What They Do About this section

military careers image
Some members of the military are deployed to other countries or regions to defend U.S. national interests.

Members of the U.S. military service maintain the U.S. national defense. Although some service members work in occupations specific to the military, such as fighter pilots or infantrymen, many work in occupations that also exist in the civilian workplace, such as nurses, doctors, and lawyers. Members serve in the ArmyNavyAir ForceMarine Corps, or Coast Guard, or in the Reserve components of these branches, and in the Air National Guard and Army National Guard. (The Coast Guard, which is included in this profile, is part of the Department of Homeland Security.)


The military distinguishes between enlisted and officer careers. Enlisted personnel make up about 82 percent of the Armed Forces and carry out military operations. The remaining 18 percent are officers—military leaders who manage operations and enlisted personnel. About 8 percent of officers are warrant officers, who are technical and tactical experts in a specific area. Army aviators, for example, make up one group of warrant officers.

Enlisted personnel typically do the following:

  • Participate in, or support, military operations, such as combat or training operations, or humanitarian or disaster relief
  • Operate, maintain, and repair equipment
  • Perform technical and support activities
  • Supervise junior enlisted personnel

Officers typically do the following:

  • Plan, organize, and lead troops and activities in military operations
  • Manage enlisted personnel
  • Operate and command aircraft, ships, or armored vehicles
  • Provide medical, legal, engineering, and other services to military personnel

Types of Enlisted Personnel

The following are examples of types of occupations for enlisted personnel:

Administrative personnel maintain information on personnel, equipment, funds, and other military-related activities. They work in support areas, such as finance, accounting, legal affairs, maintenance, supply, and transportation.

Combat specialty personnel train and work in combat units, such as the infantry, artillery, or Special Forces. For example, infantry specialists conduct ground combat operations, armored vehicle specialists operate battle tanks, and seamanship specialists maintain ships. Combat specialty personnel may maneuver against enemy forces and fire artillery, guns, mortars, or missiles to neutralize them. They may also operate various types of combat vehicles, such as amphibious assault vehicles, tanks, or small boats. Members of elite Special Forces teams are trained to perform specialized missions anywhere in the world on a moment’s notice.

Construction personnel build or repair buildings, airfields, bridges, and other structures. They also may operate heavy equipment, such as bulldozers or cranes. They work with engineers and other building specialists as part of military construction teams. Some construction personnel specialize in an area such as plumbing, electrical wiring, or water purification.

Electronic and electrical equipment repair personnel maintain and repair electronic equipment used by the military. Repairers specialize in an area such as aircraft electrical systems, computers, optical equipment, communications, or weapons systems. For example, weapons electronic maintenance technicians maintain and repair electronic components and systems that help locate targets and help aim and fire weapons.

Engineering, science, and technical personnel perform a variety of tasks, such as operating technical equipment, solving problems, and collecting and interpreting information. They perform technical tasks in information technology, environmental health and safety, or intelligence:

  • Environmental health and safety specialists inspect military facilities and food supplies to ensure that they are safe for use and consumption.
  • Information technology specialists manage and maintain computer and network systems.
  • Intelligence specialists gather information and prepare reports for military planning and operations.

Healthcare personnel provide medical services to military personnel and their family members. They may work as part of a patient-service team with doctors, nurses, or other healthcare professionals. Some specialize in providing emergency medical treatment in combat or remote areas. Others specialize in laboratory testing of tissue and blood samples; maintaining pharmacy supplies or patients’ records; assisting with dental procedures; operating diagnostic tools, such as x-ray and ultrasound machines; or other healthcare tasks.

Human resources development personnel recruit qualified people into the military, place them in suitable occupations, and provide training programs: 

  • Personnel specialists maintain information about military personnel and their training, job assignments, promotions, and health.
  • Recruiting specialists provide information about military careers; explain pay, benefits, and military life; and recruit individuals into the military.
  • Training specialists and instructors teach military personnel how to perform their jobs.

Machine operator and repair personnel operate industrial equipment and machinery to make and repair parts for a variety of equipment and structures. They may operate engines, nuclear reactors, or water pumps, usually performing a specific job. Welders and metalworkers, for example, work with various types of metals to repair or form the structural parts of ships, buildings, or equipment. Survival equipment specialists inspect, maintain, and repair survival equipment, such as parachutes and aircraft life-support equipment.

Media and public affairs personnel prepare and present information about military activities to the military and the public. They take photographs, make video programs, present news and music programs, or conduct interviews.

Protective service personnel enforce military laws and regulations and provide emergency responses to disasters:

  • Firefighters prevent and extinguish fires in buildings, on aircraft, and aboard ships.
  • Military police responsibilities include controlling traffic, preventing crime, and responding to emergencies.
  • Other law enforcement and security specialists investigate crimes committed on military property and guard inmates in military correctional facilities.

Support service personnel provide services that support the morale and well-being of military personnel and their families:

  • Food service specialists prepare food in dining halls, hospitals, and ships.
  • Religious program specialists assist chaplains with religious services, religious education programs, and related administrative duties.

Transportation and material-handling personnel transport military personnel and cargo. Most personnel within this occupational group are classified according to the mode of transportation, such as aircraft, motor vehicle, or ship:

  • Aircrew members operate equipment on aircraft.
  • Cargo specialists load and unload military supplies, using forklifts and cranes.
  • Quartermasters and boat operators navigate and pilot many types of small watercraft, including tugboats, gunboats, and barges.
  • Vehicle drivers operate various military vehicles, including fuel or water tank trucks.

Vehicle and machinery mechanical personnel conduct preventive and corrective maintenance on aircraft, automotive and heavy equipment, and powerhouse station equipment. These workers specialize by the type of equipment that they maintain:

  • Aircraft mechanics inspect and service various types of aircraft.
  • Automotive and heavy-equipment mechanics maintain and repair vehicles, such as Humvees, trucks, tanks, and other combat vehicles. They also repair bulldozers and other construction equipment.
  • Heating and cooling mechanics install and repair air-conditioning, refrigeration, and heating equipment.
  • Marine engine mechanics repair and maintain engines on ships, boats, and other watercraft.
  • Powerhouse mechanics install, maintain, and repair electrical and mechanical equipment in power-generating stations.
Table 1. Active duty enlisted personnel by broad occupational group and branch of military, and Coast Guard, February 2017



Air Force

Coast Guard

Marine Corps


Total enlisted personnel in each occupational group

Occupational group








Combat Specialty 













Electronic and Electrical Equipment Repair 







Engineering, Science, and Technical 













Human Resource Development 







Machine Operator and Production 







Media and Public Affairs 







Protective Service 







Support Service 







Transportation and Material Handling 







Vehicle and Machinery Mechanic 







Non-occupation or unspecified coded personnel







Total enlisted personnel for each military branch and Coast Guard







SOURCE: U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Manpower Data Center

Types of Officers

The following are examples of types of officers:

Combat specialty officers plan and direct military operations, oversee combat activities, and serve as combat leaders. They may be in charge of tanks and other armored assault vehicles, artillery systems, special operations, or infantry units. This group also includes naval surface warfare and submarine warfare officers, combat pilots, and aircrews.

Engineering, science, and technical officers’ responsibilities depend on their area of expertise. They work in scientific and professional occupations, such as atmospheric scientistsmeteorologists, physical scientists, biological scientists, social scientists, attorneys, and other types of scientists or professionals. For example, meteorologists in the military may study the weather to assist in planning flight paths for aircraft.

Executive, administrative, and managerial officers manage administrative functions in the Armed Forces, such as human resources management, training, personnel, information, police, or other support services. Officers who oversee military bands are included in this category.

Healthcare officers provide medical services to military personnel in order to maintain or improve their health and physical readiness. Officers such as physicians, physician assistants, nurses, and dentists examine, diagnose, and treat patients. Other healthcare officers provide therapy, rehabilitative treatment, and additional healthcare for patients:

  • Dentists treat diseases, disorders, and injuries of the mouth.
  • Nurses provide and coordinate patient care in military hospitals and clinics.
  • Optometrists treat vision problems and prescribe glasses, contact lenses, or medications.
  • Pharmacists purchase, store, and dispense drugs and medicines.
  • Physical therapists and occupational therapists plan and administer therapy to help patients adjust to injuries, regain independence, and return to work.
  • Physicians, surgeons, and physician assistants examine patients, diagnose injuries and illnesses, and provide treatment to military and their families.
  • Psychologists provide mental healthcare and also may conduct research on behavior and emotions.

Human resource development officers manage recruitment, placement, and training programs in the military:

  • Personnel managers direct and oversee military personnel functions, such as job assignments, staff promotions, and career counseling.
  • Recruiting managers direct and oversee recruiting personnel and recruiting activities.
  • Training and education directors identify training needs and develop and manage educational programs.

Media and public affairs officers oversee the development, production, and presentation of information or events for the military and the public. They manage the production of videos and television and radio broadcasts that are used for training, news, and entertainment. Some plan, develop, and direct the activities of military bands. Public affairs officers respond to public inquiries about military activities and prepare news releases.

Protective service officers are responsible for the safety and protection of individuals and property on military bases and vessels. Emergency management officers plan and prepare for all types of disasters. They develop warning, evacuation, and response procedures in preparation for disasters. Law enforcement and security officers enforce all applicable laws on military bases and oversee investigations of crimes.

Support services officers manage military activities in key functional areas, such as logistics, transportation, and supply. They may oversee the transportation and distribution of materials by ground vehicles, aircraft, or ships. They also direct food service facilities and other support activities. Purchasing and contracting managers negotiate and monitor contracts for equipment, supplies, and services that the military buys from the private sector.

Transportation officers manage and perform activities related to the safe transport of military personnel and equipment by air, ground, and water. They operate and command an aircraft or a ship:

  • Navigators use radar, radio, and other navigation equipment to determine their position and plan their route of travel.
  • Pilots in the military fly various types of military airplanes and helicopters to carry troops and equipment.
  • Ships’ engineers direct engineering departments, including engine operations, maintenance, and power generation, aboard ships.
Table 2. Active duty officer personnel by broad occupational group and branch of military, and Coast Guard, February 2017



Air Force

Coast Guard

Marine Corps


Total officer personnel in each occupational group

Occupational group

Combat Specialty 






Engineering, Science, and Technical 






Executive, Administrative, and Managerial 











Human Resource Development






Media and Public Affairs 






Protective Service 






Support Service 












Non-occupation or unspecified coded personnel







Total officer personnel for each military branch and Coast Guard







SOURCE: U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Manpower Data Center


Work Environment About this section

military careers image
Military members must be physically fit and ready to participate in, or support, combat missions.

In February 2017, more than 2.1 million people served in the Armed Forces. More than 1.3 million were on active duty, including the following subtotals: 

Army         466,524
Navy 318,571
Air Force 322,799
Marines 183,923

In addition, about 810,000 people served in the Reserves in these branches and in the Air National Guard and Army National Guard. In February 2017, about 40,795 people served in the Coast Guard, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

The specific work environments and conditions pertaining to military occupations depend on the occupational specialty, unit, branch of service, and other factors. Most active-duty military personnel live and work on or near military bases and facilities throughout the United States and the world. These bases and facilities usually offer housing and amenities, such as stores and recreation centers.

Service members move regularly for training or job assignments, with most rotations lasting 2 to 4 years. Some are deployed internationally to defend U.S. national interests.

Military members must be both physically and mentally fit, and ready to participate in, or support, combat missions that may be difficult and dangerous and involve long periods away from family. Some personnel, however, are rarely deployed near combat areas.

Table 3 shows officers, warrant officers, and enlisted ranks, by grade and branch of service, who served on active duty in February 2017.

Table 3. Military rank and employment for activity duty personnel, (excluding Coast Guard), February 2017




Air Force

Marine Corps

Coast Guard

Active duty personnel (excluding Coast Guard)

Commissioned Officers:









Lieutenant General

Vice Admiral

Lieutenant General

Lieutenant General

Vice Admiral



Major General

Rear Admiral (Upper Half)

Major General

Major General

Rear Admiral (Upper Half)



Brigadier General

Rear Admiral (Lower Half)

Brigadier General

Brigadier General

Rear Admiral (Lower Half)










Lieutenant Colonel


Lieutenant Colonel

Lieutenant Colonel





Lieutenant Commander



Lieutenant Commander










1st Lieutenant

Lieutenant Junior Grade

1st Lieutenant

1st Lieutenant

Lieutenant Junior Grade



2nd Lieutenant


2nd Lieutenant

2nd Lieutenant



Warrant Officers:


Chief Warrant Officer 5

Chief Warrant Officer 5

Chief Warrant Officer 5




Chief Warrant Officer 4

Chief Warrant Officer 4

Chief Warrant Officer 4

Chief Warrant Officer 4



Chief Warrant Officer 3

Chief Warrant Officer 3

Chief Warrant Officer 3

Chief Warrant Officer 3



Chief Warrant Officer 2

Chief Warrant Officer 2

Chief Warrant Officer 2

Chief Warrant Officer 2



Warrant Officer 1


Warrant Officer 1



Enlisted Personnel:


Sergeant Major

Master Chief Petty Officer

Chief Master Sergeant

Sergeant Major/Master Gunnery Sergeant

Master Chief Petty Officer



First Sergeant/Master Sergeant

Senior Chief Petty Officer

Senior Master Sergeant

First Sergeant/Master Sergeant

Senior Chief Petty Officer



Sergeant First Class

Chief Petty Officer

Master Sergeant

Gunnery Sergeant

Chief Petty Officer



Staff Sergeant

Petty Officer First Class

Technical Sergeant

Staff Sergeant

Petty Officer First Class




Petty Officer Second Class

Staff Sergeant


Petty Officer Second Class




Petty Officer Third Class

Senior Airman


Petty Officer Third Class



Private First Class


Airman First Class

Lance Corporal





Seaman Apprentice


Private First Class

Seaman Apprentice




Seaman Recruit

Airman Basic


Seaman Recruit


SOURCE: U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Manpower Data Center


Members of the military are often placed in dangerous situations with the risk of serious injury or death. Members deployed to combat zones or those who work in dangerous areas, such as the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, face a higher risk of injury or death.

Work Schedules

Military personnel on active duty typically work full time. However, hours vary with the person’s occupational specialty, rank, and branch of service, as well as with the needs of the military. Personnel must be prepared to work additional hours to fulfill missions.

How to Become a Member of the Armed Forces About this section

Military careers
After basic training, military members attend additional training at technical schools that prepare them for a particular military occupational specialty.

To join the military, applicants must meet age, education, aptitude, physical, and character requirements. These requirements vary by branch of service and for officers and enlisted members.

Although entry requirements for each service vary, certain qualifications for enlistment are common to all branches:

  • Minimum of 17 years of age
  • U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Never convicted of a felony
  • Able to pass a medical exam

Applicants who are 17 years old must have the consent of a parent or legal guardian before entering the military.

Age limits for entering active-duty service are as follows:

  • In the Army, the maximum age is 34.
  • In the Navy, the maximum age is 34.
  • In the Marine Corps, the maximum age is 29.
  • In the Air Force, the maximum age is 39.
  • In the Coast Guard, the maximum age is 27.

All applicants must meet certain physical requirements for height, weight, vision, and overall health. Officers must be U.S. citizens. Officers and some enlisted members must be able to obtain a security clearance. Candidates interested in becoming officers through training in the federal service academies must be unmarried and without dependents.

Service members are assigned an occupational specialty based on their aptitude, previous training, and the needs of their branch of service. All members must sign a contract and commit to a minimum term of service.

A recruiter can help a prospective service member determine whether he or she qualifies for enlistment or as an officer. A recruiter can also explain the various enlistment options and describe the military occupational specialties.

Women are now eligible to enter all military specialties.

Become an enlisted member

Prospective recruits who wish to enlist must take a placement exam called the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), which is used to determine an applicant’s suitability for military occupational specialties.

A recruiter can schedule applicants to take the ASVAB without any obligation to join the military. Many high schools offer the exam as a way for students to explore the possibility of a military career. The selection for a certain job specialty is based on ASVAB test results, the physical requirements for the job, and the needs of the service.

Applicants who decide to join the military must pass the physical examination before signing an enlistment contract. The contract involves a number of enlistment options, such as the length of active-duty or reserve-duty time, the length and kind of job training, and the amount of bonuses that may be earned, if any. Most active-duty programs have first-term enlistments of 4 years, although there are some 2-, 3-, and 6-year programs.

All branches of the Armed Services offer a delayed-entry program allowing candidates to postpone entry to active duty for up to one year after enlisting. High school students can enlist during their senior year and enter service after graduation. Others may delay entry because their desired job training is not immediately available or because they need time to arrange their personal affairs.

Become an officer

To become an officer, candidates typically need to have at least a bachelor’s degree, be a U.S. citizen, pass a background check, and meet physical and age requirements. Candidates for officer positions do not need to take the ASVAB. Some achieve officer candidacy by completing a degree and training through the federal service academies (ArmyNavyAir ForceCoast Guard, and Merchant Marine) or through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) programs offered at many colleges and universities.


All branches of the Armed Forces require their members to be high school graduates or have equivalent credentials. Officers usually need a bachelor’s degree. Some officers entering the service may need to have education beyond a bachelor’s degree. For example, officers entering as military lawyers need a law degree.

Those who want to become an officer have several options to meet the education requirements, including the aforementioned federal service academies (Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine), the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) programs, Officer Candidate School (OCS), and other programs.

Important Qualities

Leadership skills. Members of the Armed Forces work together to achieve their missions. Those who want to advance ranks need to be able lead others in the completion of assigned duties or missions.

Mental preparedness. Members of the Armed Forces must be mentally fit and able to handle stressful situations that can occur during military operations.

Physical fitness. Members of the Armed Forces must be physically fit to participate in, or support, combat missions that may be difficult or dangerous.

Readiness. Members of the Armed Forces must be ready and able to report for military assignments on short notice.


Training for enlisted personnel. Newly enlisted members of the Armed Forces undergo initial-entry training, better known as basic training or boot camp. Basic training includes courses in military skills and protocols and lasts 7 to 13 weeks, including a week of orientation and introduction to military life. Basic training also includes weapons training, team building, and rigorous physical exercise designed to improve strength and endurance.

Following basic training, enlisted members attend technical schools for additional training that prepares them for a particular military occupational specialty. This formal training period generally lasts from 10 to 20 weeks. Training for certain occupations—nuclear power plant operator, for example—may take as long as a year. In addition to getting technical instruction, military members receive on-the-job training at their first duty assignment.

Training for warrant officers. All services except the U.S. Air Force have warrant officer programs. Selection to attend Warrant Officer Candidate School is highly competitive and is restricted to those who meet rank and length-of-service requirements. The only exception is the selection process for Army aviator warrant officers, a process that has no requirement of previous military service. Training may last several weeks.

Training for officers. Officer training in the Armed Forces is provided through the federal service academies (Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine), the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program, Officer Candidate School (OCS) or Officer Training School (OTS), the National Guard (State Officer Candidate School programs), and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

  • Training for officers in the federal service academies. The federal service academies provide a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. Midshipmen and cadets receive free room and board, free tuition, free medical and dental care, and a monthly allowance. Graduates receive regular or reserve commissions and typically have a 5-year active-duty obligation, which may be longer for some specialties, such as medicine or aviation. Service academy cadet or midshipman candidates must be nominated by an authorized source, usually a member of Congress. In addition, nominees must submit their academic record, college aptitude test scores, and recommendations from teachers or other school officials. They must also pass a medical examination and have no dependents. Academies make appointments from the list of eligible nominees. Appointments to the Coast Guard Academy, however, are based on merit and do not require a nomination.
  • Training for officers in ROTC programs. Participants in ROTC programs take regular college courses along with 3 to 5 hours of military instruction per week. After graduation, they may serve as officers on active duty or in the Reserves or National Guard. In the last 2 years of an ROTC program, students receive a monthly allowance while attending school, as well as additional pay for summer training. ROTC scholarships for 2, 3, and 4 years of school are available on a competitive basis.
  • Training for officers through OCS or OTS. College graduates can earn a commission in the Armed Forces through OCS or OTS training programs in the ArmyNavyAir ForceMarine CorpsCoast GuardAir National Guard, and Army National Guard. These programs consist of several weeks of academic, physical, and leadership training. Those who complete the programs as officers must usually complete their service obligation on active duty.
  • Training for officers through the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Personnel with training in certain health occupations may qualify for direct appointment as officers. For those studying health professions, financial assistance and internship opportunities are available from the military in return for specified periods of military service. Prospective medical students can apply to the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, which offers a salary and free tuition in a program leading to a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree. In return, graduates must serve for at least 7 years in either the military or the U.S. Public Health Service.
  • Training for officers through direct appointments. Direct appointments are also available for those qualified to serve in other specialty areas, such as the Judge Advocate General’s Corps for those in the legal field or the Chaplain Corps for those in religious ministry. All prospective officers who enter the service through a direct appointment attend several weeks of military-related training that typically includes courses in military orientation, academic subjects, and officer leadership and tactics.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Depending on the occupational specialty, members of the military may need to have and maintain civilian licenses or certifications. For example, officers serving as lawyers, also known as judge advocates, may need to have and maintain their state bar licenses to enter and remain in the U.S. military. 


Each branch of the military has different criteria for determining the promotion of personnel. Criteria for promotion may include time in service and in grade, job performance, a fitness report, and passing scores on written exams. Enlisted personnel can be promoted to higher ranks, which may include serving in a supervisory position and being in charge of junior enlisted members.

Each military service may have other advancement opportunities for its enlisted personnel. For example, enlisted personnel may become warrant officers if they complete a bachelor’s degree, have several years of experience in higher enlisted positions, and meet age and physical requirements. The Army offers a direct enlistment option to become a warrant officer aviator.

Officers can also be promoted to higher ranks, which may include the command of a military unit of both enlisted members and officers, or being in charge of an entire military base.

Pay About this section

Basic pay is based on rank and time in service. The pay structure for military personnel is shown in table 4. Pay bands are the same for all branches. Members of the Armed Forces may receive additional pay based on their job assignment or qualifications. For example, they receive additional pay for foreign, hazardous, submarine, or flight duty, or for being medical or dental officers. Retirement pay is generally available after 20 years of service.

Military pay tables and information are available from the U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

In addition to receiving basic pay, members of the military are either housed free of charge on base or they receive a housing allowance.

Members who serve for a certain number of years may receive other benefits. These benefits may include educational benefits through the Montgomery GI Bill, which pays for a portion of educational costs at accredited institutions; medical care at military or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals; and guaranteed home loans.

Military personnel on active duty typically work full time. However, hours vary with the person’s occupational specialty, rank, and branch of service, as well as with the needs of the military. Personnel must be prepared to work additional hours to fulfill missions.

Job Outlook About this section

BLS employment projections cover the civilian workforce only.

The goal of the Armed Forces is to maintain a force sufficient to deter, fight, and overcome various threats or conflicts in multiple regions at the same time. Emerging conflicts and global events, however, could lead to changes in the size of the military branches. Consequently, the nation is expected to maintain adequate personnel in the Reserve, Army National Guard, and Air National Guard.

Job Prospects

Opportunities should be very good for qualified individuals in all branches of the Armed Forces through 2026. All services have needs to fill entry-level and professional positions as current members of the Armed Forces move up through the ranks, leave the service, or retire.

The military has been an all-volunteer force since the end of the draft in 1973. When the economy is thriving and civilian employment opportunities are generally more favorable, it is more difficult for the military to meet its recruitment quotas. It is also more difficult to meet these goals during times of war, when recruitment goals typically rise. During economic downturns, candidates for military service may face competition.

Similar Occupations About this section

The military employs people in numerous occupational specialties, many of which are similar to civilian occupations. To match military occupations with similar civilian occupations, O*Net OnLine offers the Military Crosswalk Search tool.

Contacts for More Information About this section

Each of the military services publishes handbooks, fact sheets, and pamphlets describing its entrance requirements, its training opportunities, and other aspects of military careers. These publications are available at all recruiting stations; at most state employment service offices; and in high schools, colleges, and public libraries. 

For more information on the individual services, visit

U.S. Air Force

Air National Guard

U.S. Army

Army National Guard

U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Navy

In addition, the Defense Manpower Data Center, an agency of the Department of Defense, maintains a website that provides information and resources for parents, educators, and young adults who are curious about joining military service. To see the information, visit

Today’s Military

For more information about military testing, visit


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Military Careers,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/military/military-careers.htm (visited August 13, 2019).

Last Modified Date: Friday, April 12, 2019

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.


The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2018 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2018, the median annual wage for all workers was $38,640.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2016

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2016, which is the base year of the 2016-26 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2016-26

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

2018 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2018, the median annual wage for all workers was $38,640.