How to Succeed in a Military Career


Succeeding in any career takes hard work, discipline and dedication. Succeeding in the military requires not only these traits, but the ability to work in dangerous, stressful situations while separated from family for long periods of time. It helps that the armed forces provide benefits that often surpass those of civilian organizations. Take advantage of educational, training and promotion benefits to help you succeed in your military career.

Keep Learning

  • Educational degrees help you advance in the military, and the armed forces offer tuition assistance to help you earn undergraduate and graduate degrees while you serve. Soldiers vying for the senior noncommissioned officer ranks, for example, have a stronger chance for promotion when they have a degree. Investigate the amount of tuition coverage you are eligible for and strive to keep learning. The Army, for example, may award as much as $4,500 a year in tuition assistance.

Embrace Exercise

  • Make fitness a priority and score well on physical training -- or PT -- tests. High PT scores help you during promotion reviews, and maintaining an acceptable weight helps you meet weight requirements. All military branches conduct PT tests and offer -- and sometimes mandate -- that you attend PT sessions with your assigned unit. Take advantage of free fitness facilities on military bases, and eat healthy meals, too. Consult a dietitian on post if you need guidance.

Graduate With Honors

  • To advance in rank, you must successfully attend leadership training in the military. Aim to pass these courses with honors to help you win promotions. Each branch has its own training policies governing officers and enlisted personnel. For example, as an Army enlistee, you can become the Distinguished Honor Graduate of a course, which takes into account high test scores and best overall performance. If you complete a course in the top 20 percent, you can become one of a few honor graduates.

Stay Self-Disciplined

  • Exercise self-discipline at all times to keep up with the demands of a job that often pushes you to the limit both mentally and physically. While all companies expect maturity from their employees, the military takes self-discipline to a higher level. You wake up very early most days, engage in physical training, perform your military job duties and often attend some type of mandated event, such as a drill.

Define Your Success

  • Define what success means to you and create a plan to achieve it. If making rank is important, discuss with your supervisors your goals and your time frame to receive a promotion. If getting a degree is a priority, visit the education center and research the process. If learning a new skill to use in the civilian world is your motive, then learn all you can as you perform your duties.

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