STEM Careers in the Guard: A Spotlight on Engineering

This fall, On Your Guard is taking a look at STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math careers offered by the Army National Guard. These are fast-growing fields. In fact, the U.S. Department of Commerce is projecting a 17 percent growth in STEM jobs by 2018. Compare that to non-STEM jobs, which are expected to grow by only 9.8 percent.

Why is this news important? Because Guard service is a part-time commitment, many of our Soldiers make the most of their skills training and the Guard’s education benefits to build successful full-time civilian careers.

This week, we’ll take a look at Engineering.

The Engineering field within the Army National Guard offers a lot of different paths. If you’re more of a project planner and big picture person, you might consider the 12T Technical Engineer Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). Technical Engineers conduct land surveys, make maps and prepare detailed plans and drawings for construction projects, including plans for wiring and plumbing.

But If you’re more of a hands-on person, you may want to look into Specialist (SPC) Boomer Paschall’s MOS – 12N Horizontal Construction Engineer. These engineers use heavy construction equipment to clear or prepare land for construction.

“We do football fields, roads, projects like that for the community,” says SPC Paschall.

The idea of serving the community was a major draw for SPC Paschall when he joined the Oregon National Guard five years ago.

“The fact that I could be of service, go home every night for the most part, and be stateside in the community … I was sold. Just giving back, I think it’s a beautiful thing to be able to do that.”

It’s during his annual two weeks of training that SPC Paschall and his Engineering Unit get to work on projects in the community like tearing out overgrown trees and breaking up aging asphalt like they did for a local school’s parking lot a couple of years ago.

SPC Boomer Paschall, (back right) and his Unit pose in front of a firing range wall they worked on last summer with the heavy construction equipment they used to do it.

SPC Boomer Paschall, (back right) and his Unit pose in front of a firing range wall they worked on last summer with the heavy construction equipment they used to do it.

SPC Paschall, like all new Soldiers, attended Advanced Individual Training (AIT) to learn the skills he would need to perform the job. Soldiers in this particular MOS learn how to operate bulldozers, backhoe loaders, front-end loaders, Humvees, dump trucks, water trucks (used to keep down the dust during excavation), and grading equipment.

This training also comes in handy when the Guard is called up to respond to natural disasters like floods and hurricanes, or in SPC Paschall’s case, a potential earthquake. He and his Unit have been preparing for this kind of event by training in rubble clearing and search and rescue techniques because of their proximity to the Cascadia Fault line on the Oregon coast, which is “long overdue” for an earthquake.

SPC Paschall says the most important traits to have in his line of work are “attention to detail and safety, and being willing to take advice on how to do things. You’re operating heavy equipment. A lot can go wrong. You definitely need to be aware of your surroundings.”

So while the Horizontal Construction Engineers are busy tearing things down, other Engineering MOSs in the Guard focus on building things up. Just click on the links to learn more about these jobs:

12B Combat Engineer

12C Bridge Crewmember

12K Plumber

12R Interior Electrician

12V Concrete and Asphalt Equipment Operator

12W Carpentry and Masonry Specialist

So if you have an interest in a STEM field, the ASVAB, or Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery should help you identify your strengths. In the meantime, to learn more about any of the Guard’s 150 career fields, visit our job board or contact a recruiter today.

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On Your Guard Flashback: A Spotlight on Engineering

In September 2013, On Your Guard ran the following Spotlight on Engineering. Since we’ve been talking about STEM careers this summer, with engineering the focus this month, we thought we’d flashback and repost. The info is still relevant and focuses on the more surprising aspects of engineering in the Army National Guard. Be sure to click the links to read a more detailed description for each military occupational specialty and to view nationwide openings on our jobs board.

Engineering in the Guard is not entirely what you might expect. Sure, there are technical engineers and geospatial engineers and mechanical engineers. But did you know the 12-series Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) also includes plumbers, electricians, concrete equipment operators, and a bunch more job titles that offer a direct correlation with civilian skilled labor trades? Surprise!

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll find by selecting “Engineer” in the Category dropdown menu of the National Guard jobs board.

12B Construction Specialist

Okay, we fibbed. Sort of. This one actually does have the word “engineer” in the real title, which reads “12B Combat Engineer – Construction and Engineering Specialist.” But, in addition to a possible civilian career in structural engineering, this MOS could also lead to jobs related to building inspection, various types of construction, and more.

In the Guard, 12B Combat Engineers design and build roadways and bridges; secure perimeters and tactical firing systems; and detect and safely neutralize mines and other dangers.

12C Bridge Crewmember

Bridge Crewmembers often work hand-in-hand with Combat Engineers on jobs that keep army vehicles moving over both wet and dry gap crossings. You get to learn the engineering principles and basic construction methods associated with building bridges, which of course has a direct correlation to working on any civilian bridge construction crew.

12D Diver

And how cool would it be to serve as a Diver in the Guard? You know you’ve always wanted to learn. Some military operations – like reconnaissance, patrol, construction, repair, demolition, and salvage – actually take place under water. So, Guard Scuba Divers work just below the surface of the water and Guard Deep Sea Divers work for long periods in depths of up to 300 feet.

You may be thinking, “Great, but diving’s just a hobby.” So not true. Oil companies, salvage companies, construction firms, police and fire rescue units, and shipping enterprises – all often require some form of underwater specialist.

12G Quarrying Specialist

If the concept of reducing a mountain to rubble sounds even cooler, then you won’t be disappointed as a Quarrying Specialist in the Guard. These Soldiers make gravel by blasting rock, putting it through two crushing stages, cleaning it in a washing station, and delivering the finished product to the project site. These skills are excellent for pursuing a civilian career with building contractors, state highway agencies, rock quarries, well drillers, and construction firms.

12K Plumber

“Pipe system engineer” is not really a euphemism when you’re talking about choosing a 12K MOS. National Guard Plumbers work on pipe systems for water, steam, and waste, as well as hydraulic and pneumatic systems. Duties include reading drawings, plans, and specifications; planning the layout of pipe systems; and installing and maintaining pipe systems and plumbing fixtures – all of which prepares you for a civilian career in commercial and residential plumbing.

12M Firefighter

Yes, firefighting is an engineering job in the Guard. Army bases have their own fire protection personnel who are responsible for protecting lives and property by controlling and helping to prevent fires in buildings and on aircraft. Just like in the civilian world, they perform firefighting and rescue operations, operate firefighting equipment and vehicles, administer first aid, and respond to hazardous material emergencies. Plus, the training and certifications are the same ones you need to be a firefighter in your community, whether it’s on a paid crew or as a local volunteer.

12R Interior Electrician

If there are “pipe system engineers” in the National Guard, it only makes sense that there’d be “wire system engineers” as well. The 12R Interior Electrician offers all the training you need to work for public utilities or commercial and residential contractors. You learn how to install and wire electrical hardware – like transformers, junction boxes, service panels, electrical boxes, switches, and circuit breakers – found in offices, repair shops, airplane hangars, and other buildings.

12V Concrete and Asphalt Equipment Crewmember

How many construction projects require concrete or asphalt? In the Guard, the answer is: a lot. (Think roads, building foundations, airfields, etc.) Learning how to produce concrete with a concrete mobile mixer, as well as operate asphalt distributors, aggregate spreaders, asphalt kettles, and paving and surfacing equipment no doubt will prepare you for a rewarding career with construction enterprises like building contractors, state highway agencies, rock quarries, well drillers, and construction firms.

12W Carpentry and Masonry Specialist

Concrete is cool, but stone, steel, and wood are all fun to work with, too. The 12W is an Engineer category MOS that prepares you for a civilian career in commercial and residential construction as a mason, carpenter, concrete finisher, drywall installer, ceiling tile installer, and more. That’s because training and duties involve general heavy carpentry, structural steel, and masonry duties, including the fabrication, erection, maintenance, and repair of rigging devices, trusses, and other structural assemblies.

Well, that’s it. That’s all the “What? That’s an Engineer MOS?” job titles we have for this week. If you’d like to learn more about one of these valuable, skill-packed careers, visit the Army National Guard jobs board and contact a recruiter today.

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STEM in the Guard: A Focus on Engineering

This summer, during the first week of every month, we’re taking a closer look at Army National Guard careers in each of the four STEM disciplines: science, technology, engineering, and math. Why? Because these jobs are in demand, both in the Guard and in the civilian workforce. Candidates with expertise in these fields are needed right now and well into the foreseeable future. In fact, the U.S. Department of Commerce predicts that STEM opportunities will increase by 17 percent over the next three years.

Next up, Part 3 … engineering.

STEM_engineeringDo you like taking things apart and putting them back together, just to see how they work? Are you fascinated by electricity and wiring? Would you love to run a construction site with bulldozers, cranes, and other heavy equipment?

If so, an engineering career may be a smart choice for your future. Starting down one of the many engineering career paths by pursuing one of the Guard’s many engineering military occupational specialties (MOS) is also a smart choice, for three important reasons:

  • The skills you learn in the Guard will give you a head start on qualifying for civilian positions in civil, electrical, electronics, computer, mechanical, industrial, nuclear operations, environmental, transportation, construction, or structural engineering.
  • As with most Guard careers, your service is part-time, so you can earn a degree and/or work in that civilian engineering job at the same time.
  • Finally, the Guard offers money for college and other great benefits like healthcare and life insturance.

Just as important, the National Guard’s engineering forces are charged with vital missions. At home, they improve the safety of civilians, like when they are called upon to rebuild after a natural disaster. In times of combat, they support the troops, like when they are called upon to design defensive positions, erect bridges, fix avionics, or set up mobile computer networks in the field.

The following are just a few of the Guard’s engineering military occupational specialties. Click the links to view nationwide job openings and read a more detailed description for each MOS.

12B Combat Engineer – Provides engineering support to troops by designing and building roadways and bridges; securing perimeters and tactical firing systems; and detecting and safely neutralizing mines and other dangers

12N Horizontal Construction Engineer – Uses and supervises the use of heavy equipment to dig, clear, and level earth for paving and other construction projects

12R Interior Electrician – Installs and wires electrical hardware – like transformers, junction boxes, service panels, electrical boxes, switches, and circuit breakers – found in offices, repair shops, airplane hangars, and other buildings

12T Technical Engineering Specialist – Supervises construction site development and directs technical investigations, like surveying, drafting, quality control inspections, and the development of construction plans/specifications

12W Carpentry and Masonry Specialist – Performs heavy carpentry, structural steel, and masonry duties, like fabricating, constructing, repairing, and maintaining all framing and rigging devices, trusses, and other structural assemblies

If you aren’t sure which of these career paths is best for you, don’t worry. One way to narrow it all down is to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. All Guard applicants take the ASVAB to help align their strengths with the military occupational specialties that best capitalize on those skills.

To learn more about STEM careers in the National Guard, check out our STEM Career Guide, visit our jobs board, and contact a recruiter today.

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