Good help is hard to find these days, and many companies – large and small – are offering hiring bonuses to attract new employees. The United States Army is also offering such incentives and announced the largest bonus ever for new recruits this week. Up to $50,000 is available to qualified individuals who sign on for a six-year active-duty enlistment.

That is a significant boost; in the past, enlistment incentives for full-time soldiers could not exceed $40,000.

Rising Incentives to Attract Talent

Career-based incentives will continue to range from $1,000 up to $40,000 for select occupations the Army needs to fill right now or may find difficult to fill because of the specific qualifications required. Such positions range from some of the most well-known Army careers, including infantry and Special Forces, to lesser-known occupations that include radar repairers, signal support systems specialists and motor transport operators. The total incentive package for a new recruit will still be based on a combination of incentives offered for the selected career field, individual qualifications, length of the enlistment contract, and the ship date for training.

The Army has had to increase the incentives as it is now competing for the same talent as the other U.S. military services as well as the private sector. As a result, the Army must have the ability to generate interest in the current employment environment, said Maj. Gen. Kevin Vereen, who leads the U.S. Army Recruiting Command (USAREC) in its mission to fill full-time and part-time vacancies in about 150 different career fields in the Regular Army and the Army Reserve.

“This is an opportunity to entice folks to consider the Army,” explained Brig. Gen. John Cushing, who serves as the deputy commanding general for operations under Gen. Vereen at USAREC. “We’ve taken a look at the critical (military occupational specialties) we need to fill in order to maintain the training bases, and that is where we place a lot of our emphasis.”

Quick Ship Bonuses

In addition to the career-based bonuses, the Army is continuing to offer “quick ship” bonuses for those who are prepared to head to Basic Combat Training within 90 days. Those incentives range from $2,000 to $9,000 – and the sooner an individual is available to “ship,” the higher the dollar amount.

There are also other incentives for signing up for Airborne or Ranger schools. As the Army stated, “opting to jump from airplanes can get a recruit $10,000, while becoming Ranger qualified can bring up to $20,000.”

Those who speak a foreign language can also receive a bonus as part of the Army Civilian Acquired Skills Program, which offers incentives worth up to $40,000 for certain career paths where language skills are required.

The combination of these various incentives can provide a new recruit up to the $50,000 maximum.

“We want to promote the value in serving your country, but at the same time, we’re not oblivious to the compensation piece,” said Gen. Vereen, who added that there several other options that may make the Army more attractive in the current employment environment – including duty station of choice and even two-year enlistments.

“We know this generation likes to have the opportunity to make their own decisions, so now they can choose where they want to be assigned after training. We didn’t have that last year,” Vereen continued. “We also have opened two-year enlistments for 84 different career fields. Many people are apprehensive about long-term commitments right now, so we think having a shorter option will help give them some time to see if the Army fits their life and goals.”

Given the cost of college and other debt that Americans may face, the bonus could certainly be enticing.

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer who covers business technology and cyber security. He currently lives in Michigan and can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.