Today's Military:

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS FAQs

Age, physical, educational and other requirement-related questions for those considering joining the Military.
If you cannot find the answer to your question, please contact a recruiter.

Each branch of the Service has different requirements. Minimum entrance age requirements are 17 (with parental consent) or 18 (without parental consent).

Because of the varying physical demands on servicemembers in each branch, physical requirements vary greatly. These differences can vary even within each branch of the Service. Generally speaking, potential servicemembers should be in good physical condition, of appropriate weight and able to pass a standard physical screening prior to entry.

Success in any branch of the Military depends on a good education, and a high school diploma is most desirable. Candidates with a GED can enlist, but some Services may limit opportunities. It is very difficult to be considered a serious candidate without either a high school diploma or accepted alternative credential. In any case, staying in school is important for entering the Military.

The length of commitment depends greatly on the chosen Service, required training and a number of other variables. Military personnel may retire after 20 years of service and must retire after 30 years of service. It's best to contact a recruiter to get a clearer picture of what a potential servicemember's specific situation would call for.

As part of the entrance process for any service, prior to boot camp, new recruits will receive a physical exam. During that exam, they will be asked about their overall health. A recruit's input and the result of the exam will determine his or her ability to meet the health and physical fitness standards for military service. Because of the very particular and personal nature of this discussion, contact a recruiter for more specific information.

Each Service takes a different approach to evaluating the severity and number of offenses on a candidate's record. The results of this evaluation may — or may not — disqualify candidates.

On average, across the Services, more than 79 percent of all jobs in the Military are open to women. The percentage of women serving on active duty in the Military has doubled since 1978. Clearly, women play a very important role in today's Military. Each Service has physical requirements specific to female enlistees.

Yes. U.S. Citizens or Permanent Resident Aliens (people who have an INS I-151/I-551 "Green Card") may join the U.S. Military.

Properly documented non-citizens may enlist. However, opportunities may be limited. Contact a recruiter for more advice on a specific situation.

For enlistment purposes, the United States includes Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Marianas Islands, American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau.

Each Service has specific policies relating to dependents, but in general, the Military will not accept applicants with more than two dependents under the age of 18. Waivers can be made on a case-by-case basis.

MILITARY PAY AND BENEFITS FAQs

Questions about service commitments, pay, educational, health and other benefits available to servicemembers.
If you cannot find the answer to your question, please contact a recruiter.

The length of commitment depends greatly on the chosen Service, required training and a number of other variables. Military personnel may retire after 20 years of service and must retire after 30 years of service. It's best to contact a recruiter to get a clearer picture of what a potential servicemember's specific situation would call for.

Though technically not a "shorter" commitment, the Two-Year Enlistment program is available for some services.

The National Guard serves both states and the nation in general, whereas the Reserve serve only the national military services. National Guard units assist the country in times of need. Reserve units are activated specifically for military missions, primarily abroad. National Guard members can receive educational benefits that may vary from state to state, in addition to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. It's important to understand that the National Guard is considered an extension of the reserve component.

Base Pay at each rank is the same across all Services, but many factors affect what a servicemember will actually earn. To get a better idea of potential salary and benefits, visit our compensation page.

Yes. The Military provides assistance for a wide range of educational opportunities for its personnel. Continuing one's education while serving does require extra work but can pay huge dividends for the future. For more information, visit our educational support page.

Qualified Service personnel can receive tuition benefits of up to $4,500 per fiscal year. For more information, visit our educational support page.

TYPES OF MILITARY SERVICE FAQs

Questions about various types of service, locations of service and more.
If you cannot find the answer to your question, please contact a recruiter.

The length of commitment depends greatly on the chosen Service, required training and a number of other variables. Military personnel may retire after 20 years of service and must retire after 30 years of service. It's best to contact a recruiter to get a clearer picture of what a potential servicemember's specific situation would call for.

Part-time duty is service in the Reserve and/or National Guard. The Reserve and National Guard are great ways to serve the country while getting the training, skills and qualities offered by the Military.

Each of the full-time Services has Basic Training ("boot camp"), which is required for all entrants. After completing Basic Training, depending on further training requirements, a serviceperson may be assigned to a location far from his or her home and may often be asked to relocate for assignments. As such, there are no guarantees a member will serve close to home.

CAREERS FAQs

Questions about military career fields and how careers are assigned.
If you cannot find the answer to your question, please contact a recruiter.

First, candidates need to confirm that the careers they want are available. Thousands of different jobs are available, but not in each Service. Potential recruits and parents should review the job categories in the careers section of this site and then contact a recruiter. They can help candidates tailor their career paths in the Military.

The ASVAB test helps young people identify the things they're good at, the things they're interested in and good job matches.

For more information on pay and benefits, visit our compensation section.

The short answer is “yes.” However, many military jobs come with time commitments, so a servicemember might be obligated to remain in a specific career for the length of his or her contract. It is best to ask a recruiter for specifics, or, if already serving, to speak with the command career counselor.

Enlisted servicemembers and officers are equally important to the success of military missions. Here are the primary differences between the two types of roles:

Enlisted:

  • Join with a high school diploma (or equivalent)
  • Fill office, transportation, mechanical, human service and combat jobs
  • Make up about 83 percent of service personnel
  • Have a pay grade E-1 through E-9

Officers:

  • Join with a four-year college degree or higher
  • Fill managerial, professional and technical jobs
  • Include: doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, pilots, etc.
  • Make up about 17 percent of service personnel
  • Have a pay grade O-1 through O-10

Servicemembers usually receive a modest pay raise annually, to keep pace with the cost of living. In addition, raises are received when servicemembers are promoted to the next pay grade. (This is generally associated with a new rank or the amount of time an individual has served.) Time between promotions varies based on servicemember performance.

MILITARY RECRUITING FAQs

Questions about locating a recruiter and getting the most from your visit.
If you cannot find the answer to your question, please contact a recruiter.

Whatever they are curious about! Recruiters are the very best source of information about what the Military is like, what young people can get from the Service and all the steps in the process of recruiting. It matters that people get accurate and current information, and recruiters are the best resource for answers to even the most difficult questions regarding the Service.

Recruiters are there to find the right recruits, not just any recruits. The image of military recruiters as high-pressure people who stop at nothing to get a candidate to sign on the dotted line is not only old-fashioned — it's wrong. The Military needs candidates with the ability and the real desire to join. As such, pressuring people to join would do a disservice to both the recruit and to the Military.

A recruiter is the best resource to what the Military — and the specific Service he or she represents — is truly all about. To find a recruiter in your area, use our recruiter locator.

If you have made attempts to reach a local recruiter but received no contact, try again. And if you are having trouble finding a recruiter, be sure to visit our recruiter locator to make sure you locate a recruiter convenient to you.

There is no difference. All recruiters are advisors, helping you understand more about the options available to young people today.

PARENT FAQs

If you cannot find the answer to your question, please contact a recruiter.

The minimum age required to join any Service is 18, or 17 with parental permission. Upper age ranges vary by Service and may be waived in some cases. Each Service also has specific height, weight and fitness requirements. Other factors that affect enlistment include education level, number of dependents and financial obligations.

The main differences between Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard are in time commitment and where servicemembers are stationed. After enlisting, your child will leave to complete his or her Service's form of Basic Training. After that, active-duty servicemembers are deployed to military locations in the U.S. or overseas and serve on a full-time basis.

In contrast, Reserve and National Guard units serve on a part-time basis in the U.S., so your child can still live close to home and maintain a career outside the Military. Reserve and Guard members drill one weekend a month and serve on Active Duty for roughly two weeks out of the year, mostly for advanced training. Both Guard and Reserve members can be activated and deployed overseas if called upon.

While total length of service commitment varies based on Service branch need and occupational specialty, a first term is generally four years of Active Duty followed by four years in a Reserve unit or Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). IRR members do not drill and are not paid, but may be recalled to Active Duty in times of need until their eight-year total commitment has expired.

Jobs, or Military Occupational Specialties (MOS), are assigned based on several factors:

Essentially, the recruit has some say in career choice, especially once all critical jobs in a Service have been filled. A recruiter will discuss opportunities with your child to ensure the best career fit.

On-base housing varies by rank and family situation. Most single servicemembers starting out are required to live on-base for a period of time. Their housing is similar to a modern college dormitory or apartment complex. Soldiers with families who live on-base have a variety of options, such as apartments or single-family homes.

Servicemembers who live in off-base housing are given a housing allowance based on the number of people in their family and the cost of living in their area. Keep in mind that off-base housing is granted based on a servicemember’s rank, family status, job responsibility, and performance. A commanding officer must approve any request to live off-base.

As in the civilian world, military life varies depending on a servicemember’s job. Once work or training is done for the day, however, a servicemember can do as he or she pleases. Many people are surprised to find the Military is much like any other job. Even during deployments, servicemembers may have time for recreation and exploring new destinations.

In general, DoD prohibits the enlistment of any applicant who has more than two dependents under the age of 18. While the Services are allowed to waive this policy, they often will not. In fact, most of the Services are even stricter in their policies:

  • Army: Requires a waiver for more than one dependent
  • Marine Corps: Requires a waiver for any dependents
  • Navy: Requires a waiver for financially responsible parents with more than one dependent, and single applicants must not have custody of a dependent
  • Air Force: Allows applicants to have one minor dependent upon enlistment, provided the applicant is married to a civilian
  • Coast Guard: Considers dependent waivers based on service needs.

Once serving, all servicemembers are free to marry and have children as they wish. Military health care can be applied to family members and female servicemembers can take maternity leave. For more specific information, contact a recruiter.

Yes. All Service branches offer the opportunity for higher education, both during and after service. Many Military training programs count toward class credit, while some branches offer classes on-base or online (the Air Force, for instance, has its own community college). All servicemembers are eligible for tuition support through the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other tuition repayment programs.

High school students interested in officer careers may wish to enroll in a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program at the college of their choice. In exchange for a service commitment, ROTC provides college scholarships and leadership training.

Service Academies offer another opportunity for young adults. These academies provide a strong college education with the discipline of officer training.

There are thousands of Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) across hundreds of fields. Some jobs require prior experience or advanced degrees, but most come with full training. The jobs available at any given time depend on what the Services need, so it’s best to speak with a recruiter for specific information. In the meantime, you can explore possible career opportunities.

Military pay is based on rank and time in service, with raises occurring at regular intervals. Compensation is a combination of Base Pay and allowances (housing, medical insurance, and more). All Services use the same Base Pay scale.

To begin with, all recruits undergo their Service branch’s version of Basic Training, commonly known as boot camp. While boot camp varies in duration from Service to Service, the focus is the same: preparing recruits physically, mentally, and emotionally for their future in the Military.

Following Basic Training, servicemembers receive advanced training in their specialty. A variety of training methods are used, including classroom instruction, field exercises, and simulations. Ongoing training is also available in most specialties to keep servicemembers’ skills sharp.

Following boot camp, most Service branches allow new servicemembers a short break to spend time at home. After that, servicemembers generally spend another six months to a year in advanced training for their occupational specialty before deploying overseas or stateside.

With installations all over the globe, it is impossible to predict in advance where a servicemember will end up stationed. Servicemembers are assigned jobs based on the Services’ needs, and the servicemember’s skills and training. The good news is that servicemembers generally know well in advance where they’ll be going. The other thing to keep in mind is that deployment does not automatically mean going to war. Servicemembers may also be deployed for support in noncombat areas, or may be deployed domestically to help with disaster relief.

All active-duty Services offer 30 days of paid vacation per year during which servicemembers may spend time with their families or plan other Rest and Recuperation (R&R). Options like space-available travel allow troops to fly free of charge on regularly scheduled Military flights, provided there is a seat available. This is a great, inexpensive way to get to a destination. Family members are also welcome to visit their servicemember on-base.

Even while deployed, servicemembers will usually have access to postal mail, email, instant messaging, and phone service (even while at sea). While communication may be restricted during certain missions, modern technology makes it relatively easy for your child to keep in touch.

If there is a family emergency, you should contact your local American Red Cross office, which can relay messages to U.S. military personnel worldwide.

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