Overview of Navy Seabee Careers

Gaining experience as a Navy Seabee may be just the ticket if you have your eye on a career in the construction trades—if you don’t mind being ready to put down the power tools and pick up a rifle at a moment’s notice.

Naval Construction Battalions (CBs, thus the source of "Seabee") build forward naval bases as well as projects to support disaster and humanitarian relief. Born of the need for quickly building barracks and airfields during the island-hopping campaigns of World War II, Navy Seabees today are trained in one of seven construction and engineering trades, as well as basic infantry skills.

Requirements and Certifications

New enlistees need only a high school diploma and receive all of their trade schooling in the Navy in exchange for a five-year enlistment rather than the usual four. After “A” school, where basic job skills are taught, new Seabees undergo combat training alongside other ground-pounding sailors in a standardized expeditionary combat course.

All Seabee specialties may be eligible for Navy- or GI Bill-funded training for Homeland Security certifications and Certified Construction Manager credentials that can advance Navy and future civilian careers.

01
Builder

Bulldozer
GeoStock/Photodisc/Getty Images

Duties run the gamut carpentry, masonry, concrete, and steel to insulation, sheetrock, painting, and waterfront structures. Top-ranking builders (E-9, or master chief petty officers) merge career paths with steelworkers and engineering aids.

02
Engineering Aid

Photo taken by Mass Comm. Specialist 1st Class Ryan Wilber, USN; courtesy of US Navy.

Aids handle planning and quality control at construction sites, including surveys, drafts, schedules, and estimates of labor hours and building materials. At E-9, aids merge with builders and steelworkers.

  • Military requirements: Applicants must have received a C or above in high school or college trigonometry.
  • Education: “A” school lasts 15 weeks at Fort Leonard Wood MO.
  • Funded certifications: Construction Materials Testing, Highway Construction, Autodesk AutoCAD User Certification, Fiber Optics Installer and Technician, Commercial Building Inspector, and more.

03
Steelworker

Photo taken by Staff Sgt Jeremy Crisp, USA; courtesy of ISAF Afghanistan.

Steelworkers work on anything metal, including beams, scaffolds, and superstructures. They also “control job site deployment of materials and equipment, [and] direct and coordinate” steel construction, according to the Navy Enlisted Occupational Standards (NEOS) Manual. At E-9, this field merges with builders and engineering Aids.

  • Education: "A” school lasts nearly three months at NCBC Gulfport MS.

  • Funded certifications: Certified Welder and Welding Inspector, Building Plans Examiner, Commercial Building Inspector, and more.

04
Construction Electrician

Photo taken by Staff Sgt Courtney Richardson, USAF; courtesy of US Navy.

Electricians handle indoor and outdoor wiring, circuit troubleshooting, pole climbing, generator maintenance, and other construction and combat duties. At E-9, the trade merges with utilitiesman.

  • Military requirements: The CE rating requires a combined score of 200 on the Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, Electronics Info, and General Science sections of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). Normal color vision also is required.
  • Education: “A” School lasts about three months at Sheppard Air Force Base (AFB) TX.
  • Funded certifications: Fiber Optics Installer and Technician, Certified Commercial Electrical Inspector, and more.

05
Utilitiesman

Photo taken by Mass Comm. Specialist 1st Class Jeffery Tilghman Williams, USN; courtesy of US Navy.

These Seabees work on all of the necessities that separate a shanty from a shore facility: “plumbing, heating, steam, compressed air, fuel storage and distribution systems, water treatment and distribution systems, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, [and] septic system[s],” according to the NEOCS Manual. E-9 ratings combine this job with construction electrician.

  • Military requirements: Achieve at least a 200 combined score in the Arithmetic Reasoning, Mechanical Knowledge, Electronics Information, and General Science sections of the ASVAB.
  • Education: “A” school lasts three months at Sheppard AFB TX.
  • Funded certifications: Underground Utility Construction, Fiber Optics Installer and Technician, Certified Mechanical Plans Examiner, and more.

06
Construction Mechanic

Photo taken by Mass Comm. Specialist 1st Class Russell Stewart, USN; courtesy of US Navy.

According to the NEOCS Manual, construction mechanics work on the “maintenance, repair, and overhaul” of the trucks, lifters, and other construction equipment on job sites, including engine maintenance, hydraulic systems, and chassis. At E-9, they come together with the equipment operator field.

  • Military requirements: ASVAB scores for Arithmetic Reasoning, Mechanical Comprehension, and Auto and Shop must total 158 to qualify.
  • Education: "A" school lasts two to three months at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) Port Hueneme CA.
  • Funded certifications: National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (multiple vehicle types), Registered Hazardous Substance Professional, and more.

07
Equipment Operator

Photo taken by Senior Airman Gino Reyes, USAF; courtesy of US Navy.

When the construction mechanics are done fixing it, the operators get behind the controls. These Seabees literally move the earth—and anything else that needs to come along or get out of the way. At E-9, operators and mechanics combine.

  • Military requirements: Combined Arithmetic Reasoning, Mechanical Comprehension, and Auto & Shop score on the ASVAB must be higher than 140. Normal color vision is a must. Candidates also must possess a regular driver’s license with no history of intoxicated driving or major accidents in the past year before applying.
  • Education: “A” school lasts three months at Fort Leonard Wood MO.
  • Funded certifications: Mobile Crane Operator and more.