When you think of joining the armed forces, perhaps you imagine working on the frontline in another country, driving an armored vehicle or engaging in combat. But there’s more to working in the armed forces than just the traditional infantry roles. In fact, the army, navy, and air force have large medical divisions which could dwarf the size of any hospital.
Medical jobs in the armed forces are among the most vital roles. Whether you’re working in the emergency room, providing mental health care or managing army medical supplies, you’re playing a crucial part in keeping US forces safe from harm while they serve their country.
Perhaps you’re a civilian doctor who wants to push their boundaries in a high-pressure environment. Maybe you have no medical training, but want to be part of one of the world’s most prestigious military organizations.
Whatever your career ambitions are, this article will tell you everything you need to know about medical jobs in the US armed forces. We’ll examine some of the best army medical jobs and the educational requirements so that you can make an informed decision about your future career.
The ASVAB Test
Before we look at the different medical positions, we need to establish what the ASVAB is. The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery is a multiple-choice test which helps identify which army jobs you’d be best suited to.
The ASVAB consists of ten short tests which provide ten composite scores in different areas. These include Combat, Clerical, General Maintenance, Skilled Technical and Electronics. You’ll be given a score in each area when you complete the test, which should take around three hours.
The good news is you can’t ‘fail’ the ASVAB. But you will need to get a score higher than 31 to be considered for any role in the armed forces. Once you have your final score, you’ll be able to see which jobs you’ll qualify for.
In this guide, we’ll provide the ASVAB scores required for each role, so you can see if your results match up with the desired job.
Combat Medical Technician
The role of Combat Medical Technician is precisely the type of function you imagine when you picture working as a medic in the army. The ‘Combat Medic’ must accompany infantry on patrols and missions, awaiting the call of ‘Medic!’ from a fellow soldier in distress. They must then find the injured soldier and provide preliminary treatment, bandaging wounds or administering medication. A medical evacuation then transports the wounded soldier to the nearest field hospital.
Of course, Combat Medical Technicians aren’t just useful out in the field. Accidents, injuries, and illnesses can occur anywhere on bases, and having a healthcare specialist on hand is vital. This role is suited to someone who can think on their feet and react quickly to danger or emergency situations. They must have the ability to stay calm under pressure, as well as providing reassurance to panicked or scared patients.
The training to become a Combat Medical Technician involves ten weeks of Basic Combat Training and 16 weeks of Advanced Individual Training. Everyone in the armed forces goes through the combat training. The individual training courses are intended to help each soldier find their specialist role.
Health care specialists and Combat Medical Technicians can also specialize in a multitude of areas. They can perform additional training in dialysis, orthopedics, optometry, immunization, physical therapy, trauma and cardiovascular medicine, among others.
The ASVAB score required to start your Combat Medical Technician training are 101 in Skilled Technical, and 107 in General Technical. If you got scores higher than this on your ASVAB test, you could start training for this role today.
Emergency Medical Physician
An emergency medical physician is the military equivalent of a doctor who works in the emergency room at a hospital. As you can imagine, emergency situations arise almost daily when you’re out in the field. Emergency medical physicians have very demanding roles, administering potentially life-saving treatment to colleagues.
As an emergency medical physician, you will be responsible for diagnosing and treating patients in the first phase of disease or injury. You might also be in charge of other medical units and must give commands to ensure they’re able to provide the assistance needed. When they’re not delivering emergency care, emergency medical physicals usually perform additional medical research and provide health support for all soldiers.
To apply for one of these roles, you need to be a Doctor of medicine, with a degree from an accredited school in the US. You’ll then need to complete a training program in emergency medicine. This will be specific to the armed forces and will provide training in the operational and tactical skills required to succeed in the military.
Because of the degree requirements for this role, there are no specific ASVAB criteria. You will, however, need to have the ability to make accurate decisions quickly, as well as having excellent focus and critical thinking skills.
Medical Laboratory Specialist
We all know how vital laboratories and test results are in diagnosing illness. Having a well-functioning laboratory is especially crucial in the field when tests and results are needed fast. Medical Laboratory Specialists in the military are responsible for conducting tests on the blood, body fluids and tissue of patients.
This is perhaps one of the less stressful army medical roles. It involves collecting blood specimens by venipuncture, as well as storing and transporting blood products for testing. You’ll also be tasked with maintaining the appropriate laboratory equipment.
As a laboratory specialist, you’ll need thorough training in blood banking and clinical procedures in subjects such as hematology and urinalysis. Having an existing phlebotomy qualification would be very beneficial for those applying for this role. Knowing the basics of venipuncture will provide an essential foundation for your training, which will also introduce subjects like clinical chemistry, parasitology, and immunohematology.
The ASVAB score required for this position is 106 in the Skilled Technical area. You must also complete the mandatory ten weeks of Basic Combat Training, plus one year of individual training. This will involve practice-testing specimens, as well as learning the ins and outs of military laboratory procedure.
Family Nurse Practitioner
Humanitarian missions are a crucial part of the work carried out by the US armed forces. These missions are often dispatched to some of the most deprived regions of the globe to offer support and assistance. Family nurse practitioners are some of the most critical medical staff on these missions.
A family nurse practitioner must be able to perform physical examinations, carry out diagnostic tests and develop the appropriate treatment or care plans for patients. You’ll be responsible for promoting health and wellness, as well as establishing ways to prevent disease and injury in the field.
To become a family nurse practitioner, you’ll need to have a Bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited school. You must also possess a valid, unrestricted nursing license, and have full US citizenship.
As you can imagine, these healthcare roles are critical in humanitarian missions. On a day-to-day basis, you may be caring for individuals caught up in a natural disaster, or communities suffering from famine, drought or disease outbreak. This position can be physically and emotionally taxing – but also incredibly rewarding.
A pharmacy specialist is responsible for preparing and issuing pharmaceutical products within the military. They act under the direct supervision of a qualified pharmacist and have a range of duties and responsibilities. As you can imagine, the amount of medicine distributed throughout the US armed forces is enormous. Pharmacy specialists are crucial in helping these prescriptions and drug management systems to run smoothly.
The ASVAB score required to apply for this role is 95 in the Skilled Technical section. To become a pharmacy specialist in the US army, navy or air force, you’ll need to undergo the ten weeks of mandatory Basic Combat Training first. Then, you’ll take 23 weeks of Advanced Training, which prepares you for life in a military pharmacy environment. This training will cover the laws and regulations of working in a pharmacy, as well as how to prepare, control and issue drugs.
You’ll also be responsible for verifying the dosage and regimen for each prescription. Patients will need your instruction on consumption and side-effects of each medication, and you’ll be tasked with carrying out quality control checks on all drugs and medications dispensed.
Pharmacy specialists have crucial roles to play, even if they’re not directly on the frontline in a combat scenario. This role would benefit someone with interest in medicine and chemistry, as well as the ability to follow stringent protocol. Accuracy and precision are also vital in this type of role.
Animal Care Specialist
Of course, soldiers and other military personnel aren’t the only ones who require medical care in the armed forces. Animal care specialists are vital in the armed forces, because of their work providing care for government-owned animals.
Military working dogs are the most obvious animals involved in the armed forces. But did you know that the US Navy Marine Mammal System employs dolphins and sea lions to help keep ports secure? Horses and mules can also be used for transport purposes, and the US army has even used honeybees for bomb detection purposes.
As an animal care specialist in the armed forces, you’ll be responsible for providing the highest level of care to these working animals. You’ll also be tasked with assisting qualified vets in surgical procedures, maintaining treatment facilities, and preventing the transmission of diseases from animal to man.
The perfect job for an animal lover, this role requires someone who can think on their feet. You must have compassion for all animals, as well as the medical abilities necessary to care for them in frontline environments.
To become an animal care specialist in any of the armed forces, you must complete the mandatory Basic Combat Training. This is required of anyone hoping to join the army, navy or air force. You’ll then be given 11 weeks of Advanced Individual Training, which will focus on animal care. You’ll learn patient care techniques, how to react to emergency scenarios, and how to use surgical equipment appropriately. A score of 91 in the Skilled Technical section of your ASVAB is required.
Operating Room Specialist
The operating room is one of the most stressful places to work, whether you’re in civilian or military hospital. The most serious procedures take place in this space, so most of the people involved need to be highly qualified surgeons. However, they are supported by operating room specialists. These are individuals responsible for preparing the patient and the room for essential surgeries.
An operating room specialist doesn’t need to be a trained surgeon or doctor. But they do need to have an understanding of emergency treatment, basic nursing care, minor surgical procedures and high attention to detail. As a specialist in the operating room, you’ll be responsible for assisting medical staff during procedures, as well as prepping the environment before surgery. You’ll be tasked with sterilizing all relevant equipment and performing pre-operative and post-operative procedures on the patient.
The training required to become an operating room specialist is extensive. You’ll complete the initial ten weeks of Basic Combat Training, and then your individual training will last for 19 weeks after. You’ll focus on learning about clinical laboratory procedures, basic anatomy and physiology, nursing care and disease diagnosis.
To be an operating room specialist, you must be able to work efficiently and calmly under pressure. Surgeries can be stressful – you need to be focused and able to remain collected. You’ll also need to have scored 91 in the Skilled Technical section of your ASVAB.
Mental Health Specialist
This entry-level position is perhaps one of the most important in the military. Working in a frontline environment can be incredibly stressful. A lot of military personnel will retire with forms of PTSD as a result of their experiences. As a mental health specialist, you’ll be helping with the provision of mental health activities and treatments, to ensure that all personnel will be emotionally and mentally sound.
This role involves the collection of psychosocial and physical data, as well as helping provide care and treatment to those with psychiatric issues. These can include drug and alcohol problems, as well as personal or behavioral problems. You’ll work under the supervision of a qualified psychiatrist or social worker to help manage and treat soldiers in inpatient and outpatient scenarios. You may also be responsible for screening potential patients.
Applicants must have scored 101 in your Skilled Technical ASVAB test to apply for this role. You must also enjoy caring for others, as well as have excellent communication skills. An interest in psychology and general science is helpful, and you must be able to work under very stressful conditions. If you tick all of these boxes, you could be a great asset to the armed forces.
What’s Your Perfect Medical Job in the Armed Forces?
As you can see, there is a multitude of fantastic jobs open to those who want to pursue a medical career in the armed forces. From working as a combat medical technician in the field to managing lab results or providing mental health treatment, there are so many options out there. And once you leave, it’ll be easier to find the best jobs for military veterans.
Some of these roles will require some extensive training – many will demand that you already have a degree and a certification. However, there are lots of army medical jobs that are classed as entry-level positions. These don’t require external qualifications – the armed forces can provide all the training you need. All you must do is achieve the required score on the ASVAB, and show that you are a willing and able candidate.
Working in the armed forces can be both thrilling and stressful. Helping to save lives in such a high-pressure environment can be extremely rewarding. But there will be times when the stress of a scenario might get the better of you. These positions are best suited to those who thrive in dangerous or pressurized conditions, rather than those who would instead run from danger.
To find out more about medical jobs in the armed forces, speak to your local recruiter. If you’re unsure which position would be best for you, you should sit the ASVAB first. It will narrow down your options and help show you where your aptitude lies.
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