Deciding on joining

Hey I’m a female and junior in high school and trying to decide if the military is what I should do. My dad was a marine so I have some idea what it’s like. If I do join I have no idea what I would like to do. Any advice about joining, good jobs and anything else? Thank you all!


As you may know there are tons of “jobs” (called Military Occupational Specialties, or MOS) in the military and the nature of those jobs vary across the different services (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy). I believe any prospective military inductee can focus their MOS choice by exploring reasons why he or she wants to join the military at that point in his or her life. For example, I wanted to join the military to fight war - fairly reasonable estimation as a naïve 17-year-old. When I thought of the military, and particularly when I imagined myself in the military, I could only really imagine (ironically, of course at the time, having no real clue what that meant or was like) fighting war. I didn’t really research any other MOS options, I kind of had my mind decided even before my 17th birthday. So, naturally, I enlisted into the Marine Corps infantry. I distinctly remember my recruiter asking me what MOSs I wanted to select in the final stages of the enlistment process, and to his credit he tried to suggest various things to me such as tanks, artillery, supply. But again, I had not done any research or asked any questions about those fields, so my mind drew really obscure images as he mentioned those alternatives. In hindsight, I should have asked him many more questions or at least said, “Give me a day or two to look into those different MOSs.” Of course, after getting to my first official duty station and Fleet Marine Force (FMF) unit, I got exposed and met Marines in all kinds of MOSs that I initially had no clue about - intelligence, operations planning, training, ordinance, health care (Navy side), and so much more. When it came time to re-enlist, being a bit older, more experienced, and wiser about myself, I knew I didn’t want to fight war for the rest of my life, so I looked into even many more MOSs (there’s literally hundreds of MOSs, or more). I ended not re-enlisting, but I certainly found tons of options as far as “jobs” go. Advice from here: ask yourself why you (you personally, because ultimately it is a personal decision) want to join the military and research each branches’ MOSs in the field that you believe will fulfill that reason why, and/or talk to a recruiter from each branch to get more info. From there it may be easier to narrow you MOS interests and/or specific branch. For example, decide you want to join the military to “help people and see them heal”, then you can research health care related MOSs, and you may find that the Navy or another branch has particular MOSs or opportunities to do that. For another example, decide you want to join the military to gain great training and work experience in a professional field that you’d like to make a career in, then you can research technology-related MOSs, and you may find that the Air Force or the Navy or another branch provides particular MOSs or opportunities to do that.

The second thing I would advise considering (that I believe is ordinal second to the item above) is what type of routine you prefer, which may narrow your MOS search as well. Different MOSs naturally demand different “schedules” or work. For example, in the Marine Corps infantry, a typical week consisted of going on a week-long field op (field operation exercise) somewhere remote with no showers, communication back home, etc. Some more administrative MOSs had de facto stricter hours of work, say M-F 8-4:30. The MOS you choose you’ll be contractually obligated to for the next 4 years (do they even do 2-year enlistments any more? I’ve only ever met one Marine on a 2-year enlistment), so consider this.

Personally, in hindsight of course, I would’ve chosen an MOS that I knew would give me technical skills that I could easily translate to life after the military, such as intelligence or certain communications MOSs in the realm of Information Security. But, as a 17-year-old, I wasn’t thinking about how my war fighting skills would translate to a professional civilian career. Hope this helps.

Thank you so much @turtlerock I’ve recently been looking into healthcare and intelligence not sure what I want to do

I’d start with taking the ASVAB and then, depending on your score, you can determine the jobs each branch can offer you by talking with them or researching. DO NOT LET ANYONE talk you into signing before you are ready. The recruiters have a number to meet and will promise you the sky. Not to say anyone is outright lying, but there is often some exaggeration in order to meet quota. Once you know your options, involve an adult (preferably your parents if they are onboard).

My S is in the USAF and signed up during his senior year of high school and left shortly after graduation. He will be at his 8 year mark this summer. He had a very high score on the ASVAB, which he took without my knowledge, and the recruiting started nearly immediately and came in hot and heavy, it was overwhelming. In the end, he chose the Air Force and they have treated him well. The Air Force is very education-friendly, they do everything they can for you to take classes to fulfill a degree while you are active duty.

S went in EOD and was stationed at the “Taj Mahal” of bases, Eglin near Destin, Florida. He also spent two years in Japan and is now working Cybersecurity in DC. In 8 years, he is just a couple classes short of his bachelors degree. He did a tour in Iraq and knows he’ll do another one if he re-enlists, which he is currently struggling with.

Best of luck to you. Joining the military is admirable and courageous, but a tough choice. Its not for every one but at least for my S, it was the best choice.

Thank you and your S! taking the asvab is smart so I’ll know what is even open to me. Do you know if healthcare is a good field to get into in the military? Also how does he like cyber security I’m also interested in that thank you ! @NEPatsGirl

@COLLEGEGIRL1029, Cybersecurity was not his first choice but during the process it became clear that his strengths were in that area and the military will steer you to what 1) they need most and 2) where they think you will best serve them and so there he is. He is being heavily recruited by private companies on the East Coast to contract with them (for big $$) so in the long run it provided him with the background and education necessary to move forward if he chooses not to re-enlist. If you score high enough on the ASVAB I can’t imagine they aren’t in need of cybersecurity personnel.

I’m unclear what the best fields are at this point in time but I have a friend who joined the Navy (back in the early 90s), did a 6 year stint and worked her way up to surgical technician. She has been employed by the local hospital now for nearly 20 years and has a very good and lucrative career. I also have a good friend whose daughter joined the Army five years ago and is working in a clerical capacity. She just re-enlisted after being offered a station in Germany. Her goal in joining was to travel and see as much of the world as she could. She was stationed in Florida and somewhere in the Northwest during her first four years and she was very happy with that.