How to Join

Eligibility Requirements

While the Services have similar eligibility requirements, they may also reserve the right to enlist recruits using criteria that are based on the needs or vacancies of the current mission. The general requirements listed here apply to the U.S. Military as a whole. For specifics, please contact a recruiter.

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Age Requirements

Military and service academy minimum entrance age requirements are 17 with parental consent or 18 without parental consent. Service academy applicants must meet the age requirements as of July 1 of the year of entry.

Army

Age Requirements

Active Duty

17-35

Reserve

17-35

Guard

17-35

Service Academies

17-23

Marine Corps

Age Requirements

Active Duty

17-29

Reserve

17-29

Guard

N/A

Service Academies

17-23

Navy

Age Requirements

Active Duty

17-34

Reserve

17-39

Guard

N/A

Service Academies

17-23

Air Force

Age Requirements

Active Duty

17-39

Reserve

17-38

Guard

17-39

Service Academies

17-23

Coast Guard

Age Requirements

Active Duty

17-27

Reserve

17-39

Guard

N/A

Service Academies

17-22

Physical Requirements
Staff Sergeant | Andrew Miltenberger Army

Physical Requirements

Physical requirements vary greatly across each Service branch. Generally speaking, potential recruits should be in good physical condition, of appropriate weight and able to pass a standard physical screening prior to entry. For specific information, please contact a recruiter.

Educational Requirements

Success in any branch of the Military depends on a good education. A high school diploma is most desirable. Candidates with a GED (General Education Development) certificate can enlist, but some Services may limit their opportunities. It is very difficult to be considered a serious candidate without either a high school diploma or an accepted alternative credential.

Citizenship Requirements

U.S. citizens or Legal Permanent Residents (people who have an INS I-151/I-551 Green Card) may join the U.S. Military. For more information about citizenship, visit the U.S. Immigration and Nationalization (INS) website.

Properly documented noncitizens 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 Mariana Islands, American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau.

Selective Service

For almost all male U.S. citizens and male aliens living in the United States who are ages 18 through 25, there is a requirement to register with the Selective Service.

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