Navy Counselors serve as the Navy’s deck plate representatives for its Sailors and their careers. Their duty is to inform and guide Sailors along their path to achieve their career goals by capitalizing on their tested and proven knowledge of all Navy programs from top to bottom.
Navy Counselors are often considered the Navy’s equivalent to the human resources specialist, similar to a school’s college counselor, or career coach. They are the go-to resource for Sailors when they have questions about their career, and professional or personal development opportunities.
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Their responsibilities are vast and span across nine Navy programs: retention, advancement, education, family services, indoctrination, career development, financial preparedness, deployability, and transition assistance.
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Who Can Be a Navy Counselor?
Not just anyone can be a Navy Counselor. Because of the unique level of responsibility and trust given to you by the Navy to be a trusted source of information, there are several requirements that are necessary to be able to apply to become a Navy Counselor.
First things first, you cannot enlist in the Navy as a Navy Counselor. NCs are the chosen few throughout the fleet that have proven their knowledge on Navy programs. All Navy Counselors have had jobs in the Navy prior to becoming a rated NC. As an example, before I became a Navy Counselor, I was an Electronics Technician.
Requirements And Qualifications
The following are the minimum requirements for an Active Duty Sailor to apply to become a Navy Counselor:
- ASVAB VE and AR scores combined must be 105 or greater, with an individual AR score of at least 50
- Must be at the paygrade of E-5 or E-6
- Must have served at least six years in the Navy, and at least two years in their present rating
- Must be able to pass a Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) upon reporting to their respective Navy Counselor schoolhouse, with a minimum score of Good Low in all categories.
- Must submit a full body picture in Navy Physical Training Uniform (PTU) taken while standing at attention from the front, the side, and at a 45-degree angle.
- Must have no Non-Judicial Punishment for the past 36 months
- The Sailor must have an endorsement from an active Navy Counselor
- Meet the Navy PRT Test standards
Because of the strict restrictions to become a Navy Counselor, there are luckily only a few qualifications required:
- Must have strong communication skills
- Must have completed the Command Development Team training course prior to application to the program
- Must complete the Navy Career Counseling training course at the Navy Counselor schoolhouse after receiving program approval.
Navy Counselor School
Once you have been approved to become a Navy Counselor, you will receive orders to the Navy Career schoolhouse in either Norfolk, Virginia or San Diego, California. At the Navy Counselor schoolhouse, you will attend the intensive two-week Navy Career Counseling training course.
The first day of class, before ever stepping foot in a classroom or meeting a course instructor, all students will complete a Physical Fitness Assessment to ensure they meet the physical fitness requirements for the program. If a student does not meet the minimum requirements for the program, they will be processed back to the fleet to continue service in their present rating.
During the training course, potential Navy Counselors will learn about:
- Career opportunities available to Sailors, and the requirements they must meet to be eligible for those programs
- Educational opportunities, such as Tuition Assistance and the GI Bill
- Good communication skills
- Writing reports and editing documents
- Performing one on one counseling
- Giving a clear and concise professional briefing
- Utilizing emotional intelligence to provide the best possible service to Sailors
Once the course is completed, as a new Navy Counselor, you will participate in a ceremony where you will repeat the NC Creed and are subsequently awarded your Navy Counselor badge, to be worn on your uniform from that day forward to signify you as one of the Navy’s Career Counselors.
What Happens After School?
As a new Navy Counselor, you will be required to serve your first tour as an NC either onboard a ship, or as part of a squadron. Upon graduation of the Navy Career Counseling training course, counselors will be given their follow-on orders to their new command, which in most cases will be a ship.
In most cases, there will be only one Navy Counselor at a command, but at some very large commands, there may be up to three. The counselor will report directly to the Command Master Chief, the highest-ranking enlisted Sailor at the command and advisor to the Commanding Officer, which means that as a Navy Counselor you must be able to work independently and with very little supervision.
An NC’s day is spent talking to Sailors and helping them identify their goals, whether that is to become a Navy SEAL, commission as a Naval Officer, apply for White House duty, or even separate from Naval service, you will help guide them in the direction in which they need to be focused.
A major part of what Navy Counselors do is preparing Sailor reenlistment and retirement ceremonies. You will be there through the entire process, from requesting permission from the Navy to reenlist, all the way up to the day the Sailor takes the Oath of Enlistment. As a Navy Counselor you are the point of contact throughout the entire process.
Although the majority of your time is spent counseling Sailors, you will also be giving briefs to Captains and Admirals, as well as training Naval Officers on Navy programs, so that they can better serve the enlisted Sailors under their leadership.
PRO TIP: Although your work will consist of a lot of office related activities, a good Navy Counselor will often be out and about, talking to Sailors and really putting their face out there. By being sociable and recognizable, Sailors will be more willing to come to you with their questions!
Pay and Compensation
Just like everyone else in the military, your pay is going to be based on a combination of your rank and time in service.
Since you have to be at least an E-5 with six years in the Navy to be a Navy Counselor, you can guarantee a higher starting salary minimum salary.
Although there are no bonuses or extra pay specifically for Navy Counselors, what is extremely unique to the NC rating, is there is 100% advancement selection to E-6. So even if you are an E-5 going in to the Navy Counselor application process, you will be guaranteed advancement to the next paygrade, which of course means more money!
As a Navy Counselor your annual salary can be anywhere from $36,018 as an E-5 with six years of service, to $89,698 as an E-9 with 30 years of service. This does not include Basic Allowance for Housing, Basic Allowance for Sustenance, Sea Pay, Flight Pay, or any other type extra pay available to Navy Counselors.
Check out our BAH calculator here.
The skills learned as a Navy Counselor can be translated to almost any discipline. Written and oral communication skills, the ability to work with a diverse group of people, and the capability to be a self-starter and meet deadlines are key soft skills for just about any job, in any industry.
Most commonly, Navy Counselors positions transition into civilian jobs such as:
- Career Coach
- Admissions Advisor
- Human Resource Specialists
- And of course, counselors of just about any kind
Something unique to the Navy, is the Navy Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL) program. Through Navy COOL, a Navy counselor can earn their certification as a civilian counselor before they ever separate from the military, giving them a leg-up when entering into the civilian workforce.
What’s Life Like as a Navy Counselor?
As a Navy Counselor, I love my job. I have been able to take my passion for helping people and put that to work in a job that allows me to go above and beyond for my Sailors. I have Sailors come into my office every day to ask for advice and guidance on what they can do, and should do, for their career.
One thing I love about my job is that I never get bored. I have had the privilege to serve as a counselor to 839 Sailors, and every one of them has been different. I have helped an Air Traffic Controller become a Builder, a first generation American become a Naval Officer, and an Electronics Technician become a lawyer in the Navy Judge Advocate General Corps.
Of course, it is not always sunshine and rainbows. There are times when you have to inform Sailors they are going home, or that the Navy has denied their request to continue serving. Not everyone always is selected for the programs they have worked hard for, simply because there just aren’t enough spots.
But for everyone time I have has to deliver bad news, there has been 20 other times I have had the opportunity to deliver good news. As a Navy Counselor, I have the opportunity to bring people happiness, and help them achieve goals they may have never considered possible.
If you are considering making the Navy a career, and you enjoy helping people, becoming a Navy Counselor may be the job for you!