Yesterday, I wrote about how to pick the right MOS when you enlist in the Army. Today, I want to educate you about how to pick the right Army Officer branch when you get commissioned.
I should start out by telling you that you really don’t get to “pick” your Army Officer branch. Basically, you get to pick “three” branches that interest you, and then the Army decides which branch you get, based upon the needs of the Army. So, it’s partially out of your control.
I had people I graduated college/ROTC with that got their first choice, but many didn’t. It’s weird because I was near the bottom of my ROTC class and I got my top choice (Quartermaster) yet other students who did much better than me academically didn’t all get their top choice. It’s funny how things work out.
Even though you don’t ultimately get to pick your branch, I still think you should put some thought into the officer branch(es) that you request. Here are a few things to think about.
# 1 Do You Plan on Making a Career Out of the Army?
The first thing you should consider is “do you plan on making a career out of the Army?” I understand that you might not be able to answer that question objectively right now. After all, you’re probably just 21-22 years old and you aren’t really sure what your life’s purpose is. That being said, if you think you are going to be a lifer in the Army, I would definitely pick a branch that interests me the most. If you plan on just doing four to five years in the Army and then moving on to a civilian career, you might want to consider a branch that will help prepare you for your future civilian occupation.
# 2 What branches do you think would interest you the most?
Here’s what I learned after serving as an officer for more than a decade. If you love your branch, you’re probably going to do very well with your Army career. People who love what they do are typically very productive and good at what they do (in most cases anyway). I would make a list of your natural talents, abilities, and passions and then ask yourself “what officer branch lets you leverage those talents, abilities, and passions the most?” You can also have the other mindset and pick the branch you think will be the most fun and most challenging.
# 3 What branches would give you job skills you can use after the Army?
Once again, if you plan on just doing one stint in the Army and then resigning your commission, pick a branch that prepares you for whatever career you think you want to have.
# 4 What branch gives you the most career opportunities?
If you plan on making a career out of the Army, you should evaluate each branch that interests you and try to figure out which one gives you the best career opportunities in the Army.
Additional Things to Consider
Once you know your top five to seven branches, I would do some additional research. Spend some time on YouTube to learn more about each branch. Interview current and former Army Officers in the branches that interest you and find out what they have to say and recommend. Surf the internet. There is tons of information about every branch online.
Do your preliminary research and then whittle your list down to your top three choices. After that, all you can do is cross your fingers and hope for the best.
I should also remind you that just because you don’t get the branch you want doesn’t mean you are trapped in that branch forever. In many cases, you will have the opportunity to acquire a new branch when you are a Captain and attend your Captain’s Career Course.
I should also remind you that most new officers in the Army do similar tasks, regardless of their branch. The only real exception might be Aviation. Most new lieutenants are Platoon Leaders, responsible for supervising NCOs and Soldiers. Most officers are managers and leaders, regardless of their branch.
Choosing the right Army Officer branch is a big decision. Even though the “Big Army” ultimately gets to pick your branch, you should spend a considerable amount of time researching branches ahead of time, so you can make an educated decision about which branches you want to be considered for.
What are your thoughts? What do you recommend? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.