Joining the Military can be for many reasons – like recognizing the duty to serve or arising patriotic family values. This sense of service and purpose often leads to a fulfilling life.
There are different ways to serve in the United States Military, and our team will walk you through different military information if you plan to enlist soon.
Table of Contents
- 1 All You Need To Know About Military Life
- 2 6 Service Branches of the US Armed Forces
- 3 Full & Part-Time Options
- 4 How To Join The Military Force
- 5 Requirements For Joining The Military Force
- 6 Apply Online or Contact a Recruiter
- 7 Military Service Benefits
- 8 Enlisted vs Officer Careers
- 9 FAQS
- 10 Key Takeaways
All You Need To Know About Military Life
Every soldier has different day-to-day life experiences because it varies depending on the career choice, service branch, and mission location. However, there is something in common regarding the life of a man in uniform.
All of the service members, setting aside their military branches, are required to go through the daily routine to prepare for a mission. It includes preparing for basic training, wearing different types of uniforms, living far away from home, and such. In addition, everyone is also entitled to travel, deployment, and family support networks.
6 Service Branches of the US Armed Forces
US Space Force (USSF)
The US Space Force (USSF) is one of the military branches of the United States under the Department of the Air Force. The US Space Force learn, train, equip, organize and provide space capabilities to protect the United States and its allied interest in space.
The US Space Force gives freedom to operate in prompt and sustainable space operation in, from, and to space. The whole branch is overseen by the Secretary of the Air Force, a civilian appointee who reports to the Department of Defense.
US Air Force (USAF)
The US Air Force (USAF) is a service branch that is part of the DOD responsible for aerial operations. The USAF organizes, trains, and equips aerial combat and service for offensive and defensive air operations.
The US Air Force is responsible for preparing the necessary aerial protection for effective plan execution, defending US Airbases, and building landing strips. The branch is headed by the then Secretary of the Air Force and directly reports to the Department of Defense.
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US Coast Guard (USCG)
The US Coast Guard is a division at the Department of Homeland Security that provides national search, safety, and security for the United States of America’s seas, waterways, and coast. The USCG is maritime with domestic and international waters jurisdiction, including a federal regulatory agency.
The US Coast Guard is responsible for implementing maritime law and enforcing environmental protection law. During peacetime, the branch is run by the US Department of Homeland Security, and it can be transferred to the Department of Navy during times of war.
The US Navy is a division in DOD that protects waterways such as the ocean and sea outside the jurisdiction of the US Coast Guard. US Navy is a maritime service branch of the US Armed Forces and one of the world’s largest and most powerful Navy.
The US Navy service members provide runaways for aircraft to take off and land when at sea. When in the prosecution of the war, the Navy will take charge of the Coast Guard to prepare necessary naval forces by recruiting, organizing, and training them.
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US Marine Corps (USMC)
The US Marine Corps from the DOD is responsible for providing sea-based, air-ground, and land combat operation aid to other service branches during missions. The USMC also secures US Embassies around the world, especially the classified documents in the building.
The USMC aims to defend and seize advanced naval bases and help naval campaigns. It is also responsible for creating techniques, tactics, and equipment with the use of amphibious landing forces. The Marine Corps service members are called Marines, while the Marine Corps Special Operations Command members are called Raiders.
Full & Part-Time Options
Active Duty (Full-Time)
The Active Duty service members are those who work full time in the Military, may it be domestically or overseas deployment. Active duty service members can live on bases and be deployed at any time .
Active duty service members receive regular paychecks with full benefits, just like when employed in a job outside the Military. In addition, it comes with health care, housing allowance, and a paid vacation of up to 30 days per annum.
The Reserve service members undergo the same training as the Active Duty members; however, they are reserve components, their training happens close to their home. They will go to the bases when in need to be deployed.
The Reserve service members receive salaries depending on the training and deployment, but they receive the same perks like paid vacations as active-duty personnel. Some reservists serve full-time, but others are reserve components where they usually have their civilian job. They only train one weekend in a month with two weeks of field exercises per annum.
National Guard (Part-Time)
The National Guard, which can be of the Army National Guard or Air National Guard, are community-based service members that report to their respective state governors. Their main mission is to protect the US domestic interests in times of natural disasters and state conflicts.
The Army National Guard service members can be deployed with full-time service members if needed to receive equal training. A National Guard is a part-timer and can hold civilian jobs or attend school while waiting for any mission but is required to undergo training like the Reserve service members.
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Split Training (Part-Time)
The Split Training service members are high school, college, and vocational students who want to enlist in the Military.
The Split training requires the members to train for two summers and be on duty monthly for one weekend during the school year. Like other part-time options, Split trainees can receive payment on their weekend duties after completing the training, but they are not entitled to benefits such as paid vacation.
How To Join The Military Force
- Research before deciding which service branch and serving options you would like to enter.
- Find and visit a recruitment office of a specific branch so they can assist and give more detailed steps and information on how to join the Army or answer personal queries.
- If you want to enlist in the Military, go to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) to complete your enlistment process that may take a few days.
- Pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery that helps determine the career path suited for you.
- Pass the physical examination by taking medical exams and answering the medical history questionnaire.
- Meet the MEPS counselor to confirm the career you are qualified for.
- Take the Oath of Enlistment to become a full-fledged officer.
- Undergo Basic Training or Boot Camp and, if given an opportunity, become a non-commissioned officer or make a transition from enlisted to an officer by taking transitional programs.
Requirements For Joining The Military Force
Aside from being at least 17 years old, there are different age limits if you plan to enlist in any branch of active military services. This is to ensure equal opportunity for educational attainment and physical condition.
- Navy: 39
- Coast Guard: 31
- Space Force: 39
- Marines: 28
- Air Force: 39
- Army: 35
For Non-US Citizens
If you are a non-US citizen planning to enlist, you can still proceed to military enlistment, but you must first secure a permanent resident card or green card. Men and women, may they be US or Non-US citizens, can join the troops if they are interested in serving the country. They must also currently live in the USted States of America and can read, speak and write English fluently.
Educational & Testing Requirements
Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
In order to join the military force or an army, you must pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), wherein ten subtests will define the job you are qualified to do. The battery examination is designed to learn and measure aptitudes in four domains – Math, Science/Technical, Spatial, and Verbal.
If you are looking for reviewers, some websites offer reviewers that can be helpful when taking ASVAB.
Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT)
The Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) is a screening test that determines a military applicant’s eligibility and mental ability. There are different AFQT Categories that are grouped for reporting purposes, and the combination of four ASVAB subtests is needed to form the AFQT percentile score of the candidate.
You can check different websites that can be helpful if you are planning to enter and take the test.
Health & Fitness
When it comes to enlistment, passing the health and fitness test is vital because it shows the person’s physical capability to join the military and serve the country. You must pass the medical examination, including physical, vision, hearing, weight, and height measurements.
Each service branch has its own fitness standards and latest physical requirements depending on the demand of the mission. As much as your intellect, your physical status is important when you are planning to enter the Army.
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Before Military Service
Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC)
The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) is a college program before military service offered in different universities and colleges in the United States. It prepares the students to become an officer in return for college assistance. It comes with a partial or fully paid college grant and a post-college career wherein the students will serve in the Military after graduation.
Service Academies & Senior Military Colleges
If students want to experience the military environment while getting an education, the Senior Military College (SMC) or Service Academy offers a widely respected first-class education. The SAs provide a full four-year scholarship while the SMCs give financial assistance for eligible students. In exchange for the educational assistance is a requirement to uphold the service obligation of being a Commissioned Officer for a minimum of five years.
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During Military Service
During military service, those who were granted college assistance has the opportunity to enroll in accredited vocational-technical schools, colleges, and universities. To qualify for the tuition support, the applicant must meet the conditional requirements such as a cap on credit course or have a minimum time in the service contract.
The CLEP Exam is designed to compress full-year or two-year courses into one semester to save tuition fees and countless hours. The CLEP falls into five categories: world languages, history, social science, business, mathematics and science, and composition and literature. Every exam you pass is equivalent to three hours of college credit that will help you compress the semester.
DANTES Subject Standardized Test (DSST)
The Dantes Subject Standardized Test (DSST) is a series of tests that contains different college subjects. It is an effective method that indicates your prior learning and can help measure your intellect. By passing the DSST, you will earn college credit that you will need to apply or enlist.
Community College Of The Air Force (CCAF)
The Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) is a two-year college enlistment applicable for Airmen. It offers different associate degree programs and requires technical job specialty, general education, leadership, management, and military studies. The active-duty training credits at Air Force Technical Training Schools could be credited when you enrolled in CCAF as well if you got enlistment from Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.
Military School Credits
When you complete Basic Training or Boot Camp, you can earn college credits from the Military School. After the Basic Training, you will undergo advanced job training in “A School” or Advanced Individual Training (AIT), which can also be counted as college credit.
To sum it up, you can earn college credit while training for your mission trip. However, not every school is accredited, so you can check the American Council on Education and your recruiter to ensure college credits.
If the military training school does not give college credit that you can use for educational requirements, they might offer certification programs in specialized technical fields. National Trade Associations may consider Certification Tests. If you do not plan to re-enlist, the Certification Programs will help you easily switch to a civilian career without going through a long training period.
Loan Repayment Programs
The Navy and Army provide a loan repayment program that helps those in reenlistment to pay off the college loans accrued before entering service. There can be unique processes and requirements for the Loan Repayment Programs. Still, it is an enlistment incentive that will help college graduates entering the Armed Forces manage their educational loans.
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After Military Service
Post-9/11 GI Bill
The Post-9/11 GI Bill is an all-inclusive education benefits package for veterans who served after Sept 10, 2001, and newly active duty service members. It also covers Reserve and Guard Members on duty for more than 90 days since the 9/11 bombing.
The Post 9/11 GI Bill covers college tuition and fees payment, allowance for books and supplies, and housing allowance. It will vary on the member’s length of service.
The GI Bill Kicker
Each service branch offers college fund programs except for the Coast Guard, and the amount and incentives will vary depending on the branches. To receive the GI Bill Kicker after service, they need to present their high school diploma, and they must be enrolled in the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Moreover, the test scores, occupation, and type of service can also be a requirement to assess your eligibility for the GI Bill Kicker.
Apply Online or Contact a Recruiter
If you are ready to take the next step in enlistment, you can search their official page and apply online or find a recruiter to guide you about the application. The online application is a jumpstart to your career. Here are the contact numbers for each branch:
- Marine Corps: Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve: 1-800-MARINES (1-800-627-4637)
- Air Force: Air Force: 1-800-423-USF (1-800-423-8723)
Air Force Reserve: 1-800-257-1212
Air National Guard: 1-800-TO-GO-ANG (1-800-864-6264)
- Coast Guard: Chat with a live recruiter on their page on these available hours:
Monday – Thursday, 12:00pm to 6:00pm EST
Friday – 12:00pm to 6:00pm EST
Saturday – Sunday, 12:00pm to 6:00pm EST
- Army: Army and Army Reserve: 1-888-550-ARMY (1-888-550-2769)
Army National Guard: 1-800-GO-GUSD (1-800-464-8273)
- Space Force: Space Force: 1-800-423-USF (1-800-423-8723)
- Navy: Navy and Navy Reserve: 1-800-US-NAVY (1-800-872-6289)
Military Service Benefits
While on training, those in the Army receive job training, money for college, salary, allowance, and promotions. They are also entitled to discounts, 30 days paid vacation leave, top-of-the-line health care, and life insurance.
Moreover, all the service members are entitled to Uniformed Services Blended Retirement System (BRS) and dozens of federal benefits for Veterans that you can search on their page and websites.
The leadership, discipline, determination, and camaraderie in military service are immeasurable, and their lives and sacrifices for the country cannot be compensated by any means. However, it is nice to know that the service benefits can be competitive with civilian jobs, and it is one way for the government to honor and thank them for their service.
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Enlisted vs Officer Careers
The enlisted and officer careers have a significant impact on the training and experience of a new recruit. If you are enlisted, you are required to have a high school diploma, while an officer position requires a four-year degree or equivalent.
Most enlisted land on careers that need individual skills and are more involved in hands-on training for transportation, mechanical, office fields, and human services. On the contrary, the officer lands on careers that have to do with leadership, planning, directing, and critical decision making.
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If you will be joining the Military, you have to serve for four years in active duty and two years in Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) on the first-term enlistment. However, there are services that offer two, three, or six-year active duty and reserve enlistment if you search for shorter branch service.
A cadet can make roughly $15,000 a year in their first six months based on the latest salary update. A Major General with more than eight years in the service can make roughly $180,000 a year. The salary depends on the rank and length of tenure in the Military.
We’ve provided you with the detailed steps on how to become an American Soldier. If you are interested in joining the Army to serve the country, protect the national interest, and defend the nation, we hope you find this post helpful. People join the Military for various reasons but just like other jobs, joining the Armed Forces is a big commitment that needs to be taken seriously.
There are different service branches in the Military so we recommend that you discern your calling. Moreover, joining the Army has its own fair share of advantages that can be helpful for you and your family. It is a good-paying job with a lot of benefits, especially when in retirement.
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