1. Careers

Joining the Military


Many people believe joining the U.S. Military is simply a matter of going to the recruiter's office, taking a physical, and signing some papers. In reality, it's a rather lengthy and complicated process. Factors such as mental and physical examinations, criminal history, service selection, job selection, age, weight, and vision requirements all come into play.
  1. Choosing a Service
  2. Qualifying to Join
  3. Enlisted Jobs
  4. Enlistment Incentives
  1. Commissioning Options
  2. Processing In
  3. Shipping Out

Choosing a Service

The United States Military consists of five active duty branches and seven reserve componants. The active duty branches include the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard. The Army Reserves, Army National Guard, Air Force Reserves, Air National Guard, Navy Reserves, Marine Corps Reserves, and Coast Guard Reserves make up the reserve componant branches.

Qualifying to Join

There is no right to serve in the United States Military. Congress has given the services the absolute right to set standards for enlistment and commission, and the right to accept or reject applicants based on those standards. Factors such as medical condition, aptitude testing, age, criminal history, number of dependents, and citizenship/legal immigration standards must be met.

Enlisted Jobs

The Army and Marine Corps calls their enlisted jobs "MOS's" (Military Occupation Specialties). The Navy and Coast Guard refer to their enlisted jobs as "ratings." The Air Force calls their enlisted jobs "AFSC's" (Air Force Specialty Codes), or "career fields." All in all, there are over 800 entry-level jobs available for enlisted applicants, depending on qualifications and needs of the service.

Enlistment Incentives

Enlistment incentives serve to entice people to join the U.S. Military. Some incentives, such as the Montgomery G.I. Bill, are available to all who enlist. Other incentives depends on the particular service, and -- quite often -- the particular job that one qualifies for.

Commissioning Options

Individuals who possess a bachelors degree may wish to consider joining the Military as a commissioned officer, rather than an enlisted members. Commission officers receive higher pay than enlisted members, but have a greater degree of responsibility, accountability, and authority.

Processing In

Joining the Military is more than just talking to a recruiter and raising your right hand. You'll undergo weeks of processing and interviews, and tons of paperwork before you ship out.

Shipping Out

In most cases, shipping out requires a second trip to MEPS, where Military officials will recertify your qualifications, discharge you from the Delayed Enlistment Program, and arrange transportation to basic training. Then it's off to boot camp, followed by job training, and finally assignment to your first duty station.

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