It's Not Just Fighting: Art and Design Careers in the Military

By Megan Driscoll

military army navy marine design illustration photography public relations video

Creatively-oriented individuals may not think of the military first when they're considering their options for professional development. But even if you don't plan to spend your entire career in the service, enlisting in the military can provide many advantages, including rigorous training, college tuition funds and a lifetime of healthcare and social benefits. The following are just a few of the military careers that can help you exercise and refine your art and design skills.

Public Affairs Specialists

Most branches of the military have public affairs and media relations officers. Although you have to achieve a relatively high rank for this position, which involves more communications than design, enlisted personnel can work under these officers as public affairs specialists. These individuals are responsible for the military's public image and do many of the same things that public relations professionals do in the civilian world, including producing brochures, writing press releases and disseminating information to media outlets.

Graphic Designers and Illustrators

Graphic designers can work in the public affairs departments making the above-mentioned promotional materials, or they can use their skills creating one of the many other types of publications produced by the military. These include internal reports, military newspapers and training manuals. Illustrators and designers may also have the opportunity to create logos and other images for posters, charts, signs and any television or video produced by their branches. And those with an interest in Web design can also assist with the design of internal and public military websites.

Printing Specialists

Start the presses! Several military branches use printing specialists to print their own materials. In addition to using digital printing and lithography techniques to produce printed matter, these personnel prepare layouts and photographic negatives for press, bind printed material and maintain the physical printing presses.

Photographic Specialists

Photography is widely used throughout all the branches of the military to gather intelligence, report on news from the field and collect images for the historical record. Photographic specialists use both digital and film equipment to take still images and develop and touch up photographs. Other duties include maintaining the photographic equipment and transmitting the finished images back to base. Some knowledge of chemistry can help with this position because photographic specialists are required to properly develop film images.

Audiovisual and Broadcast Technicians

Almost all branches of the military produce television programs and films in-house. These may be used for public communications and training purposes or to record news events, military operations or ceremonies. There are a variety of roles available to AV and broadcast technicians, including planning and designing scenery and special effects, writing and interpreting scripts and operating or adjusting equipment such as cameras, lighting and sound recorders.

Considering delaying your college education in order to join the military? Here are some of the pros and cons of enlisting.

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