Great Opportunities for Army Career Changes
By Kimball Johnson
Dec. 4, 2017
Download the PDF
According to U.S. Army Human Resources Command, 130,000 Soldiers transition to civilian life each year and only 15 percent of active-duty Soldiers serve for 20 years, though many are not aware that the Army offers a way for them to change careers while serving on active duty.1
Army Regulation 614-200
Before making any career moves towards military occupational specialty reclassification, Soldiers must determine whether they meet the basic requirements to do so as outlined in AR 614-200, paragraph 3-19.2, Enlisted Assignments and Utilization Management:
- The Primary Military Occupational Specialty must be listed as overstrength (NY) and the requested MOS must be listed as short (YN) on the current Reenlistment and/or Reclassification IN/OUT call message published by the Human Resource Center.
- Must meet the required criteria of Department of the Army Pamphlet 611-21, Military Occupational Classification and Structure, for new MOS.
- Cannot be on Administrative Instruction when assignment has been processed through the Enlisted Distribution and Assignment System, not date of notification.
- Must have completed 12 months at the current duty station.
- May not be serving on initial enlistment under the Army Civilian Acquired Skills Program (see AR 601-210, Regular Army and Reserve Components Enlistment Program).
- Must agree in writing to recoupment of any unearned portion of the MOS specific enlistment and/or reenlistment bonus received for the current period of service (see AR 601-280, Army Retention Program).
- Must be within 12 months of the date eligible to return from overseas.
- May not be within 24 months of expiration of term of service.
- Must have fulfilled all service remaining requirements for promotion and assignments.
- When stabilized because of reenlistment, Soldier must waive reenlistment option.
- Must be fully eligible to reenlist or extend per AR 601-280.2
Armed Forces Classification Test
Before becoming Soldiers, enlistees must take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery in order to determine job placement. However, once Soldiers enlist, they can retest to increase their scores and qualify for other positions by taking the Armed Forces Classification Test upon meeting the criteria set forth in AR 614-200 (see above).
"When a Soldier wants to take the AFCT, they meet with an Army education counselor," said Thomas Kelly, education services officer, Education Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. "They discuss the Soldier's reasons for taking the test, as well as options for studying to improve their scores. Often Soldiers want to improve their General Technical score, but they could need to improve other scores if they are trying to qualify for a different military operational specialty or a position that requires a qualifying line score."3
Preparing for the Test
According to Kelly, a combination of study sources may be the key to scoring high on the AFCT. He suggests using ASVAB/AFCT study books, the Peterson's Online Academic Skills Course or enrolling in the education center's Basic Skills Education Program to improve test scores. Students must take the Test of Adult Basic Education before enrolling in the BSEP.
"The TABE determines what grade level they are functioning at in reading, math, spelling, and language," Kelly said.4
Another resource available to Soldiers to improve their ASVAB test scores is the Army website march2success.com.
Sgt. Major Michael J. Zock, operations sergeant major of the Kansas City Recruiting Battalion, Kansas City, Missouri, encourages Soldiers to take time to study before taking the AFCT and says using the Army's website to do so makes sense.
"This is a study program to help [Soldiers] increase their score or brush up on a weak area," Zock said.5
Other Career Options
The education center offers two tests to Soldiers looking to change careers. They are the Selection Instrument for Flight Training and the Defense Language Aptitude Battery.
SIFT is a test designed to measure a Soldier's aptitude for successfully completing flight school, while the DLAB measures a Soldier's potential for learning a foreign language. Either test, when successfully passed, opens new career paths to Soldiers.
Another option to consider is pursuing a commission. Soldiers can find information on how to begin the process at their education center. Additional information is available in, "NCO to Officer," by Crystal Bradshaw in November's NCO Journal.
There are currently 40 MOSs paying bonuses for successful training completion (see the list at the end of this article).
"These are our priority MOS's to fill and that is the reason bonuses are offered for them," Zock said.
Bonuses range from $5,000 to $40,000 and have required enlistment terms ranging from three to six years.6
The obstacles and challenges that go with a career change may seem daunting at times.
"I had to stop [working on my college degree] because I went overseas to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and they really didn't have an education system out there. So I just put my sights towards my career," said Sgt. Elsien A. Lorenzo, investigator,15th Military Police Brigade, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Lorenzo did not score high enough on the ASVAB to change careers. He needed to take the AFCT and needed to study before testing. He wanted to take the BSEP to raise his General Technical score, but the Navy education center at Guantanamo didn't offer it.
Lorenzo needed to devise a plan to prepare for the test so he ordered an ASFAB book and studied as hard as he could. He achieved a 110 GT score, qualified for a new job in the military, and plans to reclassify.7
When looking to make a career change, Soldiers can discuss options with their retention NCO and an education counselor. Staying on active duty will not only reduce concerns over possible pay and benefit reductions when transitioning to civilian life, it will also allow them to build on the investment of time and effort they made towards an Army career.
For Your Information —
The Army list of critical MOSs offering bonuses is available here.
- Gen. John Kern and Lt. Col. Andrew T. Hotaling, "What is Army University Supposed to Do and How Is It Going so Far?" Journal of Military Learning 1, no. 1 (April 2017): 7.
- USA, "AR 614-200," (26 February 2009/RAR 3 September 2009). http://www.apd.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/pdf/web/r614_200.pdf
- Thomas Lee Kelly, Education Services Officer at Ft. Leavenworth, KS., in response to emailed interview questions from the author, October, 2017.
- Master Sgt. Michael J. Zock, Kansas City Operations Sergeant Major in response to emailed interview questions from the author, October, 2017.
- USAREC, "Message 17-080: Regular Army Enlistment Incentives Program Change," (27100 September 2017).
- Sgt. Elsien A. Lorenzo, 15 MP BDE, in discussion with the author, October, 2017.