In this post, I want to share 8 Tips to Stay Proficient with Your Army MOS. As Citizen Soldiers, we have to maintain our MOS Skills, even though we typically only train two days each month. This is much easier said than done. In fact, this puts us at a huge disadvantage compared to our Active Duty counterparts. After all, they get to train every day. They don’t have two careers like we do.
Therefore, I want to share some simple things you can do to stay proficient with your MOS, even on a part-time basis. These tips are listed in no particular order.
# 1 Attend Minimum One Military School per Year
Leaders are life-long learners. I recommend you attend minimum one military school each year. If you look in ATTRS you will plenty of schools offered by the Army and PEC (Professional Education Center). Try to find courses related to your MOS, or a course that can teach you a new skill. When you attend these schools you will earn money, you will meet new people, you will get more retirement points and most importantly, you will learn new skills. This gives you a huge advantage over your peers who do not attend these schools regularly.
# 2 Do One Correspondence Course Each Month
When you login to AKO, you will find access to hundreds (maybe thousands) of different correspondence courses. Start out by looking for courses related to your MOS. Take all those correspondence courses first. Make it a goal to do minimum one correspondence course each month. This will help you get promotion points and retirement points too. If you do one correspondence course each month for a year, you would build up 10 to 25 extra retirement points (and promotion points) each year.
# 3 Read One Book a Month
Leaders are readers. Go to your local library or search on Amazon for a list of books related to your MOS. For example, if you are an Infantry Sergeant, you can look for books about combat, books about the Infantry, military history examples, and so forth. Make it a goal to read one book each month. If you don’t enjoy reading you can buy the audio CD version. If you read one book a month for your 20-year career, that would be 240 books. If you read one book a week for your 20-year career, that would be 1,040 books. Think about how much information you would learn if you read that many books.
# 4 Take 2-3 College Classes Each Year
Most communities have a college or community college with lots of different continuing education classes. For example, if you are a Combat Engineer you can take different engineering classes to sharpen your skills. This will really help you out. You will learn new skills and keep up with changes in your field. Best of all, you will get college credits, promotion points and retirement points. And you can use your GI Bill or Tuition Assistance to pay for your education. I call it the “one night of classes a week for the rest of your life” program. It’s what smart leaders do.
# 5 Spend 15-30 Days on ADOS Each Year
Whenever I served on ADOS I always learned new MOS related skills. Sit down with you rater or senior rater to find out if there are any opportunities to serve on ADOS or ADSW in your unit, or in a different unit. Each year try to spend 15-30 days serving on ADOS. This will give you extra money and extra retirement points. Best of all, you will learn new MOS Skills and meet new people.
# 6 Volunteer for a Deployment
A one year deployment is equivalent to 5-6 years experience working one weekend a month. The easiest and best way to improve your MOS Skills is to deploy, especially to a combat zone. You will get to do your MOS day in and day out. Also, you can earn a combat patch, save some money and become a combat veteran. This experience will put you way ahead of your peers who have not deployed.
# 7 Do 2-4 Hours+ of MOS Training Each Drill Weekend
Every drill weekend, you should schedule time for MOS Training for you and your Soldiers. Try to do at least 2-4 hours of MOS Training every single drill weekend. I know that you will have other requirements too, but make the time to do this, even if you have to come in early or stay late. It will benefit you immensely. The best training is hands on training. Try to mix classroom instruction with hands on training. When possible, get out of the armory and go off site, so you can eliminate the distractions. ALWAYS look for ways to incorporate MOS Training into everything else you are doing.
# 8 Read Field Manuals and Army Regulations
While this method is often overlooked, it might be the easiest and best way to stay proficient with your MOS. Every MOS has lots of different circulars, regulations or manuals that you can read to maintain and develop your skills. It might not be the most exciting reading out there, but you can spend a few hours reading a Field Manual and learn a lot. I’ve done it myself many times and always found the information very helpful. Do a search for all the Field Manuals concerning your MOS and download a copy of each one online. Make it a goal to read one FM every 90 days. By doing so, you will always be on top of your game.
In summary, these are my eight favorite ways to stay proficient in your MOS, especially for NCOs and Soldiers serving part-time in the Army National Guard and Army Reserves. I’ve found that the best military leaders take their “education” very seriously. They look at it as a life-long process and do something to better themselves every single day.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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6 thoughts on “How to Stay Proficient in Your Army MOS”
Once again I can appreciate how much of what works for the Army would also work in the civilian sector. Are soldiers and officers tested to see if they are maintaining their skill? Being proactive is something we can learn from leaders. Rather than waiting until mistakes or sloppiness occurs as the result of loss of functioning. We talk about the same thing in medicine, maintaining profiency and taking “ownership” of our patients and their circumstances.
We aren’t really tested, but we do get refresher training and a train up before deployments. We also attend our professional development schools as needed.
Infantry skills are highly perishable, and there are so many relevant FMs that you can spend plenty of time brushing up on all those things you knew once but have forgotten, even if FM reading isn’t always the most exciting stuff. I’m sure the same applies to other MOSs. It’s also important to realize that FMs do get updated from time to time. Everyone has access to FMs (and TMs, and ARs) on AKO, so check every now and then to see whether you have the most current version of the FMs related to your MOS. If not, download the new one, see what’s changed, and educate your Soldiers.
If you supervise others, you definitely need to “stay up” with the current FMs so you know what is going on in your MOS. And like you said, make sure you keep your soldiers educated too.
Great post, Chuck. Making time to proactively maintain your knowledge and skill set in whatever job a soldier is doing in the military is excellent advice. In particular, Guard soldiers do not use their skills every day as regular Army soldiers do, so the potential for getting rusty is higher. This includes leadership, not only for themselves, but for their soldiers as well. I believe it is important for all soldiers to take ownership of remaining proficient in their MOS’s; however, I also believe that leaders have a duty to provide regular training opportunities as well.
I love your point about “taking ownership” of staying proficient. I used to tell that to my soldiers all the time.