Career Planning Steps

Military Steps to Planning Your Acquisition Career

The Army Acquisition Corps (AAC) consists of commissioned officers, noncommissioned officers and Department of the Army civilians. Commissioned officers in the AAC are designated as Functional Area (FA) 51 officers and can be assigned to five of the twelve Acquisition Career Fields while NCOs are managed through a specific Military Occupational Skill (MOS) 51C. Unique functions performed by the Army acquisition workforce are based in statute and cannot be performed by non-acquisition personnel. Applicable statute is contained in the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA), consisting of 10 United States Code (USC) Sections 1701-1764 and further referenced in the Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 5000 series. FA51 officers effectively and efficiently develop, acquire, field, test and evaluate and sustain materiel by leveraging domestic, organic, commercial and foreign technologies, and capabilities to meet the Army’s current and future mission requirements. Acquisition officers and NCOs are primarily responsible for the “M” domain in doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leader development, personnel and facilities (DOTML-PF).

Military Officers:

  • Army officers can receive training, experience and certification in five of the DoD Acquisition Career Fields (ACFs): Program Management (ACF A); Contracting (ACF C); Systems Planning, Research, Development and Engineering-Science and Technology Management (ACF S); Information Technology (ACF R); and Testing & Evaluation (ACF T). An officer is expected to develop functional expertise in a minimum of two ACFs and broaden their individual experience and knowledge through several different and unique assignments. Officers are not single-tracked into one of the above ACFs, but are expected and encouraged to seek experience in several through coordination with their assignment officer.

Noncommissioned Officers:

MOS 51C Reclassification Instructions:

The following will provide you with general information, points of contact, policies, procedures and terminology that are important to your Acquisition career development. While many of the steps will overlap, they are generally sequentially ordered.

  1. Contact your Acquisition Career Manager (ACM):Upon accession or reclassification into the Army Acquisition Corps, your first step should be to contact your ACM, an Assignments Officer from the Acquisition Management Branch (AMB) at HRC, who will be able to advise and assist you in planning your career development. NCOs will need to contact the MOS51C Assignment NCO; currently collocated with the QM Branch at EPMD.
  2. Attend FA/ MOS Training: Officers are generally expected to attend the Army Acquisition Basic Course (AABC), Army Acquisition Intermediate Contracting Course (AAICC) and Army Intermediate Contracting Lab (AICL) en route to their first acquisition assignment (USAR and ARNG officers may attend these courses (in lieu of DAU equivalent courses) as determined by their career manager). Newly trained Captains and Majors will be assigned to a position which is designed to develop their functional understanding of one of the five Acquisition Career Fields. The majority of these officers will either be placed in a contracting or program management assignment. NCOs will either attend AABC or the Mission Ready Airman Course (MRAC) en route to their first acquisition assignment; newly trained NCOs will be assigned to a contracting assignment. For NCOs, completion of AABC or MRAC is equivalent to BNCOC Phase II. After satisfactory completion of 2-3 years of work in a contracting office, the NCO is programmed to attend AAICC. Acquisition NCO’s must attend the 6 week resident Senior Leader’s Course at the Army Acquisition Center of Excellence to be considered an ANCOC graduate.
  3. Determine career objectives.The Army Acquisition Workforce (AAW) is made up of officers, NCOs and civilians who perform work throughout the life cycle of the system; i.e., “cradle to grave.” There are five military ACFs in the Acquisition Workforce for military personnel, as follows:
    • ACF A: Program Management
    • ACF C: Contracting and Industrial Management
    • ACF S: Systems Planning, Research, Development and Engineering-Science and Technology Management (SPRDE-STM)
    • ACF R: Information and Technology
    • ACF T: Test and Evaluation

    A more detailed description of these career fields may be found in DA Pam 600-3.

  4. Evaluate Advance Civil Schooling (ACS) or Degree Completion opportunities. There are many opportunities for the Acquisition Corps officer and NCO to attend ACS or complete a degree through the Degree Completion program.  However, career timelines and type of degree sought will influence which program fits your career. Contact your ACM for a detailed discussion of the opportunities for your specific goals. The AMB homepage outlines the programs that are available. Prior to enrollment in ACS or Degree Completion, the officer or NCO must have completed their first acquisition assignment.
  5. Refer to the Development Model in the Acquisition Career Development Plan (ACDP). This model provides a framework with which to conduct career planning. Request that your ACM/ Assignment Manager assist you in determining where you are on the model and in planning your career progression strategy.
  6. Prepare an Individual Development Plan (IDP). The IDP is a 5-year plan that outlines your education, training and experience goals. Determine and define your career goals and objectives in concrete terms; i.e., where are you in your career (on the ACDP Development Model) and where do you want to be in the short term and the long term. Using guidance provided by your ACM, work with your supervisor and agree upon a plan that is consistent with the model and your goals. Document the desired education, training or experience on your IDP. For detailed information on completing the IDP, go to
  7. Become certified in your primary Acquisition Career Field. The foundation of the FA51 officer or NCO professional development is the experience, education and training required to obtain DAWIA certification.  Officers are expected to achieve certification in at least two ACFs (one of the two shall be in contracting or program management) with a minimum of Level II certification in one ACF required prior to selection to LTC.  Professional military schooling, acquisition unique training and a strong manner of performance help officers and NCOs to be competitive for subsequent positions with increasing responsibilities and challenges.  NCOs are expected to become DAWIA Level III certified in contracting prior to selection to MSG.  The different levels of certification build upon acquisition skills/ competencies gained at each level which include education, training (institutional) and experience against established criteria.  Certification levels are reflected on the officer’s official Officer Record Brief and NCOs official Enlisted Record Brief.  Information on current certification requirements can be located in the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) catalog at
  8. Commence Career Broadening Activities.For officers, once you have become proficient in a career field, you should commence career-broadening activities and become more agile and adaptive.
    • Pursue functional assignments in a secondary ACF.
    • Become certified at least at Level II in one or more other ACFs.
    • Apply for learning opportunities offered in the AETE/ATAP Catalog.

    These opportunities range from leadership development courses to degree completion/master’s degree programs. For information on acquisition funding as well as other opportunities and application instructions see the AETE/ATAP Catalog.

  9. Meet Corps membership requirements and apply for membership. In order to become a member of the Army Acquisition Corps (AAC), a subset of the Army Acquisition Workforce, individuals must meet the experience, training and education requirements as listed in the Army Acquisition Corps Membership Requirements document. Officers must be serving in the grade of major, or above, and NCOs must be serving in the grade of Master Sergeant, or above.  Military personnel interested in applying for Acquisition Corps membership should contact their AMB Assignment Officer Assignment Manager and request Corps Membership.
  10. Participate in Continuous Learning (CL) activities. Throughout your career, you should participate in continuous learning activities.  Once you are certified in the position you encumber, the USD (AT&L) Policy on Continuous Learning for the Acquisition Workforce requires that you complete a minimum of 80 CL points every two years. Attainment of CL points is not limited to the traditional classroom setting but may be earned in numerous ways.  Work with your supervisor to ensure attainment of CL points is considered when developing your IDP and ensure points earned are captured on your IDP, which is used to document continuous learning.
  11. Be aware of the various promotion, school and command boards. Monitor HRC online for updated career information and timelines. Go to the following link for detail on promotion, school, and command boards.
  12. Complete Command and General Staff College. AAC officers should attain MEL4 certification either through resident or non-resident completion of CGSC prior to primary zone consideration for selection to LTC.  All Functional Area YG 94 and junior officers should complete the common core Intermediate Level Education (ILE) and the follow-on Acquisition Intermediate Qualification Course (IQC) no later than their 15th year of Active Federal Commissioned Service (AFCS).  Officers should meet the statutory and Professional Military Education (PME) requirements prior to selection to Lieutenant Colonel (LTC).
  13. Compete for Acquisition Command and Product Manager Positions (LTC). Best-Qualified Boards are held annually. Information on available positions, eligibility, and application requirements may be found at
  14. Compete for Senior Service College (LTC/COL). Best-Qualified Boards are held annually.  Information on available positions, eligibility, and application requirements may be found at
  15. Compete for Acquisition Command and Project Manager Positions (COL). Best-Qualified Boards are held annually. Information on available positions, eligibility, and application requirements may be found at