Skip to main content

Opportunities in the Military Reserves

You can jump-start your career by joining the reserves.

The reserves present an opportunity for all kinds of people, regardless of age, race, background or sex. The skills you learn can be carried over into everything you do. You'll learn things like leadership and time management skills. Plus, you'll become self-disciplined, both mentally and physically.

There are many reasons for joining the reserves, says Bob Miller. He is a volunteer with a reservist group. "It's an opportunity for part-time employment and an opportunity to learn interesting and challenging skills."

The reserves were established to support the full-time forces. That is still their role today, and it is a very important one.

But joining the reserves does not mean you're committing yourself to a career in the military. In fact, becoming a reservist requires only a part-time commitment, although most reservists will say it's a full-time passion.

The reserves have a long history. In the U.S., they can be traced back to the 1600s.

While the specific roles of reservists have changed since then, the reserves' long history proves that there has always been a need for reservists. And according to the experts, this need won't be lost anytime soon.

Jayson Spiegel is the executive director for the Reserve Officers Association. He says there is always a need for reservists. And with recent security concerns, the demand has become even higher.

"We are always looking for more people," says Cameron White. He is a recruiting officer for a brigade group.

And, he says, more people are considering the reserves because of the many opportunities it offers. "The reserves are good for kids coming out of school," says White. "It gives you lots of confidence and it's a good place to start your life."

Subsidized education is available to reservists. Considering that, and the amount of money you make throughout the year, White says there's often no need for student loans.

Keith Lebling is the director of communications for the Reserve Officers Association. "In the U.S., reservists are generally paid by the drill, which applies when they have 'duty' or 'drill' weekends. Usually, reservists receive credit for four drills over the course of the weekend, and they receive one day's pay for each drill," he says.

"One day's pay is calculated as 1/30th of the monthly base pay, which can range from about $1,000 per month for a junior person to more than $4,000 per month for a senior enlisted person."

Reservists must generally commit to one weekend a month and two weeks a year. And depending upon the particular reserve you join, you will have to commit to at least two years of service.

John Summers is a reservist with the U.S. Coast Guard. He has been in the reserves for seven years. In his civilian life, he works as a logistics and transportation administrator for Toyota. But when he's working in the coast guard, he's on a patrol boat along the coasts of Florida.

Summers says his experience in the reserves has helped his professional career. His managers at Toyota look favorably upon his reserve experience.

"People in the reserves tend to be good performers at work," says Summers. He adds that the reserves also tend to be like a second family for most people. Reservists, he says, can count on each other both personally and professionally.

"There are several other benefits to joining the reserves," adds Capt. Bonnie Golbeck. She is a public affairs officer with a brigade group.

"You have a chance to serve your country. You have a chance to challenge yourself physically and mentally. You develop leadership skills at an early age, and you learn personal self-discipline, like time management skills.

"Any employer would like these skills," she adds. And this is one more reason why the reserves offer so many opportunities -- both within the unit and in the civilian world.

A few disadvantages do exist, but these will depend on the individual. All reservists can be called up to serve on active duty during a war or extreme security circumstances. "It does happen. There's the same risk as what active duty soldiers face," says Spiegel.

Recently, for example, thousands of reservists have been called up to fill in for those on active duty. Some reservists from the National Guard have been called up to offer extra security in airports. And some reservists have special jobs that no one else is trained to do, like port security.

When reservists are called up, they must leave their current jobs. But in the U.S., a reservist's job is guaranteed for five years.

For the most part, working in the reserves offers people a great deal of opportunities and many benefits. There is always a chance to move up the ranks. And if reservists choose, they can also volunteer for peacekeeping missions around the world.

The reserves offer a good part-time career. And the skills you learn can be used in reserve units across the country, as well as in civilian life. Joining is easy. People interested in joining can contact their local recruiting office, or find all the information on the Internet.

Best of all, perhaps, is that "there is always a need for reservists," says Summers. And there will always be plenty of opportunities to join.


Reserve Officers Association
This site provides information for all reservists of the seven U.S. uniformed services

Military Career Guide Online
There's lots of information here if you're considering a career in the U.S. military

U.S. Coast Guard Reserve
Find all the information you need to become a reservist with the coast guard

U.S. Army
The official site

Back to Career Cluster


  • Email Support

  • 1-800-GO-TO-XAP (1-800-468-6927)
    From outside the U.S., please call +1 (424) 750-3900


Powered by XAP

OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.