How to Join USA Army


Enlisted Soldiers are the backbone of the Army. The enlistment process begins your career as an enlisted Soldier in the Active Army or Army Reserve. Filling out the application is not a commitment to serve. A recruiter will contact you once you submit your application.

How to Join USA Army

Requirements for Joining the Military

The U.S. military has five branches of service: the  Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps. The requirements to join are similar for all five. The main differences are in age limits, test scores, and fitness levels. Men and women meet different fitness standards. Besides the requirements listed here, a branch may have other requirements.

Age Limits for Enlisting

You must be at least 17 to enlist in any branch of the active military. The oldest you can be to enlist for active duty in each branch is:

  • Coast Guard: 31 
  • Marines: 28 
  • Navy: 39 
  • Army: 34 
  • Air Force: 39 

Some branches have different age limits for their part-time Reserve and National Guard. Visit each service's recruiting website for its part-time age limits.

Requirements for Enlisting If You Are Not a U.S. Citizen

You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to enlist in the military, but you may have fewer options. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must:
  • Have a permanent resident card, also known as a Green Card 
  • Currently, live in the U.S. 
  • Speak, read, and write English fluently 
  • Educational and Testing Requirements for Enlisting
  • You must take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. The ASVAB has 10 subtests.
  • Your scores on four of those make up your Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score. This score determines which branch(es) you may join. Each branch has its own lowest score for joining. 
  • Your scores on all 10 subtests determine which job specialties you qualify for.. 
  • You can prepare for the ASVAB by taking sample questions.
  • You must have a high school diploma or a GED to enlist. The services accept only a small number of people with GEDs each year. You can increase your chances of qualifying with a GED by:
  • Earning some college credits and/or 
  • Scoring well on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) 
  • Health and Fitness Requirements for Enlisting
  • You must pass a military entrance medical exam. This includes a physical exam, hearing test, vision test, and height/weight measurements.
  • Each service has its own physical requirements and fitness standards. These depend on the demands of its mission. Even within the same branch, some jobs have tougher or extra requirements.

Steps for Joining the Military

  • Start by doing some research about your options for joining the military. Learn about the five active-duty branches and their part-time counterparts. Know the main differences between officers and enlisted members.
  • Once you know which branch you’re considering, contact a recruiter. A recruiter will give you an overview and answer your questions about that service. If you’re interested in more than one branch, contact a recruiter for each. If you’re interested in joining as an officer, the recruiter will explain any options you may be eligible for.
  • If you decide to enlist, you will report to a military entrance processing station (MEPS). You’ll spend a day or two completing pre-enlistment steps. These include taking the ASVAB, having a physical exam, meeting with a career counselor, and if you’re accepted,taking the oath of enlistment. From there you’ll receive orders for basic training, usually to start within a few weeks. If you enrolled in a delayed entry program, you’ll go home and get orders for basic training within a year.

Contact a Recruiter or Apply Online


  • Army Active Duty & Army Reserve: 1-888-550-ARMY (1-888-550-2769)
  • Army National Guard: 1-800-GO-GUARD (1-800-464-8273)

Air Force

  • Air Force Active Duty: 1-800-423-USAF (1-800-423-8723)
  • Air Force Reserve: 1-800-257-1212
  • Air Force National Guard: 1-800-TO-GO-ANG (1-800-864-6264)


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

Marine Corps

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

Coast Guard

  • Coast Guard Active Duty and Reserve

Learn About the Military

Get a brief overview of the five service branches of the U.S. armed forces:
  • U.S. Air Force (USAF) 
  • U.S. Army (USA)
  • U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) 
  • U.S. Marine Corps (USMC)
  • U.S. Navy (USN) 

The Air Force is part of the Department of Defense (DOD). It’s responsible for aerial military operations, defending U.S. airspace and air bases, and building landing strips. The Air Force Space Command is under this branch. Service members are known as airmen. The reserve components are Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.
The Army is part of the DOD and is the largest of the five military branches. It handles major ground combat missions, especially operations that are ongoing. The Army Special Forces unit is known as the Green Berets for its headgear. Service members are known as soldiers. The reserve components are Army Reserve and Army National Guard.
The Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It’s responsible for maritime law enforcement, including drug smuggling. It manages maritime search and rescue and marine environmental protection. It also secures ports, waterways, and the coasts. Service members are known as Coast Guardsmen, nicknamed Coasties. The reserve component is Coast Guard Reserve. 
The Marine Corps is part of the DOD. It provides land combat, sea-based, and air-ground operations support for the other branches during a mission. This branch also guards U.S. embassies around the world and the classified documents in those buildings. Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) members are known as Raiders. All service members are referred to as Marines. The reserve component is Marine Corps Reserve.
The Navy is part of the DOD. It protects waterways (sea and ocean) outside of the Coast Guard’s jurisdiction. Navy warships provide the runways for aircraft to land and take off when at sea. Navy SEALs (sea, air, and land) are the special operations force for this branch. All service members are known as sailors. The reserve component is Navy Reserve. 


If you’re in high school and looking for help with college tuition, the Army ROTC Four-Year High School Scholarship could be right for you. With it, you can attend college, train to be a leader, and earn a commission as an Army Officer upon graduation.


If you are currently an enlisted Soldier, you can earn a commission through the ROTC Green to Gold Scholarship program. Scholarships are awarded for two, three, and four years, and you can enroll in the program even if you are already attending school.


The JAG Corps provides you the opportunity to study law, earn a law degree, and become an Officer. 



The next step for eligible recruits who want to find out more is to sit down with a recruiter. Recruiters are the most qualified people to help you find out if the Army is right for you. 


Your local recruiter will conduct a prescreening to see if you qualify for enlistment. At the recruiting station, he or she will ask you about your:

3.) Education level 

  • Criminal history 
  • Age 
  • Marital/dependency status 
  • Physical condition

The recruiter will have you take a shortened version of the ASVAB test (Army Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) on a computer, which is a good predictor of how you will score on the actual test.


Think of this as a job interview like any other. Recruiters are looking for committed, focused, responsible people. The process includes a review of your previous employment, education, criminal history, and character traits. A physical fitness assessment is then made, which does not necessarily eliminate potential recruits.


Expand to see a list of commonly asked questions that will help you have a conversation with a recruiter. By answering seven basic questions, you can instantly see if you’re qualified to join the U.S. Army.

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