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One of the biggest challenges for transitioning military entering the workforce is translating their military occupational specialty – or MOS – into terms that a civilian can understand.

What’s an MOS?

An MOS is the role or job someone had while in the military. There are over 10,000 different occupational specialties across the military that cover a whole range of skillsets and levels of responsibility.

Perhaps the best way to think of an MOS is the same way you would think about someone’s college major. In some cases they are indicative of a skillset, while other times they are more general – like a Liberal Arts degree.

While some service members work in occupations specific to the military, many work in occupations that also exist in the civilian workplace, such as administration, maintenance, information technology, logistics, healthcare, etc.

To learn more about military skillsets, download our e-book, Understanding Military Skillsets and How they Apply to Business.

How does CMFs relate to MOS in the Military?

Specialties that are similar are grouped together into “fields” or “branches”, called Career Management Fields (CMFs). These groups of related specialties all have the same first two numbers. Following the numbers there will be a letter, which will determine the specified job the military service member will be assigned and trained.

Every single MOS involves extensive special training and offers opportunities for advancement. Military personnel also have the option to move laterally and switch to other MOSs and gain additional training and skills in that field.

How is MOS in the Military Determined?

MOS Selection for Enlisted Service Members

During the enlistment process, incoming soldiers are required to take and pass the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), in order to qualify for enlistment into the military. This aptitude test will also help to determine what MOSs an incoming enlisted service member would best qualify and be suited for. In addition to taking the ASVAB, each branch of the military has MOS aptitude area scores that they use to determine minimum qualifications for each MOS.

Recruiters from that branch are often available to answer questions regarding the different jobs that a prospective soldier qualifies for and what openings for that MOS are available. Upon signing their enlistment contract, incoming soldiers will choose from a list of available MOSs that they qualify for and will then need to complete training for that MOS. Military personnel may receive an enlistment bonus for some MOSs, depending how in-demand that job is.

Related FAQ: How many MOS Does the army have?

If you are thinking about a career in the U.S. Army, you most likely are aware that the Army offers a wide variety of different job types. There are around 190 MOSs accessible to enlisted Soldiers in the Army.

Do Officers have MOS?

As opposed to enlisted service members, commissioned officers are classified by an Area of Concentration (AOC) and AOCs that are related are then grouped together into a specific branch. Upon acceptance to an Officer Candidate School, officer candidates are evaluated by factors such as academic grades, academic performance, physical fitness tests, leadership evaluations, and peer evaluations and ranked on an Order of Merit List (OML). Officer candidates that rank at the top of the list generally get assigned to the branch of their choosing, otherwise branch assignment is based on a combination of preference and military needs. Similar to enlisted personnel MOS, there are hundreds of different careers available for commissioned officers that each have their own code.

Warrant officers in the military are classified under their own system of job codes known as Warrant Officer MOS (WOMOS).

As a recruiter, understanding MOS and AOC can provide invaluable insight into your job candidates skills and qualifications. Especially as it can be difficult to translate those skills effectively onto a resume. RecruitMilitary has many resources that can help you increase your understanding of MOS and leverage the insight that can be gained to hire the right person for your company.

Next topic: What’s the difference between enlisted and officer ranks?