Careers in the Army National Guard: Job Options and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a National Guard soldier. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training and job duties to find out if this is the career for you.

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Serving at home rather than abroad, the National Guard has enlistment options for three, six, or eight year commitments, which requires one weekend a month of training plus one two-week training session each year. Job options include entering infantry, aviation, or artillery positions. For those members of the National Guard committed to less than eight years, they must serve out the remaining years on non-service as part of the Individual Ready Reserve.

Essential Information

National Guard members are different from other Army members because they are more likely to serve at home in their own communities during disasters such as floods, fires and storms than overseas. These combat-ready soldiers spend one weekend a month in training, which is supplemented by an annual 2-week training period. National Guard soldiers receive career training and hands-on experience in their field of interest. The National Guard offers over 150 different job options in a number of specialty areas, referred to as Military Occupational Specialties (MOS).

Required Education None
Other Requirements Army-specific training courses
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) No expected change*
Salary (2016) for Regular Army Active Duty E1- Less than 4 months $1,449 monthly**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **U.S. Army

Job Requirements

Soldiers joining the National Guard may enlist for three, six or eight years. Those committing to less than eight years must serve the remaining five or two years as Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) soldiers. IRR soldiers don't train regularly, but may still be called on to serve in the event of an emergency. Each MOS has a special set of requirements that soldiers learn to meet during training weekends and annual training periods.

Soldiers go through six different phases of National Guard training: Red, White Stripes, White, Blue, Green and Gold phases. Each phase offers soldiers opportunities to gain skills and prepare for emergency and combat situations.

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Job Options

National Guard career paths include positions in infantry and artillery. These positions teach soldiers combat, defense and offense skills. Soldiers who receive medical training will be equipped to improve the health of civilians and other army members, and save the lives of soldiers wounded during combat.

Soldiers may also choose to join the aviation branch of the National Guard, an option that can teach them skills such as aircraft repair, air traffic control and aerial vehicle operation. National Guard members may choose to become military police, gaining law enforcement and criminal investigation skills. Some National Guard jobs require special skills or advanced training, so the Army offers a cash-signing bonus for these critical positions.

Salary and Employment Outlook

The Army National Guard takes a number of factors (like rank, number of years of military experience, MOS and whether the person is on drill or active status) into consideration when determining a National Guard soldier's pay. In 2016, a private with the E-1 pay grade and no years of experience earned a monthly base pay of $1,449 while on active duty. The soldier could earn additional pay for special duty assignments or having in-demand skills. From 2014 until 2024, all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces were predicted to have good employment opportunities for qualified recruits.

Training for the Army National Guard involves six stages, preparing soldiers to handle both emergency and combative scenarios. Ground soldiers may learn about defense and offense, and those specializing in medical training learn to treat wounded soldiers while in combat. Some members of the National Guard are involved in law enforcement, while other positions requiring more specialized skills have cash bonuses for signing up.

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