Hospital corpsmen assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit transport simulated casualties in the well deck of the amphibious transport dock ship New Orleans. Advancements in the HM rating are lagging behind Navy averages. (MC2 Dominique Pineiro / Navy)
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The Navy expects overmanning to be an issue this year in the following ratings. If you fall on this list, the Navy's top community manager, Capt. Hank Roux, said to consider making a move. Not all of the following ratings cite specific year groups because Roux said these tend to fluctuate.
It's important to first speak with your community manager and command leadership.
The at-risk ratings, in alphabetical order:
• Air traffic controller: Shore billets will decrease by 106 in fiscal 2013 and by 130 billets Navy-wide. As a result, opportunity to convert out exists for sailors in year groups 2000 to 2010.
• Aviation electronics technician: Properly manned after last year's enlisted retention boards, officials are still offering convert-out opportunities for year groups 1999, 2000, 2006, 2008 and 2009.
• Aviation machinist's mate: Though undermanned overall, re-enlistment Zones B and C (between seven and 14 years of service) are overmanned and will stay overmanned into fiscal 2014. As a result, officials are offering convert-out opportunity, primarily in year groups 1999 and 2000.
• Cryptologic technician (networks): With Zone A overmanned at 112 percent and Zones B and C at the properly manned level, officials are taking convert-outs in year groups 2006 through 2010, as well as those in 1999, 2002 and 2004. But before you move, consider that those with the 9308 Navy enlisted classification — Navy interactive ON-NET operator — can get up to $75,000 to re-enlist.
• Cryptologic technician (collection): This rating is at 97 percent manned, and is projected to hit 100 percent for FY14. Conversions are allowed in overmanned year groups, two converts per group. Contact the community manager to see if you qualify.
• Gunner's mate: Overmanned at 110 percent against FY14 manning in re-enlistment Zone C, or those with 10 to 14 years of service.
• Engineman: This rating will see potentially 2,600 billets redesignated as machinist's mate in an expected rating realignment. Those with diesel main propulsion will remain EN with those with auxiliary experience while convert to MM.
• Hospital corpsman: The largest rating in the Navy, HM is lagging behind all Navy advancement averages. Further, overall manning needs are slated to decline over the next two years.
The largest group of HMs fall under the E-1 through E-4 levels because of the large requirement to provide medical personnel to the Marine Corps. This need will not go away. But general detail corpsmen in certain year groups at the E-5 and E-6 levels are encouraged to convert.
However, there is still demand for those E-5s and above who have achieved highly specialized Navy Enlisted Classifications. In some cases, these corpsmen could even earn bonus money.
For example, corpsmen in Force Recon and deep sea diving, as well as independent duty corpsmen on surface ships and submarines, can get up to $60,000 to re-enlist. Psychiatry and respiratory technicians can get up to $30,000.
• Operations specialist: Though manned at proper levels, and experiencing good advancement above Navy-wide averages, opportunities are shrinking. The OS rating should be overmanned by FY14 in re-enlistment Zones B and C.
Sailors wanting to stay ahead of the curve might want to convert out of the rating today, or acquire one of four critical NECs that could net them a re-up bonus worth up to $45,000. Sailors with these NECs could also extend-on or head back to sea duty where those critical skills also net Sea Duty Incentive Pay.
• Master-at-arms: This rating is properly manned overall, and that's not expected to change in the next year. But there's overmanning in re-enlistment Zones C and D, or sailors with 10-18 years of service. Sailors should contact the community manager for their specific year group outlook.
And one special mention:
While not in the top 10, sailors in the Seabee community should also investigate their options, Roux said.
Uncertainty remains in the Seabees' postwar manning levels.
"I don't think it's been settled one way or the other — the exact mix is not known yet — so they're looking at a bit of uncertainty through fiscal year 2015," Roux said. "It could be less active-duty battalions and more reserve, or the other way around, though right now it's showing they'll lose two battalions from the active force."
Traditionally, Seabees have been the most reluctant to convert into other ratings, Roux said.
"The challenge is always getting Seabees to consider converting out, because they usually become Seabees for very specific reasons, and we have found historically Seabees do not want to convert out," he said. "Part of it is Seabees do most of their work on land and when they convert, we're asking them to go back to sea."
But from a skill standpoint, Roux said, if they want to stay in the Navy, there are fleet ratings that could be good fits for their existing skills.
If you look at what the Navy needs, there are four rates where a Seabee could find a home, he said. Those are: electrician's mate, damage controlman, machinery repairman and hull maintenance technician.