How to Find Veterans with the Precise Skills You Need

Written by Kevin S. Bemel

Sunday, 01 October 2017 03:30

You Can Break Military Occupational Specialty Codes…

2-½ minutes to read

(NOTE: This is part of a series of articles for civilians who want to help veterans transition better. If you’re current or former military, pass this on to a civilian friend.)

Last week’s post showed how to assess the experience and educational level of military people. You saw the typical veteran is ahead of his civilian peers on both counts. But businesses and veterans struggle to understand each other when talking about skills. Nonetheless, you can pinpoint the ones you need. The bureaucratic nature of the military will do most of the work for you.

How to Find Veterans with the Precise Skills You Need

Job Specialties by the Numbers

Next time you meet a veteran, ask him what his military specialty was. Chances are you’ll get an answer like, “I was an 11 bravo.” Bravo is the phonetic alphabet equivalent of the letter B. The number and letter combination is called a Military Occupational Specialty Code. The Army has about 190 of them.

Each branch of the military classifies its people according to codes. They go by the following names:

Army - Enlisted: Military Occupational Specialty Code (MOS)

Army – Warrant Officers: Warrant Officer Military Occupational Specialty Code (WOMOS)

Army – Officers: Area of Concentration (AOC)

Marine Corps – Enlisted: Military Occupational Specialty Code (MOS)

Marine Corps – Officers: Military Occupational Specialty Code (MOS)

Navy - Enlisted: Rating

Navy - Officer: Designator

Air Force – Enlisted: Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC)

Air Force – Officers: Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC)

Each service has a different coding system. Most are combinations of numbers and letters. The Navy is the last holdout for using names, such a yeoman or SWO (Surface Warfare Officer). The links in the above list will take you to guidance current as of this writing.

In addition to these basic classifications, service members can earn specialty designations. Again, they go by different names. The Army has ASIs, Additional Skill Identifiers. The Navy has NEBCs, Navy Enlisted Billet Classification codes. In a simple example, if you need an office manager, the related Navy rating is a yeoman with a NEBC of 1815 – Office Manager.

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Many service members haven't done the paperwork to get these designations. But they’ll know the ones relevant to their job specialty. If you choose to learn ASIs, NECBs, and the like, you can be even more specific about your job needs.

Put Your New Knowledge into Practice

Let’s look at an example of how this can work in practice. Say you need a geographic information system (GIS) analyst. The military is the perfect place to find one. Every service branch has this job specialty.

The relevant codes are:

Army: 12Y – Geospatial Engineer and 35G -Geospatial Intelligence Imagery Analyst

Marine Corps: 0261 – Geographic Intelligence Specialist

Navy: AG - Aerographer's Mate

Air Force: 3E5X1 – Engineering

The names associated with the codes can be deceiving. Service members in these job specialties get trained in and use GIS systems.

Combine this information with what you learned in my previous post. If you want an entry-level GIS analyst, look for a veteran in the E-3 or E-4 pay grades. He’ll have a working knowledge of various systems. If you want a more experienced analyst who can be a team leader, target the E-5 and E-6 pay grades.

An E-6 with 8 years of military service earns $62,600 after adjusting his pay for the third that’s non-taxable. Salaries I’ve seen for GIS analysts range up to $70,000 so pay expectations mesh. Figure out the typical pay of a service member you're targeting using my Military-to-Civilian Pay Convertor.

When you post your job openings, include language like the following:


Seeking E-5s or E-6s in military specialties

Army - 12Y or 35G, Marine Corps – 0261, Navy – AG, Air Force - 3E5X1

Consider posting your job opening in veteran’s groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Although there are hundreds of specialties, many won’t apply to your organization. Once you learn the ones that do, you can communicate your specific needs.  Your ability to speak directly to veterans will give you a competitive advantage. Now go out and hire adaptable, well-trained, experienced military people.

What do you find most confusing about how the military personnel structure works?

© 2024, Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some links in the above post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guide Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”