A key benefit gained from serving in the military is a quality postsecondary education. Because you’re serving the country, you can get your college tuition paid for by the government. To get the most out of your postsecondary education and jobs you complete in the armed forces consider aligning your college courses with military occupations you’re interested in working in.
Of course, if your goal is to work as a military officer you generally must complete at least four years of college education and graduate from an officer training academy before you become a commissioned officer. For example, to work as a Navy doctor, you must graduate from a medical school (the school doesn’t have to be a military medical school) and complete at least one year of graduate medical school training.
The rewards for military officers are obvious and include attractive wages, higher authority levels and opportunities to manage large groups of workers, skills that can be transferred to managerial positions after you retire from the military. However, officers make up less than 20 percent of the military. In fact, the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that enlisted personnel make up 82 percent of the armed forces.
Should you not serve as an officer, but instead serve as an enlisted member, it’s important that you align college courses with military occupations you work so you can pass written and oral examinations and any skills tests required to get promoted. Aligning college courses with military occupations is beneficial because it may give you the edge you need to stand out amongst peers. Keep in mind that more than one million enlisted men and women serve on active duty in the United States military. An advanced education may provide you the confidence to answer promotion review board questions with authority and in-depth knowledge.
Some accredited college courses (e.g. business administration, human resources, public administration, social sciences) align with several military occupations. But what if you work military occupations with titles like air crew personnel, first line supervisor of tactical operations specialists, artillery or missile crew specialist or radar technician? At first glance, it might appear to be a bit of a challenge to find college courses that align with these and other military specific jobs.
• Introduction to Military Leadership
Help is available at accredited college and university military studies or military science departments. If you enroll in courses at accredited colleges and universities that teach authorized Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs there’s a high likelihood that you can find a dozen or more robust military focused courses at the schools. Although specific courses vary by school, types of military college courses you can take include:
If you recently enlisted or signed up to serve as an officer in the military, you may have many challenging, rewarding and adventurous years ahead. As you start nearing the end of your military career, about three years before you plan to retire, consider returning to college to take courses specific to occupations you want to work as a civilian. Just like taking college courses can help you to advance your military career; they can also help prepare you for a rewarding career in the civilian sector.