Requirements For Joining The U.S. Military

The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States of America. The U.S Military consists of the following:

U.S. Army
U.S. Marine Corps
U.S. Navy
U.S. Air Force, and
U.S. Coast Guard.

Requirements for Joining the U.S. Military

To join the enlisted ranks, in general you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder
    • Non-citizens must speak, read, and write English fluently.
    • Non-citizens must currently live in the U.S.
  • Be in good health
  • Be 17 to 40 years old (different branches have different age requirements)
  • Have a high school diploma (some branches will accept a GED)
  • Pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test

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To join as an officer, you must also have attended college.

Guor Maker, a trainee at Air Force Basic Military Training, receives an “Airman’s Coin” at the Coin Ceremony Feb. 1, 2018 outside the Pfingston Reception Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. During the BMT Coin Ceremony Trainees are given “Airman’s Coins’ signifying the final transition from trainee to Airman.

Waivers for Conditions that May Disqualify You

A recruiter may ask a military command to overlook a condition that would otherwise disqualify you. Types of waivers include:

  • Medical
  • Mental Health
  • Criminal
  • Education
  • Moral
  • Age

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However, there are no guarantees you will get a waiver.

Military Service Academies and Other Ways to Become a U.S. Military Officer

You can become an officer in the U.S. military by graduating from one of the U.S. service academies. The academies are colleges that train future commissioned officers.

Benefits and Commitments

  • Tuition, room, and board are free.
  • You get paid while you are attending.
  • You must serve for several years in the military after you graduate, unless you go to the Merchant Marine Academy—then you have other options.

Five Service Academies

There are five military academies:

  • United States Military Academy — Army
  • United States Naval Academy — Navy and Marine Corps
  • United States Coast Guard Academy
  • United States Merchant Marine Academy
  • United States Air Force Academy

How to Get Into a Military Academy

To be accepted into any service academy except for the Coast Guard Academy, you must first be nominated to the school by either:

  • A U.S. senator
  • A U.S. representative
  • The vice president of the U.S., who can nominate applicants to any academy except the Merchant Marine Academy.

How to Get Into the Coast Guard Academy

Submit an application directly. You don’t need to be nominated.

Other Ways to Become a Military Officer

You can also earn an officer commission through:

  • Officer Candidate School (OCS)
  • Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC)
  • A direct commission from the enlisted ranks
  • Certain legal, medical, or clergy professions

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