Personnel specialists (PS) serve the U.S. Navy's enlisted personnel in ways that are similar to those of career counselors and human resources professionals. They provide information and counseling related to rights, benefits, occupations, educational opportunities, job training, and requirements for promotion, according to the Navy's website.
PSs also determine, maintain, and audit military pay, travel entitlements and deductions, and personnel records. They prepare accounting reports related to individual pay and travel transactions and operate associated accounting systems. Additionally, PSs assist enlisted people and their families with special problems or personal hardships.
Work Environment and Responsibilities
PSs do mostly administrative work in an office setting. Depending on specific responsibilities, they might work alone with little supervision, or they might work closely with others under close supervision. Common job responsibilities, according to the Navy's job description, include:
- Maintaining and entering data into Enlisted Service Records
- Acquiring personnel for new commands, transferring personnel, preparing personnel for retirement or fleet reserve, and preparing all types of separations
- Issuing identification cards
- Counseling and interviewing personnel on various matters
- Administering, ordering, and processing advancement examinations
- Recommending personnel for assignments
- Writing official letters and reports
- Serving as agent cashiers to pay government funds
- Acting as collection agents of money owed to the U.S. Treasury by Navy personnel
- Maintaining and auditing ATMs onboard Naval ships
- Providing pay and entitlement information to personnel
Technical School and Testing Requirements
Navy recruits attend technical training after boot camp at what commonly are called "A" schools. For personnel specialists, the school is in Meridian, Mississippi, and consists of five weeks of training. Meridian has a student population of about 500 at any given time, according to the Navy's website, and about 5,000 Navy and Marines personnel graduate each year.
In addition to technical training, enlisted personnel in the Navy take the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. It consists of several subtests that are scored on a percentile basis. For example, a score of 50 means the person taking the test scored better than 50% of others taking the test.
The subtests that are important for personnel specialists are the sum of word knowledge and paragraph comprehension (VE), and mathematics knowledge (MK). A combined percentile score of 105 for those subtests is necessary to work as a PS.
No security clearance is required to work as a PS.
The Navy requires enlisted personnel to serve both sea and shore tours depending on their specific rating. For personnel specialists, the sea/shore rotation consists of:
- First Sea Tour: 48 months
- First Shore Tour: 36 months
- Second Sea Tour: 42 months
- Second Shore Tour: 36 months
- Third Sea Tour: 36 months
- Third Shore Tour: 36 months
- Fourth Sea Tour: 36 months
- Forth Shore Tour: 36 months
Sea tours and shore tours for sailors who have completed four sea tours will be 36 months at sea followed by 36 months ashore until retirement.
Personnel specialists are paid according to the military pay chart. Enlisted personnel have nine different pay categories, E-1 through E-9, with the "E" standing for "enlisted." Each category has different levels of pay dependent on years of experience.
PSs with less than four months of experience would be rated E-1 and earn $1,554 per month, as of 2019. As personnel gain years of experience and rise through the ranks, pay increases. The highest pay rate is $8,241.90 monthly for E-9 personnel with more than 40 years of experience.