What to Consider When Joining the Military

Do You Know Which Military Service Is Best for You?

Military parade, Fairbanks, Alaska
Public Affairs Office Fort Wainwright/Flickr

When you have a goal to serve your country, you also set yourself up for trying to sort through the thousands of professional training options, jobs, or in military language, Military Occupational Specialties (MOS).

Things to Consider

Most people will recommend that you pick a job that interests you. Some will say, get job skills and training that you can take with you for the rest of your life. Many will join the military after receiving scholarships to pay for college and receive officer commissions upon graduation.

The GI Bill is a great way to earn money to pay for college after a 4-5 year enlistment if you do not know what you want to study in college when you are 18 years old. A few consider where they might live if they pick a particular branch. Geographically speaking, you will typically find all your Navy, Coast Guard, and USMC bases in beach towns. Army and Air Force bases are also at some of the most beautiful places of the world such as Hawaii, Germany and Italy, but also you could be in the middle of Georgia, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Depending upon where you are from, you could join the military and get close to your childhood / family home. Or you could easily live on the other side of the world and escape your hometown.  

All military services are not created equally. Sure, everyone gets the same basic pay and allowances. But other factors, such as enlistment incentives, quality of barracks and base housing, assignment opportunities, job opportunities, deployment rates, and promotion rates vary widely between the branches.

There are literally thousands of options. It is so important to thoroughly research what you want to do and where you want to do it. Do not just go with what the military needs to fill. Pick a job that resonates with you and a branch that fits your personality.

A common question asked of veterans is: "which military branch is best," or "which military branch would you recommend?" That question is as difficult to answer as trying to answer what high school sport you should participate in, or what your major should be in college.

Each individual is different, with unique skills, talents, and interests. The military branch that may be perfect for one, is not the branch that may be a good fit for another. That is a decision you are going to have to make on your own. Here is detailed information about what to consider the pros and cons of each military service, and allow you to make up your own mind.

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