A Best-kept Secret for Career Opportunities

By Tammy Jo Reibe on September 02, 2013
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Some students dream of the day they can enter the “working world” and leave high school far behind. Scott Mythen isn’t one of them.

Mythen, who plays the trumpet in a U.S. Navy band, says he loves his job, particularly because it reminds him of high school.

Ever imagine that playing the trumpet in a U.S. Navy band could be your full-time job? Mythen didn’t either, until he learned about the unique careers that are available when joining the military. Enlisting in the U.S. military can be as fun as high school at times, and it also can provide high school graduates with valuable on-the-job training that can serve you well in both military and civilian careers.

In fact, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps offer hundreds of career choices. Whether new recruits want to become night club managers, professional trumpet players, electricians or midwives, the U.S. military can get them on the right career track.

Mythen plays in the Navy Band Great Lakes, and is a member of a jazz ensemble. He has played at the Indianapolis 500, White Sox and Chicago Cubs baseball games, Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day parade, Chicago Bears games and at small town parades. Navy bands also perform at small, outdoor concerts in the Midwest, as well as at formal military ceremonies that the President has been invited to.

A typical day for Mythen, who joined the Navy after graduating from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in music education, includes a few hours of rehearsal with the band and a few hours of solo practice. He also works out each day, which he jokes “is just like gym.”

“We joke that it’s just like high school band,” he said, noting that he loves telling people that his full-time job is “just playing his trumpet.”  

Occupation: specialist

The U.S. Marine Corps offers more than 40 occupational fields, with hundreds of different jobs to choose from within those fields. Enlist in the Marines and you could become a canine handler with the military police, or you could choose to become a combat engineer.

Similarly, the U.S. Army offers 200 military occupational specialties (MOS) to choose from, and the U.S. Navy offers 70 different career fields. If you join the U.S. Air Force, you can choose from 150 career specialties. Other military branches, like the Coast Guard and the Army National Guard also have dozens of career opportunities.

All branches require applicants to pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test (ASVAB), which helps determine what a person’s career niche will be. Oscar Domino took the test simply to get out of his high school history class. When he sat down with a recruiter to go through the results, he was surprised at the career possibilities.

“There were 15 pages of jobs to choose from,” Domino said. “The only thing I ever heard about when I thought of the military was combat-type stuff, like infantry and artillery. So, when the career counselor said you qualified for 91-Delta, I said ‘What is that?’ I was thinking of something in the woods, digging a foxhole or something like that. The counselor said, ‘No. You are in surgery in the hospital.’”

A few weeks later, Domino joined the Army and headed off to basic training. Less than six months after basic training, he became Specialist Oscar Domino.

“I never thought I would be able to be in the medical field because of my education background. I went to college but never amounted to anything in college and dropped out,” Domino said. “You think of doctors and people that work in the O.R. (operating room), and you think of somebody that has a college degree. Being that I didn’t fit that bill, I was thinking there was no way it was going to happen.”

Today, Domino is on active duty and assists surgeons and physician’s assistants in surgery on a daily basis. He sets up the operating room, sterilizes equipment and passes the proper instruments while surgery is in session.  

Where do I start?

To join the military, you must be at least 17-years-old, have a high school diploma or GED and be physically fit. More specific enlistment requirements vary by military branch.

The average enlistment time is four years, with an additional four years of reserve duty. However, new recruits can be asked to sign a five or six-year contract for enlistment if the career fields they are entering into have particularly long training periods.

The military is not just boot camp, 100 push-ups and weapons. Instead, it can be a starting place to learn specialized skills that could eventually lead to a lifelong career in the Army or to a meaningful civilian career.

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