Reenlistment or renewing your military service contract is an opportunity of excitement as well as of challenge. It is challenging and exciting because of all the potential professional opportunities that are open to you. When the time for reenlistment arrives, take some time to consider what other options may be available to you and your military career. Take time, pause, and make a great choice for your professional future.
Deciding a New Military Occupation #1 – Do I Like the Military? This seems like an easy start to the decision to transfer to a new military occupation, but it is one that military professionals tend to gloss over. The decision to reenlist and / or transfer military occupations begins with the conversation of how much do I like the military? Deployment is one area of military service that everyone gets tired of living day-after-day. Danger, boredom, difficult living conditions, and being away from loved ones are all reasons to dislike the military. However, even in civilian professions, being on the road as a salesperson, visiting customers, and installing new equipment are all too common and very frequent in civilian professions. Just because you leave the military does not necessarily mean that your “deployments” end. Determining if you like or dislike the military requires a focus on your job, your promotion rates, your education opportunities, and your potential for the future. It’s a big decision. Finally, the grass is rarely greener on the other side of the fence, so make an informed decision.
Deciding a New Military Occupation #2 – Do I Like My Military Occupation? As a young officer, I wanted to be out in the snow, rain, cold, and sun leading soldiers, conducting challenging missions, walking in the woods, and deploying. However, almost two decades later with a family of five, the same things that I wanted at 25 did not fit me anymore at 45. Your military occupation should make you proud, you should be professionally challenged, and you should wake up in the morning excited and wanting to go to work. If you like the military, but do not like your military occupation, then a change in your military occupation might be a welcome change. Again, what works at one period of our professional lives may not work in our future professional life. Be open to the change and potential of new opportunities. Do not discount opportunities because of any preconceptions, be open to explore and learn.
Deciding New Military Occupation #3 – Consider A Switch to My Military Occupation. Today, all the military services have new, exciting opportunities in cyber operations, advanced telecommunications, healthcare, special operations, maintenance and repair, intelligence collection and analysis, linguists, as well as dozens of others. These are great opportunities, but make sure that these will fit your long term career goals. First, look at where the bases for these positions exist. If you want to be a linguist, but do not want to leave the United States, then you need another opportunity. Ensure that your new occupation offers basing locations where you want to live. Second, ensure that there is rank structure 2-3 positions above your current pay grade. Switching military professions should offer an improved chance of promotion to the next higher ranks. If there are only a few openings in the next higher ranks, then you could be switching into a new military occupation that only needs you at your current pay grade – not the best step for making the military a career. Third, look at the outside potential of these positions. A vast many of the military health care, telecommunications, cyber, and computer operations offer very attractive positions in civilian professions. Trying to fit all three of these criteria will be difficult, but you should be aware that as you switch military occupations, it should help your current and future military and civilian careers.
Switching military professions is a hard decision. If you decide to switch, explore all your options, reconfirm your commitment to the military, and pick an occupation that the military needs long term that you want to do. When you do switch, maximize your opportunities for a base of your choice, advanced professional schools, bonus payments, and stabilization at a specific base. These additional benefits of switching will make your career decision a great one.
Add your ideas, tips, and suggestions of what worked for you in your decision to reenlist as well as switch military occupations or transfer military services.
- USAA Career Transition Center & Resources
- How Military Strategy Can Help Your Career Strategy
- Wait a Month to Make a Major Decision Following a Deployment
- Demonstrate Your Military Values at Work Every Day
About the Author: Chad Storlie is a Retired US Army Officer, the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and has published nearly 200 articles in almost 100 publications on career, education, financial planning, and national security topics. Chad excels as an author, mentor, speaker, and teacher showing business leaders and military veterans how military skills make lives, careers, and businesses better. Chad is an adjunct Professor of Marketing at Creighton University. Chad has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University. Follow Chad @CombatToCorp and www.CombatToCorporate.com.
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