Things to Consider When Deciding Whether to Join The Navy

Job Opportunities

Oklahoma Army National Guard, 120th Med. Co. - Castille
The National Guard/Flickr

The Navy has over 80 enlisted jobs, which they call ratings. While that doesn't seem like much, when compared to the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, the Navy divides many of their ratings into sub-specialties, through a system called Navy Enlisted Classifications, or NECs. For example, in the Army, "Operating Room Specialist", and "Radiology Specialist" are two separate jobs (MOS 68D and 68P, respectively).

In the Navy, an operating room specialist and a radiology specialist hold the same rating (job) -- that of HM (Hospitalman). In the Navy, if Navy Hospitalman wanted to become an operating room specialist or a radiology specialist, he/she would have to apply to "C-School" (advanced training), and be awarded NEC HM-8483 or HM-8451. Unfortunately, you cannot get a guaranteed NEC for most Navy enlistments. You can only get a guaranteed rating.

All submarine ratings are closed to women, as Navy submarines are not designed to provide any form of privacy. The Navy has two other ratings that are closed to women: SEAL, and Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen.

The Navy offers three primary programs: Guaranteed Job, General Detail (called "GENDET"), and GTEP, which is a GENDET targeted enlistment program. Under the Guaranteed Job program, your rating is guaranteed in your enlistment contract.

Of course, just because you want the job, doesn't mean you'll absolutely get it. First, you must meet the job's qualification criteria ( ASVAB scores, security clearance eligibility, vision requirements, medical requirements, ect.). Then, even if you qualify, there must be a projected opening in the job during the time-period you are enlisting.

The Navy CREO listing can give you a pretty good idea about what jobs should be available.

If you enlist under the GENDET program, you are not guaranteed a specific job. Instead, when you graduate from basic training, you'll proceed to your first duty assignment, and perform general duties. After a year or so, you'll be allowed to "strike" (apply) for any rating that you meet the qualifications for, and that has projected openings. The advantage of this program is that you'll have time to actually watch other ratings in action for a period, before deciding what your Navy job is going to be. The disadvantage is that you'll be doing "scut work" (swabbing decks, painting, other manual labor tasks) for your first year, or so, of military service.

The GTEP program is a mixture of the two other programs. Under this program, you do not have a specific job guaranteed in your enlistment contract, but you are guaranteed a job in a specific community, such as:

  • Administration DK, PN, RP, YN
  • Controller/Guidance AG
  • Engineering EN, GSM, MM, MR
  • Electronics STG
  • Electrical EM, GSE
  • Hull/Combat Systems DC, HT, MN
  • Navigation QM, SM
  • Operations/Communications OS, IT
  • Ordnance GM
  • Aviation Ordnance AO
  • Special Services MS, SH
  • Mechanical (Aviation) AME, AM(H/S), PR
  • Medical HM
  • Boatswain’s Mate (Aviation) ABE, ABF, ABH
  • Legal/Law Enforcement LN/MA

Those who enlist under the GTEP program, graduate basic training and are sent to their first duty assignment. After 12 months, they are then guaranteed to attend job school in one of the ratings listed in their guaranteed community.

Want to read more about the pros and cons of choosing the Navy?

Interested in the pros and cons of the other military branches?

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