Special Forces Team Member ... (Military - Enlisted)  What They Do

Just the Facts


Special forces members implement unconventional operations by air, land, or sea during combat or peacetime as members of elite teams. These activities include offensive raids, demolitions, reconnaissance, search and rescue, and counterterrorism. In addition to their combat training, special forces members often have specialized training in swimming, diving, parachuting, survival, emergency medicine, and foreign languages.

This career is part of the Government and Public Administration cluster National Security pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Conducts advanced reconnaissance operations and collects intelligence information
  • Recruits, trains, and equips friendly forces; plans, organizes, trains, advises, assists, and supervises indigenous and allied personnel on collection and processing of intelligence information
  • Conducts raids and invasions on enemy territories; lays and detonates explosives for demolition targets
  • Locates, identifies, defuses, and disposes of ordnance
  • Evaluates terrain, selects weapons emplacement sites, and assigns targets and areas of fire
  • Processes prisoners of war, writes, and establishes security plans, and performs security duties
  • Maintains all classified documents in the operational area, and establishes destruction and evacuation plans
  • Performs, plans, leads, supervises, instructs, and evaluates pararescue activities
  • Supervises and performs insertion, infiltration, exfiltration, and extraction functions
  • Performs basic and advanced trauma casualty management and paramedic level skills, basic emergent surgical procedures, treatment of basic traumatic dental emergencies, and other routine and emergency medical healthcare procedures

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 50 lbs., sometimes up to 100 lbs. You will need a lot of strength at this level.
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Exposed to conditions such as high voltage electricity, combustibles, explosives, and chemicals more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous situations involving possible injury such as cuts, bites, stings, and minor burns more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of special protective items such as a breathing apparatus, safety harness, full protection suit, or radiation protection

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Moving the arms, legs and torso together when the whole body is in motion
  • Using muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring
  • Bending, stretching, twisting, or reaching
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Detecting sounds and hearing the differences between sounds of different pitch and loudness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Seeing clearly in low light conditions
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Exerting oneself physically over long periods of time without getting out of breath
  • Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying objects

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours
  • Overnight travel
  • Weekend work