The words “military” and “accounting” only seem to occur together in political discussions. However, these words also denote an entire field within the military that is both challenging and rewarding. Some students are choosing to pursue careers as navy accountants, as active-duty servicemembers, in part-time Reserves positions, or as veterans. How can a navy accountant maximize his or her career?
An Important Job
As reported by the Houston Chronicle, the U.S. Navy offers finance and accounting jobs for active-duty servicemembers. Part-time Reserves positions are available for those not wishing to engage in active-duty service.
Navy accountants fall into the Business Management or “Ship’s Servicemen” category of navy careers and jobs. Their work includes processing payroll, reimbursing servicemembers for travel expenses, conducting sales transactions while on board ships, and maintaining a ship’s inventory levels and records.
The positions require no previous experience, but candidates must meet certain standards to qualify. A combined score of at least 96 on the arithmetic reasoning and vocabulary portions of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test is required to qualify for “ship’s serviceman” positions, which are open to both men and women.
Fortunately, you do not have to have special training to become a navy accountant, as the military provides all of the necessary training. Aside from the aforementioned ASVAB score, there are no other special requirements for navy accountants — they are subject to the same requirements as anyone joining the navy. However, as Emily Philippe of InMilitary points out, “you will need to get additional training if you want to move up in the field of accounting with the military.” She outlines three common paths to doing so: “Attend the numerous training opportunities available in the military,” “Pursue a degree through an accredited university,” or “Seek certifications through various professional organizations.”
Philippe recommends that those pursuing accounting jobs in the military should also pursue education outside of the military. As she puts it, “When you separate or retire from the military, it is sometimes difficult to translate your military experience and training into civilian-speak, and this can limit your options. However, if you obtain a degree from an accredited university, you can boost your career opportunities.” A university degree supplements navy accountant training and shows civilian employers that you can handle the rigor of both the military and academics.
Another option for career advancement is available through the Navy’s Financial Management Career Program (FMCP), which recruits individuals at the entry and middle levels and trains them for positions in federal financial management with the Navy and Marine Corps through its Trainee Program or Associate Program. The 28-month Trainee Program combines academic and on-the-job training in areas such as fiscal law, ethics, budgeting and audit readiness. Program graduates are considered for permanent placement where they have been training. The Associate Program is a mid-level career development program.
Many navy accountants opt to pursue advanced degrees outside of the military, whether on active duty or as veterans. Options for active-duty personnel include online MBA programs that allow servicemembers to take courses toward an MBA while still performing their duties in the military. Some schools even offer additional financial support to military members. For example, the University of West Florida has a special military scholarship for its online general MBA. Active duty, veterans and family members are eligible for the scholarship. An MBA can boost graduates’ careers by advancing them into financial manager positions.
Better Pay, Better Benefits
Those who decide to pursue accounting jobs in the military can work their way to officer level by pursuing an MBA, and many decide to do just that. As the Houston Chronicle reports, the difference in pay is significant: “Monthly basic pay for an O-1, as of 2013, is approximately $2,876. [At the entry level] an E-1 earns $1,402 for the first four months, increasing to $1,516 for the fifth month.” This compensation is in addition to allowances for housing and subsistence, giving military families a significant boost in income.
Given that active-duty personnel can pursue an MBA online while still fulfilling their military duties, deciding to become a navy accountant is a sound financial move. University and military training supplement each other, working to maximize your earning potential in the military and afterward.
Learn more about the UWF online MBA in Accounting program.