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How to specialize as an officer
Last Post 29 Nov 2010 07:57 AM by FloridaGirl. 5 Replies.
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FloridaGirlUser is Offline
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FloridaGirl

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22 Nov 2010 08:34 PM
    I recently DEPed in, but I also turned in my packet for OCS.  I am going to do my interview soon. In my research, it dawned on me that I know very, very little about what officers do, and how they get to their career goals.  I know as an officer you eventually work your way to a specialization after OCS (I also know you can specialize in more than one thing, but we'll keep this simple).  When does this start?  With your first billet?  If so, when you pick your first billet at OCS, do you pick based on the type of job you'd be doing?  I was told I wouldn't have much of a say in my job, just my location.  For example, if I wanted to be an aviator, assuming I don't go directly to flight school, should I pick a billet that would allow me to work in aviation?  Or if I wanted to be an Intelligence Officer, how could I get there?
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    CoochUser is Offline
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    22 Nov 2010 08:56 PM
    From what I've seen as an enlisted member for the last 12 years, the only way to truly specialize as an officer is to become a pilot. I have seem some Marine Safety officers come close to specializing, but they always seem to do staff tours as well. From what I know of OCS, your assignment revolves around your position in the class. If you are at the top of your class, you get a much better choice. That may change from class to class for all I know, but the people that I've sent through OCS tell me that's how it works. If you want to be an aviator, and you don't go directly to flight school, it really doesn't matter what type of unit you go to. You will still have the opportunity to requet flight school, so long as you are otherwise qualified (i.e. flight physical).
    You can meet the standard, or you can set the standard. It's your choice.
    Old Guard2User is Offline
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    23 Nov 2010 06:37 AM
    Jim was M as enlisted and still M as an officer. He did a tour at HQ but he was writing policy on MODU (Mobile Offshore Drilling Units) so with the exception of 24 months as a non-rate M is the only field he has been involved in. Again, while I thought his career was very normal I'm finding out more & more his was far from the norm. However specialization can be done. I know one of our very best friends went directly from OCS to flight school, he was a mustang and he was an MST as well. I doubt MST had anything to do with it but would being a mustang get him there directly??? I don't know, I'm asking. I just know that was there were assigned from OCS.
    Sector NY, Staten Island
    sardaddyUser is Offline
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    sardaddy

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    28 Nov 2010 06:14 AM
    EVERYONE does staff tours including pilots. Specialization is becoming an increasing focus in the officer world. To answer your questions, let me take you through the process.

    You get to OCS and are doing a good job. You will try to pick from the jobs available to the class and being a new officer, you really won't have an incredibly great grasp of what each job entails so you will probably pick the jobs that sound cool. It may be a HQ job, a job at a Sector, or Marine safety, or even flight school. With the exception of flight school, the job really doesn't matter that much. You will go to the station and learn some basic stuff about being an officer and eventually get put right into the swing of doing the job. Then it will be time to go to your next station and this is when you can start trying to specialize. If you are thinking intel is a good field you will scrub the openings that are intel related and try to get assigned there. Talking to your detailer or a career counselor in Officer land (OCA) will help you get to where you want to be. Then after being assigned there for a certain period of time, you will talk to your detailer and try to get specialties attached to your name. This will help you focus in future assignments.

    Becoming a pilot is a tough example as we do things way differently than other officers. You can go to flight school right out of OCS which can take up to 2 years. After that you will go to an air station, then probably another air station. After that, it may be grad school, another airstation or a staff job. Then who knows? The only thing we know is that we won't command a ship. Aviators compete for multiple Sector and headquarter positions along with air station billets. While others cannot compete for air station positions.

    To keep from getting too into the weeds, your first billet doesn't really matter unless you apply for flight school. You can cross into any specialty from that tour. I would suggest however, that if you have a specific career in mind right off the bat, try to align your first station with that interest. It will help you decide if that is really what you want to do for the rest of your career.
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    28 Nov 2010 06:41 AM
    good answer Sardaddy. I had an LT trying to explain to me how it worked. he went to one unit then he got stationed somewhere else. Then he had to really decide what area he wanted to look at doing. I think he is at a sector now. It is completely different then the enlisted ranks where you specialize from a school. But then you have to remember you might be specialized in an area but doesnt mean you are specialized per a specific type of unit. As a MST i might be doing PSCO or Facilities one tour and the next tour could be doing waterways or pollution just up in the air but i still have to have a grasp for all of them
    FloridaGirlUser is Offline
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    29 Nov 2010 07:57 AM
    Thank you so much Sardaddy! That was exactly the information I was looking for.
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