What Does a Soldier Do?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

A soldier is a member of a military organization, generally tasked with aiding military defense. Within an army, a soldier may have dozens of different jobs, each of which require specialized training and aptitude. Some of the many jobs a soldier might train for include combat positions, engineering, medicine, and intelligence careers.

Soldiers who fight in the infantry use small arms, including rifles, to capture and hold objectives on the ground.
Soldiers who fight in the infantry use small arms, including rifles, to capture and hold objectives on the ground.

Combat positions are what most people think of when they imagine the life of a soldier. While most soldiers are trained for combat, many go on to join other careers that focus on different skills. Combat-based soldiers train in a variety of weapon, hand-to-hand, and defensive tactics, and may be deployed all over the world, on both combat and peacekeeping missions. Many combat soldiers are called infantrymen, and serve as the primary ground force in a mission. An infantryman must be in excellent physical shape and enjoy working as part of a team.

Qualified doctors may be able to qualify for army careers.
Qualified doctors may be able to qualify for army careers.

Soldiers with construction or mechanical skills may choose to become army engineers. These professionals help build and maintain equipment and facilities for military use. Combat engineers are often deployed to help set up outposts, hospitals, bridges, and other facilities during a mission. Geospatial engineers help create maps and models of terrain, to assist in tactical planning. Soldiers can even become carpenters, plumbers, and electricians for the army.

Military personnel may serve in medical support roles.
Military personnel may serve in medical support roles.

A soldier with a desire to help others may be able to train for a medical or emergency care position. Qualified doctors, dentists, and mental health professionals may be able to qualify for army careers. Army veterinarians help care for service animals, but also perform public outreach work with animals around the world. Army doctors and health care specialists can be sent into the field with combat troops, and need advanced training in emergency and field care. For some jobs in the medical field, a soldier will need previous civilian training in medicine, and may need a full medical degree.

Soldiers may deal with mental scars long after deployment is over.
Soldiers may deal with mental scars long after deployment is over.

Soldiers working in intelligence careers assist ground troop operations and help discover important information that can affect military operations. Soldiers with multiple language skills can become translators or interpreters, and may be sent to help ease operations all over the world. Cryptologists help find and break codes, which can provide valuable information about enemy movement and plans. Intelligence officers help gather and interpret information from foreign powers, through a wide variety of observation techniques. Through their work, intelligence soldiers can help protect troops on the ground and may be able to devise safer, more effective missions.

Soldiers have particular career specialties, such as service in the artillery.
Soldiers have particular career specialties, such as service in the artillery.
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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Discussion Comments


@allenJo - I knew an engineer at work who was on reserve duty with the coast guard. He had to work there a few days out of the month, or every quarter or something like that.

He got paid and what was even better is that he did work similar to what he did at his regular job, which was work with databases and stuff like that.

You can’t beat that; two jobs, two paychecks, all within 40 hours a week. The company of course let him take that time off.


I was almost recruited by the army when I was in high school. I say almost because I didn’t join, but boy was that recruiter aggressive. What made him excited about my prospects were my ASVAB scores.

There is an electronics portion on that test, and I aced it. The only reason I aced it was that electronics was a hobby of mine and so I understood basic electrical concepts, how to read schematic diagrams and even some basic formulas.

That didn’t mean I wanted to join the army. But I remember the recruiter gave me his pitch and told me that I didn’t have to be out on the battlefield; I could work in electronic communications or things like that.

That put a different perspective on things but I still wasn’t interested. I do have tremendous respect however for anyone who is in the military, whether in combat duty or doing office work.


@jcraig - Although the perception is that there are few jobs in the military that can be used in the civilian working world this is not at all the case.

Although some basic jobs in the military, like an infantry solider, do not seem to have a place for their skills in the civilian world, most jobs in the military can be utilized outside in the working world simply due to the specific specialties that go along with their job.

Pilots, engineers, mechanics, doctors, they all are things that not everyone can do and they are in demand in the civilian working world. The military is a great place to learn a trade and be provided a skill that can be used once one leaves the military. Also, being a veteran allows someone to receive great benefits as well as respect among people, especially when applying for a job.

I am not endorsing for people to up and join the military, but if someone is looking to go into a certain profession they may want to think about joining the military if it is a specific skill based job they are looking at. Having military experience at that particular job could greatly help them once they are discharged and go into the civilian working world.


@JimmyT - I have to to say that the jobs in the military are a lot like jobs in the working world. The jobs in the military and the pay scales that represent them correspond with the demand for that particular skill. This is why a regular infantry soldier does not make anywhere near as much as a surgeon or a pilot. This is the simple concept of supply and demand in regards to jobs and this is prevalent in the military, just as it is in the working world.

That being said the military is also different in that soldiers do specific things that most people would never do in their regular lives. Most people will never have to learn to be an infantry soldier and this is something they cannot take with them once they leave the military. However, people that have a very specific job in the military, like as a doctor or pilot, they can take this with them and utilize what they were taught and become civilian workers in this particular trade.


@Izzy78 - You are absolutely correct. Soldiers in the military are trained to do specific tasks and they learn these trades and are categorized into what their jobs will be in basic training.

Due to the variety of jobs in the military the pay scales correspond with all these jobs and some jobs require more of a speciality, which results in more demand for that person and higher pay.

Most jobs that would fit into the category of higher pay and more demand would be surgeons and pilots, simply because training is hard and not everyone can do what they do, so they are naturally in higher demand.


Quite a broad topic. A soldier can simply be any member of a branch of military that has a specific job or task or job to do.

Jobs in the military are all about specializations. Not every soldier has the same specialization or has the same job and it all comes down to what type of training they have and what they were taught to do in basic training.

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