Learn the basic requirements and steps for joining the U.S. military as an enlisted member.
If you're thinking of enlisting in the military, start with some research. It's a big decision, and you’ll have important choices to make when you sign up.
As an active duty enlisted member, you'll learn a job specialty and do hands-on work. You’ll sign a contract, usually for four years active and four years inactive service.
The military has five branches: the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy. Each has its own focus, job specialties, base locations, and more.
Requirements to Enlist
U.S. citizen or
Lawful permanent resident with a valid Green Card (You may have fewer job choices.)
Enlist at 17 with parental consent, or 18 or older without. Each service has a different enlistment age limit:
Coast Guard: 31
Air Force: 39
Education and Testing
High school diploma or
GED (Your options may be more limited in some branches.)
Everyone must take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. It determines which branches and jobs you can pursue.
Health and Fitness
Pass a physical exam and meet weight limits. Each service has different fitness standards.
Steps for Enlisting
1. Contact a Recruiter
Get in touch with a recruiter for each branch you’re interested in. They’ll answer your questions.
2. Report to MEPS
If you decide to enlist, you'll spend a day at a military entrance processing station (MEPS). You'll take the ASVAB, have your physical exam, and meet with a career counselor. If you're accepted, you'll take the oath of enlistment.
3. Await Orders for Basic Training
You'll receive orders for basic training within a few weeks. If you enrolled in the delayed entry program, you’ll get orders within a year.
To learn more and to find a recruiter, go to usa.gov/join-military.