Understanding Military Skillsets: Part III
What's the Difference Between Enlisted and Officer Ranks?
In a nutshell, enlisted soldiers are the backbone of the military, comprising about 83% of the armed forces. Enlisted service members are responsible for completing military missions and carrying out orders. Officers act as managers for those soldiers, planning missions, giving orders, and assigning soldiers to tasks.
Every year, more than 180,000 people enlist in the armed forces, and nearly another 20,000 become officers. Both enlisted and officer ranks provide rewarding career experiences, educational and training opportunities, and competitive compensation.
What does Enlisted mean in the Military?
To be “enlisted” in the military, means that an individual has successfully gone through the process of becoming a service member and has taken an oath of U.S. military service. The enlistment process will usually begin with speaking with a military recruiter and visiting a Military Entrance Processing Station.
Incoming enlisted service members must pass a physical examination and the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), which will help to determine which family of jobs, or MOS they are best suited for. To complete the enlistment process, prospective soldiers are then required to take an oath of enlistment, complete Basic Combat Training, complete Advanced Individual Training, then they will be assigned a job within a unit.
Military Enlisted vs. Officer Careers
Understanding the difference in military ranks can help a great deal in understanding a veteran’s potential role at your organization.
Why to recruit former enlisted military personnel for a civilian company
Enlisted members make up about 80% of today's armed forces. Enlisted military personnel have specialties and perform specific job functions. These individuals have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to ensure the success of their unit’s missions.
Experience: Enlisted military personnel gain training and supervisory experience that is directly applicable to the civilian workplace.
Focus: Enlisted military supervisors, also called NCOs (non-commissioned officers), deliver tactical results via their teams. They are trained to produce in intense environments and are accustomed to the expectation of “getting it done.”
Why to recruit former military officers to a civilian company
Officers manage enlisted personnel and make up about 20% of the armed forces. Officers plan missions, provide orders, and assign tasks. Their leadership role requires them to be problem-solvers, influencers, and planners.
Skills: In the military, the officer corps is tasked with leading teams and delivering results. As such, these job seekers bring a greater level of leadership and accountability to the corporate world when compared to civilian peers of a similar age.
Leadership: They have subscribed to an honor code during their time in service and will uphold an organization's standards of conduct and discipline. For those who have been stationed overseas, they have developed a firsthand sensitivity to diverse cultures and populations.
These jobs all require intensive training that develops skills that are highly transferable to civilian employment.
Enlisted & Officer Experience & Training
Enlisted Personnel Experience & Training
In order to become an enlisted service member in the U.S. military, it is required that applicants have completed their GED or high school diploma. Once enlisted, many enlisted service members will train for jobs and learn skills and get hands-on experience in fields of employment such as transportation, human services, office administration, or mechanics. These skills learned during their time in the military will usually prove to be an asset to veteran job seekers as this experience transfers well to civilian employment.
Officer Experience & Training
Officers in the U.S. military are almost always required to possess a four-year degree or equivalent. Many colleges and universities have Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs on campus, which allow cadets to have the benefit of receiving a paid college education in exchange for their commitment to serve as officers in the Military after they graduate. Within the military, Officers act as managers and are placed in leadership positions that involve making tactical decisions, planning and directing operations.
Can an Enlisted Person Become an Officer?
Transitioning from an enlisted personnel to become an officer is possible and most branches of the military have transitioning services. These transitioning services will assist personnel who want to begin the transitioning process to become an officer. With recommendation from a commanding officer, enlisted personnel who meet the right qualifications and requirements can enroll and train at an Officer Candidate School (OCS), or if they need to go back to school they will enroll into an ROTC program.
Another way that enlisted personnel can begin transitioning to an officer title would be through promotion and training to a Warrant officer title for technical expertise. Enlisted service members can also be promoted through the ranks by their superiors to a noncommissioned officer (NCOs) title where they would have officer-like authority and be provided additional training.
What is the Difference Between Enlisted and Officer Ranks?
Both enlisted personnel and officers have their own unique ranks of hierarchy. Ranks will differ between the different branches of the military, however ranks are used to indicate enlisted personnel and officer’s level of seniority, leadership, and responsibility and are associated with a pay grade.
To get a better idea of how each segment is organized, download our Guide to Enlisted and Officer Ranks for a handy reference that outlines enlisted and officer ranks, with detailed information that will help you better understand the level of experience and responsibility for each rank. Next topic: Best Practices for Interviewing Veterans
Next topic: Interviewing military veterans.
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