Army computer science jobs: How to get started
In some ways, the Army is a snapshot of civilian life. Just like the civilian world, the Army relies on healthcare personnel, financial and logistics experts, and public relations professionals. Army computer science jobs also play an important role in mission capability.
About 30 of the Army’s approximately 200 jobs focus on signals and intelligence. In the Army, this career group includes positions such as cyber and electronic warfare officers, information technology specialists, and cyber operations specialists. While not every military job has a civilian counterpart, many do.
“One enlisted career that has directly comparable roles in the civilian world is an information technology specialist, or 25B,” said Capt. Mia Figgs, a spokeswoman for the Army’s Recruiting Command Public Affairs Office.
“A soldier trained as an IT specialist can leave the Army and look at matching civilian occupations like computer and information systems managers, computer hardware engineers, computer systems analysts, database administrators.”
Army IT specialists operate and maintain complex military computer systems. “IT specialists are one of the top 10 priority occupations our recruiters across the country are working to fill at this time,” Figgs said.
Cyber operations specialists also have jobs with similar roles in the civilian world. Cyber ops specialists develop skills that can position them for civilian job opportunities. These opportunities may include working as industrial engineers, digital forensic analysts, information technology project managers, or logisticians.
Continue reading to learn more about Army career opportunities in cybersecurity and IT.
How do you join the Army?
The Army’s recruitment website explains the process and requirements to become a soldier. Enlisted roles are entry-level positions. You can enlist with a high school diploma or GED. Serving as a commissioned officer requires a four-year degree.
Military member benefits include hands-on training, money for higher education, housing, and healthcare. Military service also carries prestige. But your service also requires serious sacrifices. The most significant is that you may face life-threatening wartime situations.
If you’re OK with those requirements and sacrifices, here’s a basic breakdown of how to join:
Take the ASVAB
You must take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) to join the military. This written and timed test measures your verbal, math, technical, and spatial skills. Your ASVAB score is one factor that determines your military job opportunities.
After taking the ASVAB, you must complete 10 weeks of basic combat training. The Army conducts basic training at several locations, including Fort Jackson in South Carolina, Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, and Fort Sill in Oklahoma.
Advanced Individual Training
After completing basic training, you’ll attend Advanced Individual Training. This job-specific training teaches you the fundamentals of your career. The length of your advanced training is also job-specific. To become an Army information technology specialist, for example, you’ll receive 20 weeks of paid training.
Become an officer
Several paths exist to becoming an Army officer beyond attending a military academy. You can graduate from a college-level Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program. You can also attend Officer Candidate School, a 12-week program for people who have at least a bachelor’s degree. The Army also offers direct commissions for some fields, such as healthcare, legal, and cyber jobs.
People interested in cyber or IT fields may also serve as warrant officers. These are the Army’s technical experts. Warrant officers may also train other soldiers and advise senior leaders.
What cyber and IT-related jobs is the Army focused on now?
The Army has entry-level and officer roles available in a variety of cyber jobs, from cyber operations and electronic warfare specialist to satellite communication system operators and beyond.
However, Lt. Col. Dean Carter, a spokesman for the Army’s Cyber Center of Excellence, said the Army is focused on developing an overall talent pipeline rather than filling specific jobs.
“For positions in the cyber field,” Carter said, the Army’s focus is on “growing the talent with more STEM-focused programs in middle and high schools. We are very deliberate in selecting the talent we bring into the career field because these individuals form the maneuver teams in the information dimension.”
“With the understanding that Gen Z are more likely than millennials to go to their parents or other adult influencers,” Carter continued, “we are providing advocacy information to those influencers so they can give sound advice and guidance about the Army as a career choice, specifically focused on the qualifications and talent needed to become a cyberspace professional.”
Responding to recruiting challenges
About 200,000 people leave the military each year. Many want to continue working.
In the civilian sector, employment in computer and information technology jobs will grow by 13% from 2020 to 2030. That’s faster than the average for all occupations. In the midst of the Great Resignation, the military is also competing for talented people, Figgs said.
Outside support is necessary to respond to military recruitment challenges, according to one source.
“Two of the biggest challenges we face for all of our career fields are awareness and qualifications,” said Figgs. “Less than half of today’s young people understand what their Army does or the careers and benefits it offers. Additionally, less than 29% of individuals in the 17- to 34-year-old population meet the minimum qualifications to serve in the military.”
This article was reviewed by Dr. Michael J. Kirchner
Dr. Michael J. Kirchner is an assistant professor of organizational leadership at Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he teaches courses in leadership and human resource development. Dr. Kirchner also serves as the campus’ veteran resource center director.
Previously, Kirchner oversaw the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Military and Veterans Resource Center, where he guided programming for the campus’ 1,500+ military-affiliated student population. Under his leadership (2013-2016), the campus built a nationally recognized “military-college-career” framework focusing on supporting student veteran transitions.
Kirchner earned his Ph.D. in human resource development from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His research on career transitions and leadership development has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, including Human Resource Development Quarterly, Advances in Developing Human Resources, New Horizons in Adult Education and Human Resource Development, and Industrial and Commercial Training.
Kirchner is the founder and president of Time for Development LLC, where he provides consulting to organizations on military-friendly programming, human resource development strategy, and training design. He served for a year in Baghdad, Iraq, from 2004-2005 as part of the U.S. Army National Guard.
Kirchner is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network.
Page last reviewed January 13, 2022.