Army Financial Management Technician
Learn About Pursuing a Career In Military Finance
Let’s face facts: Not all soldiers are going to be John Wayne. But America has the largest and most powerful military in the world, and that machine doesn’t run for free. You certainly wouldn’t be happy signing up for duty in the trenches if it did!
Like all branches of service, the Army puts many of its own soldiers to work making sure the “green machine” keeps its greenbacks in order. Financial Management Technicians at home and abroad handle all manner of accounting for the Army, including pay, bookkeeping, purchasing, and audits.
They are the bean-counters, the budget analysts, and most importantly, the paymasters.
As entry-level enlisted, Financial Management Technicians require no special education beyond high school, although the Army’s recruiting website does suggest that skills with numbers and computers are “helpful” (when aren’t they these days?). After Basic, the Army trains new recruits for this occupation in the basics of accounting, pay, budgets, and financial analysis. Army skill training doesn’t result in any special certifications but does put soldiers in a good position to develop their skills and qualifications through on-the-job experience and additional off-duty education.
Duties and Responsibilities
Goarmy.com summarizes typical duties of the Financial Management Technician:
- Receive and post documents to accounting/budget systems.
- Process treasury checks for payment and pay for invoices.
- Maintain files and prepare financial reports/travel vouchers.
- Review contracts, invoices and receive reports.
Typically, Financial Management Technicians will work in teams or shops within a given Army unit as well as coordinate (often remotely) with civilians at the Defense Finance Accounting Service. They ensure soldiers get paid and resolve any pay discrepancies, help soldiers submit official travel vouchers, and organize the unit’s budget on behalf of their commanding officer.
Additionally, forward-deployed finance technicians are responsible for disbursing a portion of each soldier’s paycheck in cash, in areas where installing armor takes priority over installing ATMs.
Army financial technicians can expect progression opportunities comparable to their peers in other fields, including promotions and assignments, and postings are available in the Army Reserve and National Guard for those seeking less than full-time duty.
Soldiers in finance can also improve their chances of promotion and advancement through various off-duty courses and certifications. Many of these are directly related to their work, including Accredited Business Accountant, Certified Government Financial Manager, and Certified Financial Planner. The Army also offers promotion incentives to soldiers who seek some certifications that might be helpful in collateral duties, such as fitness instruction and sports medicine. Many of these certifications, without which transition to a civilian career in finance would be rocky indeed, are approved training programs under the Montgomery GI Bill. Depending on operational needs, soldiers may make arrangements with their superiors for time to take these courses or take them off-duty, with costs covered by their veteran benefits.
For those that plan to parlay their military experience into a civilian career, Army Credentialing Opportunities On-Line suggests several related jobs, including bookkeepers, accountants, and payroll and timekeeping clerks, as well as numerous Federal positions.
No matter what, sooner or later, someone’s pay is going to get screwed up. Just as your first instinct is to yell at the poor customer service rep when your Internet connection is down (he’s just reading a script, give him a break!) soldiers tend to throw all the heat at the finance tech when their paycheck is wrong (or magically disappears). At times it takes some thick skin to work in this kind of customer service.
Then there’s boredom, every soldier’s worst enemy (other than the enemy, of course). In any Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), from the most exciting to the mundane, it can easily lead to a positive feedback loop of dissatisfaction that culminates in a wasted enlistment.
I would recommend that anyone joining the military, but especially those considering an administrative job like Financial Management Technician, keep their spirits high and set clear, attainable goals, like, “Within my first enlistment, I will use the GI Bill to get a Fundamental Payroll Certification.” In the end, your own drive and willpower are the key to making the most of your MOS. Having a “bad unit” or a “boring MOS” are only excuses.
It may not be a match for every personality, but in Army Finance, you’ll contribute positively to the mission by doing a job that just has to be done. And despite the ire you may have to fend off when the inevitable pay snafu arises, as a dedicated Financial Management Technician, you can rest assured that you’re helping your fellow soldiers every day -- keeping them paid, provided for, and (even if they don’t always show it) a little happier.