Career Advice for Army First Lieutenants

Today, I want to share some career advice for Army First Lieutenants.  I’m going to share seven things you should do as a First Lieutenant that can really help you with your Army Career.  Please keep in mind this is just my opinion based upon my personal experience.  Let’s get started.

1.  Stay at the Company Level

As a First Lieutenant, it would be in your best interest to stay at the Company Level, either as a Platoon Leader or Company XO. Don’t be tempted to take a staff position at the battalion or brigade.  Get as much troop experience as you can.  These are still your “formative”years in the Army and you won’t get much troop time after this, so enjoy it and use it your advantage.

2.  Get Some Experience as a Company XO

If at all possible, you want to spend some time as a Company XO.  Even if it is just a short six month assignment, DO IT.  This is a very important job to have before you ever become a Company Commander, so do what you can to secure this job.

3. Finish BOLC If You Haven’t Done So Yet

Most Lieutenants finish BOLC/OBC as a 2LT.  If you are behind the power curve, get it done!  You need it to get promoted to CPT and the skills you learn at BOLC will be very beneficial in your job.

4. Try to Get Airborne, Air Assault and Other Schools

Now is the time to get the military schools you want.  Whether it is Airborne, Air Assault, Sapper, Ranger, SF, or anything else, now is the time to get it done.  Decide what schools you want and talk to your boss about getting a slot for one of these military schools.

5. Start Building Your Network

As a 1LT, you want to expand your network.  You want to start meeting influential people inside and outside of your military organization. Get your name out there.  Join some associations.  Volunteer for ADOS.  Go to the big events.  Help out your peers.  Meet people outside of your organization.  Get some business cards made and hand them to everyone you meet.

6. Pursue a Graduate Degree

Having  a Master’s Degree is not mandatory for promotion to Captain, but having one is a great way to separate yourself from your peers. Research some online and local colleges and see what type of degree programs they offer.  This will help you in your civilian and military career.  In most cases, you can use your GI Bill or Tuition Assistance, so it shouldn’t cost you anything out of pocket.

7. DO NOT Take Company Command

I say this a lot on my website, but you DO NOT want to take command as a 1LT.  Yes, you could probably get the job done and do pretty well.  What you don’t have is the experience!  And experience is very important when you are in charge of 100+ Soldiers. You want the maturity and military leadership experience under your belt before you even consider command.  I wouldn’t recommend Company Command until you have been a Captain at least one to two years.

Final Thoughts

There you have it folks.  These are 7 pieces of career advice for Army First Lieutenants.  What do you think?  What is the best advice you can share with others?  Leave a comment below to tell me what you think.

7 thoughts on “Career Advice for Army First Lieutenants”

  1. As in all phases in military life. Make sure you have the experience you need to get the job done. Don't take an assignment just because it's available. You want to be the best leader, not just the guy who took the job.

    Also get your schools done early. It's much easier to knock out that stuff when your young and the military is willing to send you.

    Like I've mentioned before, make sure you keep your outside education moving. Promotions often come down to small things such as who has the better education.

  2. Your advice is quite sound. I firmly believe that people need to be at the ground floor and really get educated on the basic functions before they ought to move up. It garners more respect from your peers and subordinates if they know you’ve been there. That’s not to say that people should never take a leap and jump for promotion because you never know when you’re going to get another chance. I know there’s a promotions structure but is there a time frame (minimum or maximum) in which soldiers are expected to either advance or get out?

  3. Kelvin kwok

    I was a PL for two years and acting XO while for 6 months. I never had the full XO experience because I was transferred to staff due to shortage in manpower serving as the Acting S-3 with only 1 year as 1LT and the only officer to run the combined arms battalion operation. Everyone thinks I am insane to take this job and I do admit, it was very difficult especially MDMP on my first day. The rewards were incredible because I networked with lots of high ranking officers and get the most experience compared to all my peers. I am not saying that everyone should do the same because I was doing my Master’s and had no job, so I had some time to run the S3 shop. But if I can advice to all young LTs, the S3 shop will help a lot.

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