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The Navy’s added about 7,500 masters-at-arms since 9/11, and it’s been expanding its apprenticeship options for those sailors to keep pace.
The Center for Security forces, which oversees the MA rating, recently added a criminal investigator program, which allows sailors holding Navy enlisted classification 2002, military investigator, the chance to earn a certificate from the Labor Department.
It’s the ninth apprenticeship open to MAs — seven focus on law enforcement and security skills, while two document computer and administrative duties.
“We feel these programs are not only valuable to our sailors when seeing civilian programs, but in completing these apprenticeships, they also become better sailors on the job, as well,” said Jose Bautista, the lead on credentialing programs at the center.
MA is the third-largest enlisted rating in the Navy. With an active-duty force of nearly 9,000 sailors — up from 1,400 in 2001 — it’s eclipsed only by hospital corpsmen and information system technicians.
Non-MAs may be eligible
MA-centric programs for corrections officer and armory technician certificates are open to sailors in other ratings working in these skills.
For example, sailors on shore duty as guards in Navy brigs or those on detainee duty in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could qualify to snag the civilian certificate.
And while that piece of paper may not make it a cinch for a sailor to land a civilian job, as is the case with some more technical certifications, it will open a few doors in the civilian law enforcement sector, said Thomas Phillips, who coordinates the Navy’s civilian apprenticeships under the United Services Military Apprenticeship Program.
“It documents their skills and time on the job, which certainly will give them a leg up when applying for a job,” he said.
Bautista said he’s seen seen many senior enlisted sailors walk out of the Navy with these security-related apprenticeships on their résumés and get picked up quickly in government and private-sector jobs.
In addition, the center created an armory technician job that’s also open to the aviation ordnanceman, fire controlman, gunner’s mate, machinist’s mate (weapons), mineman, special warfare boat operator and special operator ratings.
Sailors must be filling a billet that puts them in charge of an armory to qualify.
There is also a Master Homeland Security Specialist program, open to MAs and SEALs in paygrades E-7 and above, including limited duty and chief warrant officers.
It’s also open to line officers in the anti-terrorism/force protection specialty career path, making it the only apprenticeship available to both officers and enlisted sailors.