U.S. Army career counselors work with soldiers and commanders on retention, reclassification and reenlistment initiatives. You'll help soldiers in their reenlistment windows decide whether to stay in the service, transfer to the reserves or move into a different classification. This is a vital role for the Army and its soldiers. You do need some service experience to become a career counselor in the Army; you can't just enlist into this military occupation specialty, or MOS. You need to be a noncommissioned officer and to meet a range of criteria before you can train as a career counselor.
Rank and Service Criteria
Army career counselors are NCOs who have reached the rank of sergeant or staff sergeant. You must be serving on your second, or subsequent, service term, with no more than 12 years of time in service, if you're a sergeant, or no more than 15 years, if you're a staff sergeant. You also need to have completed the basic noncommissioned officer course and will have served as a reenlistment NCO for at least six months before you apply for the career counselor MOS. Your service record must be clean.
Education and ASVAB Scores
The basic education requirement for a career counselor is a high school diploma or one year in college. You also need to meet certain criteria on the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery tests, which give you composite scores that indicate your aptitude to do the job. To become a career counselor, you need a General Technical score of 110. This score uses the tests you take in arithmetic reasoning and verbal. The GT score may be waived to 100 if you score 100 on the Skilled Technical composite. This score comes from your results in general science, verbal, mathematics knowledge and mechanical comprehension.
You must be a U.S. citizen and at least 21 years old to apply to become a career counselor. You won't get into this MOS if you have undertaken any intervention program for drug or alcohol dependency, and you shouldn't have any serious medical problems or marital/emotional issues that could interfere with your ability to do the job. The Army won't transfer soldiers into this role if they are pregnant.
Applying to Become an Army Career Counselor
If you meet the criteria for this job, you need to make a formal application to Human Resources Command. First, you should arrange an interview with your command's career counselor -- you need her to recommend you for the MOS before you can apply. You'll also need a letter of recommendation from the commander of your battalion. Both the career counselor and the commander will check your application to make sure it is complete before it is sent for processing.
Army Career Counselor Training
If you get into the program, you'll attend the specialty recruiting and retention school at Fort Jackson in South Carolina. Your training lasts for eight weeks. It will teach you all about basic recruiting and guidance and career counseling. You'll also learn about transitioning personnel to the reserves and will take on advanced NCO and mobile retention training. The program mixes traditional classroom learning with practical exercise scenarios. Staff Sgt. Jessica Harvey, a career counselor in the 40th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, describes on the U.S. Army website how satisfying the job can be: "I love the feeling I get when I can move a soldier closer to home or give them an assignment they really want. Seeing soldiers smiling and happy gives me a feeling of fulfillment."
Carol Finch has been writing technology, careers, business and finance articles since 2000, tapping into her experience in sales, marketing and technology consulting. She has a bachelor's degree in Modern Languages, a Chartered Institute of Marketing.certificate and unofficial tech and gaming geek status with her long-suffering friends and family.