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What is an Army MOS?

An Army MOS, or Military Occupational Specialty, is a code used to identify a specific job within the U.S. Army. Each MOS comes with its unique duties, training requirements, and career paths, shaping soldiers' expertise and roles. From combat positions to support roles, an MOS is pivotal in a soldier's military journey. What does your chosen MOS say about you?
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The United States Army uses a complex organizational system to categorize enlisted men and women by Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). An Army MOS is a specific job within the complex command structure of the United States Army, ranging from playing the trumpet for the Army band to rigging parachutes for the quartermaster corps. Commissioned officers in the Army are categorized under Areas of Concentration (AOC), rather than under the MOS system, although the two systems are very similar.

The Army breaks down Specialties by “career management field,” a reference to a large category such as “engineering” or “military intelligence.” Within each career management field, individual Military Occupational Specialties can be found. The entire system is accompanied with a set of codes, so someone with the Army MOS 98P, for example, is a multi-sensor operator in military intelligence. These alphanumeric codes are designed to be flexible as specialties are added and eliminated to reflect the changing nature of the military. MOS and AOC codes have also been streamlined so that similar codes are used for enlisted people and commissioned officers in the same field.

Because they are barred from some combat positions, women don't qualify for all Army MOS.
Because they are barred from some combat positions, women don't qualify for all Army MOS.

According to the Army, as of 2008, infantry, field artillery, air defense, aviation, special forces, armor, engineering, signals, military police corps, judge advocate special branch, military intelligence, army band, psychological operations, civil affairs, adjutant civil branch, finance, public affairs, chaplain branch, mechanical maintenance, medical, chemical warfare, recruiting and retention, transportation, ordnance branch, quartermaster corps, and electronic maintenance are all career management fields. Within each of these fields, people have a number of potential careers to pursue.

An Army MOS is a specific job, such as rigging parachutes.
An Army MOS is a specific job, such as rigging parachutes.

Jobs in the Army are quite diverse, with people typically picking or being placed into specialties for which they are best suited. In addition to soldiers, the military also needs doctors, accountants, supply managers, and so forth, and many of these jobs offer training which can be used in the civilian world as well as in the military. People can also develop an Army MOS as a lifetime career, gaining military rank in the process.

A member of the U.S. Army may learn a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) that is followed throughout a military career.
A member of the U.S. Army may learn a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) that is followed throughout a military career.

There are some limitations in the Army MOS system. Women, for example, cannot serve in certain combat positions, and as a result, not every Army MOS is open to them. Other positions require people to be able-bodied, so someone who becomes disabled as a result of military service may be moved to a different Army MOS if he or she wishes to continue serving. All MOSs typically require an ability to relocate where needed. The Marine Corps also uses the MOS system, while the Air Force refers to “Air Force Specialty Codes,” and the Navy and Coast Guard use “Ratings.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Army MOS and how is it assigned?

Artillery is one career management field in the US Army.
Artillery is one career management field in the US Army.

An Army MOS, or Military Occupational Specialty, is a code used by the U.S. Army to identify a specific job within the service. Each soldier is assigned an MOS based on their skills, interests, and the needs of the Army. The process begins with the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test, which assesses a recruit's strengths and helps determine the most suitable MOS options for them.

How many MOSs are there in the U.S. Army?

The U.S. Army has over 150 different MOSs, each corresponding to a unique role that contributes to the overall mission of the Army. These roles range from medical and technical positions to combat and support jobs, ensuring a wide array of career paths for enlisted personnel and officers alike.

Can you change your MOS after enlisting in the Army?

Yes, it is possible to change your MOS after enlisting in the Army, although it is subject to certain conditions and availability. Soldiers may request a reclassification to a new MOS if they meet the qualifications and there is a need for the new specialty. However, the process can be competitive and often requires additional training or education.

What is the difference between an enlisted MOS and an officer's branch?

Enlisted MOSs are specific job codes assigned to non-commissioned officers and other enlisted personnel, detailing their particular skills and duties. In contrast, an officer's branch is a broader category that encompasses several MOSs. Officers focus more on leadership, planning, and management within their branch, overseeing soldiers in various MOSs related to their field.

How does an MOS impact a soldier's career progression in the Army?

An MOS is a critical factor in a soldier's career progression, as it determines the type of training they receive, the skills they develop, and the career opportunities available to them both within the military and in civilian life. Advanced MOS training and certifications can lead to promotions and increased responsibilities, while also providing valuable experience that is transferable to post-military careers.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a UnitedStatesNow researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a UnitedStatesNow researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

anon127498

I'm doing my mos as a cook. i want to be an officer.

thebigbike

I am looking to identify an MOS number of "Primary and Shipping MOS 405" given during the last period of WWW for a member of the Army Air Transport Command in Fiji in 1946 following the MOS shown above in parens is (MCO 368)

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    • Because they are barred from some combat positions, women don't qualify for all Army MOS.
      By: Burlingham
      Because they are barred from some combat positions, women don't qualify for all Army MOS.
    • An Army MOS is a specific job, such as rigging parachutes.
      By: VanderWolf Images
      An Army MOS is a specific job, such as rigging parachutes.
    • A member of the U.S. Army may learn a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) that is followed throughout a military career.
      By: shiva
      A member of the U.S. Army may learn a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) that is followed throughout a military career.
    • Artillery is one career management field in the US Army.
      Artillery is one career management field in the US Army.