Are You Eligible to Join the Military?

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Reviewing answers on ASVAB practice test
Builder 2nd Class Brantly Honeycutt, right, and Construction Electrician Constructionman Ping Tang, left, of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11, Construction Civic Action Detail (CCAD) review answers after a practice test during an Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) tutoring session. (Builder 1st Class Garnett Whitmire/U.S. Navy)

Eligibility rules can be a little confusing. There are different rules for enlisting and for officer programs.

Enlisting: Enlisted members do the hands-on work of the military. They need at least a high school degree; a GED may not suffice.

Officer: Officers are the managers of the military. Most officer programs require a college degree at minimum and are very competitive. Many officers have master's or higher degrees.

Before you visit your local recruiter, be sure you meet the minimum qualifications for serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Some qualifications are required by all five services:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien.
  • You must be at least 17 years old (17-year-old applicants require parental consent).
  • You must (with very few exceptions) have a high school diploma.
  • You must pass a physical medical exam.

For each branch, there are slightly different enlistment requirements:

To join the... You must:
Air Force
  • Be between the ages of 17-39
  • Have no more than two dependents.
  • Pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. (Minimum AFQT score: 36)
Army
  • Be between the ages of 17-35
  • Have no more than two dependents.
  • Pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. (Minimum AFQT score: 31)
Coast Guard
  • Be between the ages of 17-27
  • Have no more than two dependents.
  • Pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. (Minimum AFQT score: 40)
  • Have a willingness to serve on or around the water.
Marines
  • Meet exacting physical, mental and moral standards.
  • Be between the ages of 17-28
  • Pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. (Minimum AFQT score: 32)
Navy
  • Be between the ages of 17-34
  • Pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. (Minimum AFQT score: 35)

Age limits vary based on active-duty, previous service or reserve. In addition, 17-year-old applicants require parental consent.

Interested in Joining the Military?

We can put you in touch with recruiters from the different military branches. Learn about the benefits of serving your country, paying for school, military career paths, and more: sign up now and hear from a recruiter near you.

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