The Navy established the Personnel Specialist (PS) rating in 2005 by merging two ratings that had been established in 1948: Personnelman (PN) and Disbursing Clerk. The Personnelman rating combined a plethora of Specialist positions—Classification Interviewers, Position Classifiers, Discharger Interviewers, and Personnel Supervisors, for example—that had been created during World War II and the subsequent need to ensure that incoming Sailors were routed to jobs where they could the most to the war effort. Disbursing Clerks were primarily responsible for handling payroll, but their duties expanded significantly in the decades leading up to the 2005 merger that created the Personnel Specialist rating.
Taken as a whole, the Personnel Specialist rating blends the duties of a Human Resources department with the oversight tasks of an Auditing department. Depending on the job, a Sailor in the Personnel Specialist rating might counsel fellow enlisted Sailors on how opportunites for training, career advancement, and education; ensure that a Sailor’s withholding and other tax data has been properly set up; maintain ADP equipment that handles payroll disbursement; or handle personnel records related to a wide variety of issues such as the status of family and dependents to Naval justice matters.
The Class “A” School for Sailors pursuing a career in the Personnel Specialist rating is held in Meridian, Mississippi. Becoming familiar with forms, policies, and procedures are the focal points of the five-week course; enlistees considering the rating should be aware that typing is not just a plus but a requirement for the rating and that a typing test must be taken at some point during their career as a PS Sailor.
Another consideration: Personnel Specialists spend the vast majority of their time at shore stations. Over the course of a twenty-year stint in the Navy, PS Sailors are likely to spend up just a quarter of that time assigned to a fleet unit. That’s obviously a plus for landlubbers, but those seeking a traditional seagoing Naval experience are advised to look at other ratings.