How to Change Jobs in the Army

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Training a soldier for a specific job or military occupational specialty (MOS) in the U.S. Army represents an investment of time, money and resources. Soldiers spend months and sometimes years training for a specific job depending on their MOS, and under most circumstances, the Army will not allow a soldier to retrain and change jobs. In cases where a soldier serves in an MOS that is overstrength (too many soldiers who are MOS qualified but not enough jobs for them to fill) there is an opportunity to retrain into an MOS that is understrength (not enough qualified soldiers to fill open vacancies) through the Bonus Extension and Retraining Program (BEAR).

Speak with a reenlistment and retention noncommissioned officer (NCO). The reenlistment NCO will produce a list of understrength MOS vacancies and provide advice and assistance in making a career change. The retention NCO will also advise whether the soldier's current MOS is overstrength or understrength. If it is understrength, the solider will not be able to switch careers. If it is overstrength, the solider can begin the process of switching his or her MOS.

Select an MOS from the list provided by the retention NCO. A soldier should choose carefully and make sure the job picked is one he or she wants to do for the remainder of the time in the Army.

Extend the current tour of duty as outlined by the retention NCO. How long a soldier must extend his or her tour of duty will depend on how long the soldier has served and how long it takes to train in the new MOS.

Complete all required training to earn the new MOS award. Training will vary considerably for the new MOS, with some jobs taking only weeks of training and others taking a couple of years.

Reenlist under the new MOS to work in that job and collect any bonus associated with it. Reenlistment options will vary considerably depending on the MOS.


Before speaking with a reenlistment and retention NCO, a candidate should check within his or her chain of command to make intentions clear and to ask for career guidance in selecting a new MOS. This helps to keep the lines of communication open and leaves no hard feelings if switching is not possible and the soldier must remain with his or her current unit.