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You’ve probably heard that a few years in the military will give you the training you need to move on to college and a great career. But you don’t have to join right after high school graduation. In fact, some people get their bachelor’s degrees and then join the military. There are several perks to doing that, including rapid advancement through the ranks.
Joining the Military After College
By enlisting with a college degree in your pocket, you’ll skip a few steps on the ladder. Although you still need to complete basic combat training – the 10-week program that teaches you the basic skills necessary to be a soldier – you’ll be able to go directly to Officer Candidate School.
OCS is a rigorous 12-week program that equips officers with the leadership skills they’ll need to command an entire unit. In addition to classroom education, you’ll spend 18 days on an intense training mission, ensuring you’re able to lead a team. Once you’ve completed OCS, you’ll graduate having earned both the position of U.S. army officer and the rank of second lieutenant.
Higher Pay for Officers
A career in the U.S. Army can be rewarding, giving you access to opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise had. This is especially true if you have a college degree. With a college degree and completion of OCS, you’ll earn a higher salary than you would if you’d gone straight to basic training after high school.
Salaries for privates start at $19,659, but officers' salaries start at around $37,292 a year. After only four years of experience as a second lieutenant, you can see annual earnings of nearly $46,292. That pay continues to increase as you achieve higher ranks. Captains with less than two years of experience earn around $49,726 per year, while majors receive $56,556 and up.
Enjoy Significant Job Perks
An attractive salary isn't the only advantage of joining the military after college. When compared to the private sector, military officers enjoy significant job perks. You’ll live on a military base in a house suitable to your family size. Some bases have running trails for residents, as well as basketball courts and playgrounds for younger children.
If your spouse needs help finding work, the Army offers training and other resources. You’ll also have access to the military’s college loan repayment programs to help with any debt you may have accrued while earning your college degree. Additionally, the military provides quality health care to members and their families, and you can bump your pay with occasional bonuses.
Get Special Pay and Bonuses
Joining the army with a Bachelor's degree can bring you special pay and bonuses. Active duty military members who specialize in certain areas, such as construction engineering, multichannel transmission systems maintenance, computer systems repairs and preventive medicine may qualify for enlistment bonuses ranging from $5,000 to $40,000.
Medical laboratory specialists, for example, may be eligible for a $9,000 enlistment bonus. Culinary specialists can expect to earn an extra $12,000. Human intelligence collectors may receive bonuses of up to $18,000.
Furthermore, the U.S. Army offers special duty pay to those who are specialized in the medical field, become proficient in a foreign language critical to the military or take on jobs that carry extra responsibilities and risks.
These are just a few of the many reasons for joining the military after college. If you choose this career path, you have a chance to make a difference in people's lives and contribute to the greater good. It's the kind of career that provides an unparalleled sense of duty, patriotism and honor, leading to greater confidence and self-esteem. Plus, you'll build relationships that will last a lifetime and thrive in a community that shares the same goals and values as you do.
- U.S. Army: Officer Candidate School
- U.S. Army: Basic Combat Training
- U.S. Army: Basic Pay: The Foundation of Your Salary Package
- U.S. Army: Advantages of Being a U.S. Army Officer
- U.S. Army: Family Housing
- U.S. Army: Careers and Jobs
- Today’s Military: Becoming a Military Officer
- Military Degree Programs: Why Join the Military with a Bachelor’s Degree
- Go Army: Army Pay Chart and Basic Pay - Active Duty Soldiers
- Go Army: Special Pay for Special Duties and Skills
- Go Army: Earning Extra Money
Stephanie Faris is a novelist and business writer whose work has appeared on numerous small business blogs, including Zappos, GoDaddy, 99Designs, and the Intuit Small Business Blog. She worked for the State of Tennessee for 19 years, the latter six of which were spent as a supervisor. She has written about business for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2011.