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Requirements to join the U.S. military

Every branch of the military sets its own standards for enlisting. Learn about the specific requirements for each, including the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).

Contact a military recruiter

Military Branch Contact Information
Air Force
Coast Guard

Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve: Chat with a recruiter

Marine Corps

Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve: 1-800-MARINES (1-800-627-4637)


Navy and Navy Reserve: 1-800-USA-NAVY (1-800-872-6289)

Space Force

Contact the Air Force to join the Space Force: 1-800-423-USAF (1-800-423-8723)

Citizenship and residency

U.S. citizens and some non-citizens can join the military. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must:

  • Have a U.S. Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)
  • Speak, read, and write English fluently

You cannot join the military to enter the U.S. or to get a visa.

Age limits

Each branch of the military has age limits to enlist in active duty:

  • Air Force: 17 - 39
  • Army: 17 - 35
  • Coast Guard: 17 - 31
  • Marine Corps: 17 - 28
  • Navy: 17 - 39
  • Space Force: 17 - 39

The age limits are different if you join as an officer or join the Guard or Reserve.

Education and testing requirements

ASVAB testing 

Everyone who wants to enlist in the military must take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). Each branch sets its own minimum score to join. Your score will help decide which jobs you can do after you enlist.

Use ASVAB online resources to:

  • Find out where to take the test
  • Get tips for taking the test
  • See sample questions from the 10 sections
  • Understand ASVAB scores

Contact a recruiter, who can help you set up a time to take the ASVAB and tell you about the scores you will need.

Education requirements

You must have a high school or general equivalency diploma (GED) to enlist in the military. There are fewer spots for GED holders to enter the military. If you have a GED, you will have a better chance of joining if you have:

  • Earned college credits 
  • Scored higher on the ASVAB

You must have a degree from a four-year college to join as an officer.

Physical and medical requirements

A medical exam is part of the enlistment process. The exam will assess if you are healthy enough to serve in the military.

Each branch requires recruits to be physically fit. You will have to pass a physical fitness test as part of your enlistment process. Speak with a recruiter to find out the physical requirements for the branch you want to join.

LAST UPDATED: December 6, 2023


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