Today's Army is not the same as it once was. As military technology advances, resources and equipment broaden the might of fighting forces across today's battlefield. These advances mean more technology based career fields are opening or are already available to Soldiers. These changes promise a bright future but comes at a cost for Soldiers.

When entering the military, Soldiers have an opportunity to pick a military occupation specialty based on armed services vocational battery testing scores before enlistment. With advancements in technology, Soldiers now have to apply competitively to join some of these career fields. The Fort Jackson education center offers opportunities to Soldiers to help improve themselves as well as their careers.

"Today's preparations determines tomorrow's achievements," said Jude Marranco, Fort Jackson's education services officer.

Soldiers need to understand that general technical scores, commonly known as GT, plays a vital role in career opportunities within the Army. Soldiers with a GT score less than 110 are not eligible to attend certain schools within the Army such as medical professions, cyber security or to become an officer to name a few.

Each of these fields are heavily dependent on technology whether it is the introduction of new communications equipment, weapon platforms, aviation assets or understanding and combating the latest cyber threats. All of these fields have MOS' available to Soldiers and the certifications earned within these fields are valuable once a Soldier transitions into civilian life.

The post's education center can assist Soldiers in becoming competitive within these fields through the GT Improvement Program. By increasing a GT score, Soldiers can become eligible for reclassification, promotion and commissioning as an officer.

"We have a 68 percent improvement rate with this program," Marranco said.

The classes are available to Soldiers with a little help from the Richland School District 2 W.R. Rodgers Continuing Education Center. Through grant funding, instructors certified to teach adult continuing education courses are holding improvement courses at the Fort Jackson education center. These specialists hold classroom sessions with Soldiers to help prepare them to take the Armed Forces Classification Test.

"You are doing this not just for you but for your Family," said Dr. Constella Zimmerman, program instructor. "Families are impacted to. You're present income is increased and you're building a better future."

Zimmerman explained how improving a GT score can create opportunities for Soldiers to not only reclassify into another career field that can be beneficial after active-duty but also offer promotion opportunities to Soldiers which will increase their current salaries. This will have a ripple effect for Soldiers as they prepare for military retirement. The higher the income during active-duty, the higher the retirement pay after active-duty.

Classes are being held in person through the education center but alternative classes are available to Soldiers who are unable to attend classes in person. The Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support offers Peterson's Online Academic Skills Course. The website is a self-paced opportunity for Soldiers to study math and verbal skills to prepare them to take the AFCT. Once the online study is complete, Soldiers can schedule to take the post-test through the education center.

Evening classes will be available in October for Soldiers unable to attend classes held during the day. This makes the class perfect to attend for parents and instructors.

Tutoring is also available through Zimmerman. She offers one-on-one tutoring for Soldiers who take the pre-test and are found to be weak in only one or two areas of the test. This offers accelerated learning opportunities to Soldiers who may just need a refresher in math or verbal skills.

"Soldiers need to take advantage of the program while they still can," Marranco said.

While the program is funded through the next year, that funding could end for unforeseen reasons in the future. Zimmerman and Marranco encourage all Soldiers to take advantage of the program now in case funding comes to an end.

"We are passionate," Zimmerman said. "It's not just a job for us instructors, it's a purpose and a passion for us."

For more information or to register for a future class, Soldiers can visit the education center to pick up an application and speak with program representatives. Soldiers who participate in the classes will need to submit a signed DA Form 4187 by their chain of command to take the AFCT. Soldiers interesting in distance learning will need to visit www.nelnetsolutions.com/dantes to register.