So you want to join the United says military. Perhaps you’re simply curious in ~ this point. Or probably you’ve thought about walking right into the recruiter’s office. The won’t surprise anyone to find out that involvement is a fairly easy process for together a big life decision. The a transformational endure — yet it is additionally a bureaucratic procedure — whether you’re 18 and fresh out of high college or you’ve been approximately the block for a few years.

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You must realize this native the get-go.


If you’re somewhere between picking increase a brochure and being ready to take the Oath the Enlistment, there are a the majority of things you have to know and prepare yourself for, so obtain comfortable and also prepare come hit the books. Yeah, there might be studying involved. The process is easy, in reality joining is not. Your recruiter will overview you through the paperwork. However you still should qualify to be in ours military. This series will assist you be ready for every little thing you have to know before you visit a recruiter’s office.

For most civilians, U.S. Armed forces life is a type of black color hole that information. Yeah, Marines look cool in those uniforms yet how castle go around getting castle is something rather altogether. The life of a U.S. Convoy is much more than running v the woods v 90-pound packs every day or barking orders in ~ subordinates. Once you learn the truth about what your everyday life might be like, you might not it is in all that keen on joining. And also if you’re no 100 percent devoted to it, recruiters have some surprising information for you — Uncle Sam may not actually want you.

This collection is about giving honest, unfiltered commentary and also insight from real army recruiters. They genuinely desire you to ask them all the hard questions burning in your hearts and also minds since they desire to offer the United says Army, Navy, waiting Force, maritime Corps, and Coast guard the brightest, most committed troops who genuinely want to it is in there. So ask lock anything and also everything. This is what recruiters talk about amongst themselves.

We additionally want to offer you a way to protect yourself from any bad info floating around. Civilians have the right to spread myths and also veterans have the right to talk trash, yet you need to understand which inquiries to ask come make certain this decision is great for you and not simply for the military. Make sure you recognize what’s buried in the fine print of that contract, due to the fact that everyone’s contract is different. The time to type facts indigenous fiction.


The ceiling minimum you need to recognize is the enlisting is a process that deserve to take everywhere from a few weeks come a year or more. So nothing be fear to go knock top top a recruiter’s door, because you won’t be learning about what occurred to the small yellow bird any kind of time soon.

But you must question whether this is the appropriate decision for you.

The decision: come enlist or no to enlist

This might or might not come together a shock to you, but the army isn’t just taking everyone they have the right to get. Together a matter of fact, there space many, many people who have to not join the military. If you’re make the efforts to figure out if military business is right for you, your recruiter is do the very same determination about you.


And they space really, really an excellent at it. Recruiters are some of the military’s sharpest troops.

If friend don’t do the recruiter’s cut, that’s more than likely the first sign you need to reconsider a career in the military. Or at the very least your first choice of branch. If girlfriend don’t make the reduced in the coast Guard office, there’s always the Navy, after all. If her recruiter thinks you have what it takes however you’re quiet not certain if it’s for you, review on.

Getting right into the military means going with the hoops required to enlist, meeting the minimum requirements, having actually a high college education and a clean record, among other things. The military really, really cares about your unpaid parking tickets and also your full tattoo sleeves. The recruiter is going come ask you many very personal questions. (Have you ever before used drugs? have you ever before been arrested? have you ever before had surgery?) answer honestly for both the recruiter and also yourself, no matter just how ashamed you might or may not be. That probably better not to it is in proud of your rap sheet, though.

If friend don’t have the patience for the process, it is the very first sign it’s not for you. Army life is complete of this processes and procedures, and you have to be all set for it.


Recruiters say the very first step is thinking around what you want to do and if serving is a action in the direction. If you simply need a job, remember the the military is waaaaaaay an ext than a job, the an entirely different method of life. The services of organization are so plenty of that bases have whole courses specialized to make the most of them. If every you’re in search of is a paycheck or you don’t require those benefits, you’re walking to acquire much an ext than what friend bargained for.

In the military, you deserve to be jailed for getting here late to work. Yet unlikely that is, it’s quiet possible. I do not have anything else in the country can you get bread and also water jail time for resting in. If you get in and also make it every the method through basic and technical training and also decide it’s no for you, you can’t simply quit, either. You signed a contract through the government and also breaking that can impact the remainder of her life.

If there’s a veteran in her life, ask them to come v you to your beforehand meetings through the recruiter. At the an extremely least take it someone who knows girlfriend well enough to help answer the recruiter’s toughest personal questions. You can be surprised that few of their answers are different from yours.

The least you can do for your recruiter, your country, and also yourself is no waste the taxpayer dollars that takes to procedure you because that a job.


You may not it is in 100 percent certain, however if you ago out, perform it as early on as possible. You’re walking to go to the army Entrance handling Station nearest you because that at the very least one night. Your liked branch of organization will be footing the invoice for the food and hotel. The night prior to you ship out, you will do it likely end up in the exact same hotel. Recruiters only gain so countless job slots to to fill every month and if you obtain a guaranteed job but ago out in ~ the last 2nd you’re denying that project to someone who could have want it. Be sort to your fellow recruits.

The most important thing recruiters desire you to understand is they room ideally in search of someone that thinks the the army as their liked career. And also why not? at the an extremely least, be able to visualize the objectives you have actually for your future and also see exactly how the army might help you get there. If four to eight years invested learning, listening, following orders, and sacrificing her time no a method to the end, college student loans might save you and also your recruiter a lot of time and also headache.


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Choosing a branch

There’s an old hoax that claims the reason the wait Force, Army, Navy, and Marines bicker among themselves is because they nothing speak the exact same language. If girlfriend tell them to “secure the building,” the military will collection up a perimeter and also post guards roughly the place. The navy will rotate out the lights and lock the doors. The Marines will kill anyone inside and then set up a headquarters. The Air pressure will take the end a five-year lease ~ above the building with an option to buy at the end.

And the recruiters for each company have their very own pitch. It’s often said that the army will promise you money come pay for school, the Navy will promise you can travel approximately the world. The Air force will train you to get a an excellent job and also the maritime Corps supplies a rite the passage, a grueling collection of hardships that will construct character favor nothing rather can.

If girlfriend ask a veteran of any branch, you’ll obtain an moral — and often funny — opinion that the various other branches. Interservice rivalry runs deep and also the jokes space so old castle would have been required into retirement decades ago. Hoax are an excellent fun because that vets, but brand-new recruits need much more substantial information.

Recruiters have to bridge the gap between these an extremely real military and also civilian worlds and also there are real after-effects for those selecting their new careers.

While recruiters for one branch of company don’t frequently talk around the various other branches, lock still out to offer you on their branch. Castle are contending over the finest prospective recruits. If you desire to understand something about the waiting Force, go watch the Air pressure recruiter. Don’t ask the maritime Corps, they don’t have time to badmouth the Air pressure any an ext than they already do. The truth is, as much as tangible benefits are concerned, you’re walk to obtain the exact same from every branch the service. One E-1 in the Air force gets the exact same pay and also benefits together an E-1 in the Navy. Housing allowances room the same. You every earn the exact same GI Bill.

Opportunity is something else altogether.

Maybe you’re looking for a clinical career. If so, the naval Corps isn’t your branch. Desire to it is in in the infantry? Think around the military or Marines and not the Navy. If you desire to occupational in room one day and can’t wait for the an are Force, maybe look right into Air pressure careers. Those space a few examples, however career opportunity need to be the an initial consideration, not whether you like to swim. It likewise affects just how you obtain promoted, because every branch of the military offers out promotions in a various way.

The Air force takes a less personal look at enlisted airmen, relying more on check scores and also line numbers. Meanwhile, enlisted soldiers in the military will confront a promotion board at higher levels, boards who look in ~ a soldier’s attitude, appearance, fitness scores and other factors. In the Marines, promotions come slow, together there will should be a vacancy in one rank and also career because that a naval to obtain promoted. As Marines gain more and much more rank, promotion gets much more and much more difficult. Together for the Navy, they have actually ratings, utilizing a formula that rewards time in service, time in grade. The Navy has actually career-specific qualifications the you’ll must earn. And in the marine there’s a large difference in how quick sailors move up the ranks — part career areas are much easier to soar v the ranks than others.

Confused? So space we. Only the navy knows just how the marine works. Castle literally speak a different language sometimes.

Keep in psychic that plenty of military tasks may no seem so military. Because that example, the Defense room has about 6,000 musicians on active duty. One Air pressure recruiter remarked the the air Force’s chief task is preserving planes. If one airman has actually to safeguard a base on the trip line, the stuff has actually hit the fan for the U.S. Forces in that area. But if you looking to feel choose the soldiers you watch in movies, then army combat arms might be the place for you.

When do the army your career, you might want to take into consideration going over to the other side: the officer’s side. Hopefully her recruiter has defined the two-tier ranking structure, and the differences in between officer and enlisted ranks, specifically when it concerns pay and opportunities. Going to the O-side when you’re currently enlisted have the right to be restrictive relying on which branch of organization you’re trying to acquire through. Just considering slim numbers, walk officer in the Navy and Air force would be much tougher than going in through huge Army.

Be certain to questioning a recruiter around that route. The human who desires to do a job in the military is their best recruit, after all.

Preparing because that the ASVAB

Believe that or not, authorized the army is not just something you can do top top a whim anymore. Though males still need to register because that Selective Service, the days of the draft are lengthy gone. A referee can’t offer you a selection between the army or jail time, and also walking into a recruiter’s office come hop top top a bus to boot camp is impossible. These days, you need to actually qualify because that the job you want in the military and also you might not even have the ability to choose her branch the service. It every starts with the ASVAB.

The armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery is both comparable to and also different from various other standardized tests favor the SAT and also ACT. Unlike its civilian counterparts, the ASVAB no a check you have the right to just ace. And no university cares about your ASVAB score. Her score identify what branches and jobs girlfriend have access to. Nobody cares around your ASVAB score past your recruiting office.

Remember that once you graduate from an easy training.

It’s really crucial to understand just what the check is trying come measure. An initial of all, it’s going to identify if a recruit is even eligible to enlist and there’s a for sure cutoff for every branch. This part is known as the equipped Forces Qualification check (or AFQT — get used to acronyms). That starts v two tiers based upon your education. It’s gonna be a lot easier to attain a minimum score if you graduated from high college versus having a GED, yet if you have actually at the very least 15 university credits, you’re taken into consideration a high institution graduate. For most branches, recruits with a GED will should score at the very least 50 to get into your branch of service, uneven that branch is the waiting Force. Then you need a 65.

For high institution graduates, the minimum AFQT score is much lower unless she joining the national Guard, in which case you still require a 50. The Army and also Marine Corps need at least a 31. To get in the Navy, you’ll need a 35. The Air pressure — often considered the “smart branch” — demands a 36. The coast Guard is actually the most daunting active service, inquiry at the very least a 45.

This score is based on a percentile and also how fine you do likewise depends in a way on exactly how others do. So while you have the right to never get a perfect score, a high score does open up up much more opportunities. If you score a 55 overall, the doesn’t mean you failed, it just way you scored better than 55 percent that the base population.

But the test doesn’t prevent at just a last score. This is “testception” — a check within a test. When you only take one test, you’re being graded on just how you carry out on every section and also composite scores of different combinations of sections for various specialty areas that identify your eligibility come take details military jobs. As soon as it prices anywhere from $18,000- $44,000 come train and equip a new recruit, Uncle Sam no willing to take it a hazard on someone who isn’t capable of law the job.

Most recruits are going to take the computerized test, which has nine subsections:

• Arithmetic Reasoning

• native Knowledge

• paragraph Comprehension

• math Knowledge

• basic Science

• electronic devices Information

• Automotive and also Shop Information

• mechanically Comprehension

• Assembling Objects

The first four locations comprise her AFQT score.

To make matters even much more confusing, various branches analyze the outcomes in various ways. If you desire to be a mechanic in the Army, the company will look at at exactly how well friend did ~ above the mechanically Comprehension, electronics Information, and Automotive and Shop information sections.

The naval Corps will look in ~ those three and also Assembling Objects section for the exact same job. Your recruiter will have the ability to tell girlfriend what her minimum AFQT score will certainly be for their branch as well as the composite score for your liked career field. Also scoring a 99 for the naval Corps will earn you a promo to Gunnery Sergeant.

Just kidding. Yet you will certainly wonder why you chose the Corps long after it’s also late to change.

You deserve to prepare for this check like any kind of other standardization tests with books and study guides, yet the best strategy is to do your finest while concentrating on the areas that will acquire you the score you need for the job you want. You’re no in direct competition with anyone but not scoring over a 50 may keep the recruiter from mirroring the same interest in you together they can have before.

Keep in mind this is every one test and sometime shortly prior to or shortly after, you’re going to have to do a duck to walk naked with a team of strangers if a very old man watches.

Don’t let the rattle you.

Getting that guarantee job

Believe it or not, there room still civilization who enter a recruiter’s office believing they have no say in what they perform in the military. That’s simply not true. Together a issue of fact, for an company as rigid and also structured as the military, potential recruits have actually an astonishing amount of persuade — it’s your future, ~ all.

Remember the military and the recruiter’s office is investing chin in you. Indigenous the minute you walk into their office native the minute you arrive at straightforward training, they are investing a far-reaching amount that time and also money in you. That in your ideal interest and theirs to make certain you acquire the job you want.

You still have to qualify for that job, though.

Just like determining whether you have to enlist in ~ all, choosing a job is important. Technological training for a brand-new skill is not only the very very first benefit of military service, the going to it is in the an initial four to eight years of the next phase of your life. It’s specifically important if the armed forces itself is going to be her career.

What qualifications you need all rely on the job you want and the branch you desire to join. Most recruiters are going to start with the ASVAB. If friend haven’t review our overview on the ASVAB, take it a minute to examine that out. We’ll wait.

So assuming you qualified because that the task you want on the ASVAB, there room still tasks that require additional qualifications. Because that some, this means you have to have over average vision. Others need you to be able to deadlift a particular amount the weight. Ask her recruiter what special demands your favored profession might need. However even if you do accomplish all the requirements, you still can not obtain the project you want. Welcome to military life. Adopt the suck.

Every recruiter is given a certain number of slots and also vacancies to to fill in a given month. If you desire to be an army cook however there space no cook vacancies open up that month, guess: v what? You’re not going to begin your journey as an army cook the month. The doesn’t average you never will, you simply won’t start best away. There are specific jobs recruiters to speak will always have vacancies. Air force recruiters will certainly tell friend the Air force enlisted corps is right here to maintain aircraft, so if you desire to maintain aircraft, there’s a an excellent chance you’ll obtain that gig best away. The same goes for countless Army and Marine Corps combat careers. If you desire a guaranteed project fast, walk for what the services constantly need. And also don’t worry, the recruiter will press you in that direction.

Another way to ship the end to an easy training in a hurry is to select an open slot quiet unfilled. If you are unsure which job to choose or because that some reason aren’t particular about what you’ll be doing in uniform for the next four to eight years, in some instances you can pick just to go together an open candidate in a chosen career path. As one recruiter said us, the doesn’t perform anyone any good to send a candidate to a job they hate. They’ll simply wash out or be terrible at it. And no one in their shop will want to job-related with them. You’ll choose the particular job or wide areas you choose on a list and also your recruiter will execute his or her ideal to get you the task you want. This is referred to as a “dream sheet.”

Don’t it is in surprised if friend don’t acquire the top selection on her dream sheet. You have to actually get used come not gaining the top choice on any kind of dream sheet, no matter which branch you go for.

If girlfriend don’t desire to ship out ASAP and you aren’t simply willing come take every little thing job Uncle Sam demands to fill — and also keep in mind, the Navy can make you an undesignated seaman, someone that basically filling in law unspecialized occupational wherever the ship needs it — you want a guaranteed project you’re officially qualified for, therefore don’t leaving the recruiter’s office without one.

Dealing with your recruiter

A recruiter is sort of like a salesman for his or she branch that service. But the first thing any type of recruiter will certainly tell you is the they’re no used vehicle salesmen and also they don’t must be. What they’re selling usually sell itself, think it or not. There space recruiters who need to turn civilization away.

No matter how tough the sell, a recruiter will certainly give new recruits their very first impression the the military and of their branch of service. Recruiters recognize that and you shouldn’t be apprehensive about walking in the door to their offices. If you want to join the military, they desire to have you.

One the the very first things you should know about the recruiter’s office is the you won’t be shipping out any time soon. Some civilization honestly think there’s a expedition to ft Jackson or Parris Island just waiting because that them in the recruiter’s parking lot. No wanting to leave appropriate away keeps a lot of of civilization from even approaching the building. The truth is, even in the busiest maritime Corps recruiting offices, 80 percent of the civilization who walk through their doors no qualified to be Marines, because that reasons ranging from education and learning to the Corps’ tattoo policy.

Once inside, you’re walking to take it a large step: starting the conversation. The recruiter will give you the overview of the enlistment process, ask for any type of information that might disqualify you appropriate away, and also then ask what you’re interested in. The ideal recruiters will tell girlfriend if their branch of company (or the armed forces in general) have the right to even assist you reach your goals. This is crucial step. This is her future so sit at attention and listen:

If you want to it is in a physician and already have a means to salary for medical school, then perhaps joining the navy isn’t because that you. However if you have no method to salary for medical school and also want to acquire some medical experience together a navy corpsman and use military benefits to walk to med school, that’s as soon as you must see a recruiter. Think that their project as one to help you reach her goals. Be great to them.

Conversely, that means they will carry out their best for you, however every recruiter has a different formula for maintaining on your recruits. As soon as you develop a professional relationship v a recruiter, collection the tone for those interactions by indicating simply how often you want to hear from them. Castle may check up on girlfriend via a phone call, however if girlfriend don’t want them at your home, you have to say so.

Recruiters from every branches admit that there room a couple of “bad apples” out there however most proud themselves ~ above professionalism. It’s tough to come to be a recruiter and some of the military’s finest troops space the ones getting to out to you. If one is pushy or overly aggressive, it’s because they think they’re putting the right civilization in the appropriate jobs, act what’s finest for their Air Force, naval Corps, army or Navy. You should recognize that you’re enabled to call this person to walk away or offer you part space.

The recruiter’s office isn’t a “Saw” movie. You have the right to walk out whenever you want.

You may encounter a recruiter who shows up in ~ your home or won’t protect against calling as soon as you to speak you’re not interested or girlfriend need more time to think. Or probably you want to join the military but you and your recruiter have personality clashes. This is not the only person who can put friend in the military. You deserve to ask to talk to someone else in the office. At worst you can choose an additional branch, if they market your preferred specialty. Friend can also just go to a various recruiting office. It’s her right.

Don’t permit one poor experience store you indigenous joining the military.

If you nothing have any problems v your recruiter and also joining the armed forces is absolutely for you, the biggest thing you should know around talking to her recruiter is the honesty is the best policy. As soon as your recruiter asks a question, answer truthfully, even if the fact hurts. This is her future and the recruiter is trying to find the best place because that you. If there’s a medical issue, crime issue, or various other pertinent issues relating to your enlistment, it’s simpler to take treatment of if friend tell the recruiter beforehand in the process.

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So if you’re wanted for unpaid parking ticket or you colorblind, speak up. The recruiter is here to assist you. MEPS is not the ar to carry up the reality that girlfriend really, yes, really love to smoke pot, it’s the place where we all lied about how lot we smoked.