Army NCO Career Advice from Other ARNG and USAR NCOs

Post Compiled from Reader Comments

Here are the results from a recent survey I sent out to my email list.  I asked “what is the best career advice you can give other ARNG and USAR NCOs?”  These are the responses.  I tried not modify the answers in any way. When required, I fixed the typos.  Also, I deleted a few duplicate answers.  Finally, I removed the sender’s name and email to protect their identity.  Enjoy the comments.  There are a few gems in here.

  • Read & Study what top NCOs have done to become successful – ask them questions, the good ones love to share!
  • Talk to a career development NCO…not just a Recruiter – especially if you are TPU, there are a lot of opportunities available at all levels.
  • Do not become COMPLACENT! – You’ll never know it all…you must find the joy in the journey.
  • Care about Maintenance! If personnel aren’t doing THEIR jobs maintaining equipment to the highest readiness standards, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but ONE DAY, they WILL fail to accomplish their prescribed mission!
  • For new ones(NCOs): You are no longer Joe. You are going to have to make that Hard right and do things the right way. You no longer wear the Sham Shield like your buddies. If you happen to be over your buddies and they call you on it, you are going to have to be prepared to tell them that you are an NCO now and there are higher expectations for NCOs. You should always be training for the next higher rank. If you treat your E4s like E4s they will act like E4s. If you treat your E4s like E5s they will start to act like E5s and will make excellent NCOs once they are promoted. Don’t make a promise you can’t keep.
  • For current NCOs: You should always be training for the next higher rank. If you treat your E4s like E4s they will act like E4s. If you treat your E4s like E5s they will start to act like E5s and will make excellent NCOs once they are promoted. Don’t make a promise you can’t keep.  Remember to treat your fellow NCOs with respect even if they are lower ranking. Degrading your subordinates will not help you, but make you look like a fool. If you are not the SME, listen to ideas and discuss solutions that will better the SME and the unit and allow you to come out smelling like a rose. Forcing something that you are not familiar with will result in poor outcome. Lastly, if you are wrong, just admit it/acknowledge it, correct it, and move on. Just don’t forget to learn from it.
  • Complete NCOES when slot is open and try exceed course standards
  • Stay physically fit
  • Take on demanding positions.
  • Always look for career progression
  • Never quit at anything you do
  • Never turn down any schools offered to you
  • Constantly build yourself professionally and personally

I’m trying to grow this list of NCO Career Advice for Part-Time Army NCOs.  Please share any career advice you know of by leaving a comment to this post. Also, if you have any questions that are not answered by these, feel free to ask here and we will attempt to answer it for you.  Thanks.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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4 thoughts on “Army NCO Career Advice from Other ARNG and USAR NCOs”

  1. Additional NCO career advice might include get and keep mentors, be a worthy mentor, and be willing learn how to use and use new technology in ways that follow the rules and that help the ARNG reach its goals. There are also things we do not need to do in career especially in leadership positions. We don’t have to do what we love, but it is cool if we grow to love what we do. We don’t need to make ourselves indispensible. Trying to do that will lead to burnout and a bad transformation when we leave for other positions.

  2. Neil O'Donnell

    Given the burdens placed on NCOs, it seems that managing time well is critical for success. Developing a weekly routine that incorporates a lot of the advice above would help assure career advancement and success. Specifically, set weekly times to inspect equipment/oversee maintenance, speak with other NCOs for advice, and train, physically and mentally, for future exams and roles.

    1. Most ARNG and USAR NCOs have lots of responsibilities outside of drill weekend. It’s next to impossible to get everything done in just 2 days a month. Learning to manage your time effectively is one of the most important things a NCO can do.

  3. This is very helpful advice coming from experienced officers. It’s especially helpful considering the unstable economic climate. It’s always helpful to get advice from higher ranking officers, but you should also consider your other resources, as well.

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