One of the most popular questions that people ask me concerning their Army Career is how long should I stay in one Army Job? In my professional opinion, I don’t believe anyone should stay in ANY one Army Job more than 24 months, ever. That includes command time, too. In most cases, the ideal time in one job is 12 to 18 months. And 12 months is better than 18 months (in my opinion). The minimum time I would want to spend in one Army job is 9 months and the maximum is 24 months.
Why do I say these things? Well first of all, you need to have a variety of jobs so you can round out your experience. If you want to be competitive for tough assignments and promotions you need to stand above the pack. And of the easiest ways to do that is to bounce around in different jobs and get a lot of experience doing different things.
Of course, you have to do a GOOD JOB with your Army jobs. You have to go above and beyond what is expected and be a top producer. If you get fired from job to job, or bounced around because your performance is horrible, that doesn’t count toward my advice.
If you have 10 years in the Army and you’ve only had five jobs and you go before a board with someone who had 8 jobs during the same period, who do you think has the advantage? Once again, that’s assuming all other things are equal and you both did well in your jobs. I believe the person with more jobs has the advantage over the other person with fewer jobs. Once again, that is just my personal opinion.
Why do I have these time frames for your time in each job? Here is my explanation to you:
- Anything less than 9 months in an Army Job and it will probably look like you were fired or bounced around. And it’s hard to get “qualified” experience with less than nine months in a job. Some people (boards) might not take your evaluation too seriously if it’s a real short rating period.
- Nine to 18 months is great because you learn new skills, get some experience, and will probably have tangible results you can document on your evaluation report.
- When in command, 18 to 24 months is a good standard. And 24 months is better than 18 months.
- When you stay in a job more than 24 months, you tend to plateau. I’ve found that most people stop learning new skills in a job after six to 12 months. Anything more than 24 months probably hurts you.
DISCLAIMER: These are my personal thoughts, not the view of any government agency.
Yes, Officers tend to move around more than enlisted. But even enlisted Soldiers need to monitor this closely and know WHEN it’s time to get transferred, move on, or move out of their job.
At the end of the day, it’s up to YOU to manage your career effectively. It’s true; no one else cares about your career as much as you do. Now you know! If no one has ever taught you this advice before, you can no longer say you don’t know how long to be in a job. I hope you take this advice and apply it in your military career.
If you have any questions or additional advice, please post them below. Thank you.