Your Career After West Point

The Long Gray Line

Joining “The Long Gray Line” of West Point graduates is a mark of distinction, representing high achievement and the promise of outstanding, ethical leadership.
Upon graduation, you will be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army.  You must serve a minimum of eight years after you graduate in a combination of Active Duty and Reserve Component Service.  During your senior year, you’ll find out which specialized field, or “branch,” you will enter. Both the needs of the Army and your preferences will be considered.

Graduation. What’s Next?

After graduation, you’ll attend a Basic Officer Leader Course where you'll study general Army operations, planning, and training. Then, you'll study branch-specific material to become competent in the technical aspects of your occupational specialty.

Join Your Unit

Next, you’ll be sent to an Army unit where you will build experience in your occupational specialty for the next three years. You might lead a helicopter aviation platoon, a vertical engineering unit, or a cyber operations team, for example.

The Army has a wide variety of specialized occupational fields called “branches.” Each branch has its own area of technical and tactical expertise. Depending on the needs of the Army and your personal desires, you will pick from the branches below.

Advance In Your Career

In year five, you have a decision to make. You can move ahead in your Army career by getting more advanced education and training. If so, you will prepare for higher levels of responsibility, leadership, and specialization required as commanders. Eventually, you may even go on to earn a graduate degree from a leading civilian university.

The Army pays for all of your training, travel, and advanced education. You could eventually work in the Pentagon, command a large troop unit, or serve as a military attaché in a foreign country.

The other option is choose to complete your commitment and return to civilian life.

Check out West Pointers-The Journey Continues to learn more about graduates currently working in their branches.

Army or Civilian Career?

West Point graduates are highly sought after. Those choosing a civilian career have attained great success in different professions—as doctors, CEOs of major companies, and engineers – the possibilities are endless.

Graduates who pursue an Army career do so because they feel the commitment and satisfaction of serving their country. The Army family takes care of its own during active duty and upon retirement –– after the first 60 days in service, all active duty members are enrolled in the Thrift Savings Plan which is much like a civilian 401(k) retirement account and they receive an automatic 1% of base pay, contributed by the Army. After 2 years of service, the military will match up to 5% base pay contributions. Additionally, active duty members who complete 20 years of service will earn 40% of their final base pay, up to 60% for 30 years of service, and reduced medical care for life, plus many other benefits.