There are four lower enlisted ranks - Private, PV2, Private First Class, Specialist. Once you reach Specialist, you are eligible for Sergeant, the first of the Non-Commissioned Officer ranks and arguably one of the biggest promotions (because it's the first big jump towards bigger and better things, and you are officially put in charge of soldiers in your platoon). Sergeants and sometimes Staff Sergeants are the last of the ranks to truly have hands on work with soldiers directly, once you get into the SSG-promotable range and higher, you move into more admin positions and have less direct contact with your soldiers on a day to day basis.
ANYWAY!!! That was just a little preliminary thing. Everyone that is a SPC really looks forward to being an E-5, at least I know I do, and it's seen as a 'goal' to have for professional development. It's also the time where you go to your first development school.
In the National Guard, they have E-4 boards done in each unit, but it's not the old way of each soldier appearing before a board of NCOs and answering questions on proficiency, it's all done on paper. They assign you a number of points based on many areas - awards, civilian education, PT score, weapons qual score, leadership points, etc. Then the state ranks each soldier based on the number of points and assigns them an order of merit - statewide, and split up by each job. Then when that list comes out, they start promoting people from the top down to the bottom, depending on if they want to stay in their unit or go to somewhere else in the state.
The E-5 list just came out on Friday, and I found out I'm #1 in the state for my job, so I will get promoted soon!!! I am very excited, I've been waiting for this opportunity and learning all I could beforehand to be ready for this achievement. It will be good to have this before our deployment, as well. I'm probably going to wait to get 'pinned' (where they promote you in front of the whole unit) until my husband gets back from Texas, so he can pin me! I will have whatever date of rank they assign me, and be earning that pay in the meanwhile. It's important that he's there, I think
Anyway, thanks for reading my novel, I just wanted to share my excitement with everyone!!!