View Full Version : OCS or Enlisting Post-Grad
I am thinking about OCS or Enlistment post-grad. Opinions? I know it has a lot to do with my choice of job. I am thinking Army Intelligence, or Infantry, although I am open to suggestions. The extra pay would be nice but isn't a deciding factor. Any help?
on a side note I had a friend that graduated from a presitgous university with a double major in history and religion. Got a job at a financial firm, quit 3 weeks later and enlisted. He didn't go OCS but said he doesn't regret it.
Officer has better pay and better conditions. It corresponds to more prestige and better job opportunities after the military.
Officers are primarily administrators. They plan out operations, compile intelligence estimates, and so forth. At the lowest rank (2LT) officers are hands-on with the men in the action, but after that, they get further and further away from the action, coordinating actions from an office or command post. Officers can be responsible for dozens of men and tens of millions of dollars of equipment within just a few years of starting their careers. (officers in "skilled" branches like medicine or law don't really fit this mold)
The enlisted get their hands dirty. They run around and shoot stuff, purify water, become snipers or demolitions experts, repair vehicles, drive trucks, and so on. Generally, there is a much better sense of comradery and being part of a team as an enlisted soldier. It's a lot more action and a lot less paperwork.
Non-Commissioned Officers (sergeants) fill the same type of role that supervisors do in the civilian world. They get assigned increasingly responsibility and numbers of men, and their job is to use their knowledge and expertise to implement the plans created by the officers. Sergeants look out for the interests of their men and are constantly teaching younger soldiers so as to pass on their knowledge. They've also "been there" since they had to go up through the ranks to get to their current position.
So, think of it this way:
Officers = managers
Non-commisioned officer (sergeants) = supervisors
Junior enlisted (privates and specialists) = everybody else
Officers make the plans. Sergeants implement the plans. Privates do the plans.
There are also Warrant Officers positions for folks with certain skillsets (mechanics, helocopter pilots, etc.). These guys get most of the pay and benefits of officers, but they keep doing hands-on work. Everyone always says that chief warrant officer is the "best rank in the army" because nobody is supposed to be able to bother you.
You could also choose to go Enlisted then later do OCS. Most guys who start that route never go to OCS though.
You have a key choice you need to make your branch/MOS choice.
Do you want to do something that you can't do in the civilian world? Do you love shooting guns and blowing stuff up? If so, you can choose one of the Combat Arms fields (Infantry, Cavalry Scouts, Armor). Keep in mind that your skills will not directly transfer to a civilian job after the military (you'll learn leadership, how to work under pressure, and lots of other useful stuff, but you still need to couple that with something).
Do you want to learn a skill that can translate into a profession after the military? If so, you can pick one of the Combat Support or Combat Service Support fields (Signal Corps, Air Traffic Controller, Supply). These jobs aren't as glamorous as Combat Arms, but it might work out for you better after you leave the military.
There are lots of choices in what to do in the military and lots of different strategies to decide...
If you go the officer route, typically you'd make up a list of your top choices for your "branch," and then the army assigns you one of them after you've been at training for a while. If your first choice is open, you get that. If it isn't, you might get your second or third choice. Whatever you get will be from the list you gave them, but if you want to transfer later in your career, you usually can.
If you go enlisted, you'll be given a choice of "MOS" (Military Occupational Speciality) before you even sign your contract. You can pick anything that's open on that day (almost all jobs are usually open for active-duty, but some may not be for National Guard/Reserve), assuming you meet the minimum standards. The recruiting folks will probably point out whichever jobs have the greatest shortages (which usually corresponds to the biggest bonuses), but it's your choice. You can change jobs later, but normally only when it comes time to reenlist.
Keep in mind that some career fields promote very quickly, and others promote very slow.
We can only talk in generalities here, but a recruiter could give you specifics. You don't lose anything by going to talk to one. I'd recommend doing research on your own before signing that contract though, to make sure you get what you truly want.
I've got a four year and went the "enlisted for now" route. I'm in the National Guard so there's a difference in the amount of training we do vs. active. If you want to get trained up in your MOS and you're doing active you might want to do enlisted first. I read up on the active OCS and couldn't tell if you go to in place of basic or after basic, IIRC it was 13 weeks and you didn't get off base privilages till week 11. If it's after basic then that blows, if in place of then it's about the same. If I have a degree I'd like to be treated like an adult and get off base privilages, but that's just me. I didn't enjoy basic at 24 w/ 17 and 18 yr olds. My LEO job where I get free roam of my area and being confined to certain areas and always being told what to do was a big change. I plan on going to the NG OCS in a few years hopefully, it is just on weekends which is nice. You'll make more money as an officer and by the time you're out of your original enlisted contract (mine's 6 years, if you go in as enlisted you can still go to OCS though) you'd probably have been promoted at least one rank in the O field.
My advice would be talk to a recruiter and don't take their BS about what they want you to do or think you should do, tell them what YOU want to do or what options you're thinking of and tell them to tell you about it.
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