Enlisting in National Guard 3 years after graduating college with an engineering degree?

I graduated in 2009 with a bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering. I have been working full time since then in an engineering position at a process automation and controls company.

I have decided either the army or air force would be in my best interests. I make pretty good money (60k a year) so I wouldn't want to go active duty army or air force and have to quit my job for a major pay cut. Therefore I'm interested in joining the National Guard b/c I can still keep my job and be in the national guard part-time.

Basically, I'm interested in serving my country before it's too late. Also, my job is definately on the boring side and being in the military might spice things up a little. I know everyone says I should join as an officer because of my degree but I'm actually interested in joining enlisted. I feel like being an officer AND having a full time career level civilian job might be too overwhelming anyways. My job is a very white collar desk job and I think an enlisted position (possibly electrician, avionics technician, etc. not exactly sure which MOS I want yet) would allow me to also learn a trade since I don't have much mechanical hands-dirty type ability right now (such as working on cars, houses, etc) and would like some of that experience.

My question is do you recommend this route of becoming enlisted? Or officer? I hear most officer jobs are very administrative and I'm interested in doing something more hands-on where I can learn something useful. Should I pick an MOS more related to my full-time job or does it matter? Or is it even worth it altogether considering my current engineering job pays pretty well with very good benefits?

Also, I haven't decided on air or army national guard. I know the air force treats their people better but the army may be a better experience. Also, the air force deploys for shorter periods of time which would better suit working a professional, full time civilian job like I have.

2 Answers

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  • Marine
    Lv 7
    8 years ago
    Best Answer

    If you want something "hands-on" how about flying a military helicopter and still be a military officer? Your pay is better (add in flight pay along with base pay), you learn to be a well-organized manager (something that doesn't occur in the civilian world (been there and observed that). For enlisted, why not hands on fixing Army helos? My brother is a SSGT in the Army NG as an avionics tech. I was a Marine Corps aviator and aircraft maintenance officer - lots of hands on time from experience. This would be Army National Guard option.

    For Air National Guard (the Air Force side of the NG), it will be much harder to be a designated aviator; however, you might qualify as a plane captain, aviation mechanic/avionics tech, aircraft crew member for cargo birds, etc.

    You could also consider the Reserves for each of the four military Services. Same type of jobs, same once a month weekend schedule, and the two week annual training periods.

    As a career military officer, my average day at work, rarely in the office, was 10-11 hours. I always was busy considering as I grew in military rank so did the scope and size of the responsibilities. I went from having 80 aircraft maintenance Marines under me as a 1stLt and aviator to having 245 Marines under me as a Major. I can guarantee that oversight responsibilities were full time as were the coordination, training (included field time), deployment prep and execution, and post-deployment setup and execution left little time to even read a paperback book at night!

    You can become a enlisted PVT (E-2) and be told what to do every day that you show up for your weekend drill with absolutely no responsibility for anyone or anything. As a prior enlisted Marine, I can guarantee you that you will become extremely annoyed with the situation because your current job will result in you considering the NG work to be boring and below you. You will be either mentally (OK) or verbally (not OK) challenging the direction and instructions of the Staff Sergants and above telling you not only what to do, but how to do it. This process is done at the basic level of understanding regardless of how smart you think you are.

    As comparison in your current job, tell your boss that you would rather be one of the secretaries in the office for two days out of the month and that you are willing to follow exactly the instructions and direction of the lead secretary for those 2 days. Won't last long since your perspective of what needs to be done and how it is to be done will be different than the lead secretary. You will have no right to suggest or demand it be done differently regardless of your background and education.

    Think about the above. Apply for Officer Candidate School (Army ROTC) or Officer Training School (OTS). A lot of candidates don't make it - you could be one which would justify going enlisted route. If you do make it, you can still turn it down before being sworn in. Up to you.

    Lastly, you should visit the closest NG or Reserve unit to find out if the MOS you are interested is open on their manning charts. If not, you may be using some of your personal money to fly to the closest NG or Reserve unit that has an opening for your job description (MOS for ANG and Classification for AFNG).

    Best wishes.

    Lieutenant Colonel, US Marine Corps-Retired (been at both ends of the stick. Officer is definitely the better end for many, many more reasons than the few I provided here)

  • Ruth
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    You would do best having a military career related to your education and profession. Being an officer is always better than being an enlisted man. However, the absolute best rank in the Army is a Warrent Officer. Those are the experts in their field whether it is engineering, chemicals, mechanical or hundreds of other specific technologies. Warrant Officers reach the equivalent rank of a Colonel and that ain't bad while you are serving and for retirement. Warrent officers can be as hands-on as they wish to be, they are usually in charge of what is happening within their field. You may be able to apply for a Warrent Officer commission directly after enlisting. Check with a recruiting person for the details. The Army is much bigger than the Airforce and has more opportunities across the board. The chances of advancement are much greater particularly in the officer corp. warrent or otherwise. Talk to both Army and Airforce recruiters before deciding on either one. They want you and might offer some sweet deals.

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