Thrill seekers love to jump out of planes for fun, so you can imagine how many soldiers are excited to earn their "jump wings" with formal training at Airborne School, also known as Jump School. In fact, Airborne School, where soldiers learn to parachute from an airplane, is often used as a recruiting tool for the U.S. Army. Many soldiers have Airborne School written into their initial enlistment or reenlistment contracts. No doubt the training is alluring, but can the skills you learn jumping from an airplane possibly help you in your career?
Of course, it couldn't hurt your military career to be airborne-qualified. We spoke with Maj. Robert Yerkey, Executive Officer for 1st Battalion (Airborne), 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 199th Infantry Brigade, who trains soldiers at Airborne School. Maj. Yerkey explains that the Army has a few units that require airborne training, such as the 82nd Airborne Division and the 173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade. Army Rangers and Special Forces must also be airborne-qualified.
But your post-military career is a different question. One might assume that being airborne-qualified could train you to be a forest firefighter, commonly known as a smokejumper, because they have to parachute into remote locations. However, we spoke with Josh Mathieson, operations captain at California's smokejumper base in Redding, who informed us that the Army's training isn't the same kind of training you'll receive when becoming a smokejumper. Although having the Army experience can help, the areas firefighters jump into and the aircraft they jump out of are so different that you'll have to learn a whole new technique. Mathieson tells us the Army's training could actually turn out to be a disadvantage for smokejumpers because they'll have to unlearn the habits ingrained in them at Airborne School.
The U.S. Army's Web site clearly states that the Airborne School has no related civilian jobs, so this particular training won't be applicable to a post-military career. However, it also adds that you'll grow in confidence, pride and leadership skills. Maj. Yerkey also pointed this out, saying that Jump School teaches soldiers to face their fears and stay calm in stressful situations. And that will be invaluable no matter what kind of post-military career you have.