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Military Careers

Each year more than 200,000 men and women join the United State Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, or Navy. More than 4,100 different jobs are available in the military for both enlisted personnel and officers in 800 different occupations. Eighty-eight percent of these jobs have direct civilian job-a-likes making the United States Military a good career option to consider.

In order to join the military and find out what job choices you have, you must take the ASVAB assessment. The ASVAB is available yearly at many high schools for 10th, 11th, and 12th graders. Talk to your school counselor if you are interested.

Basic Enlistment Requirements

  • at least 17 years of age,
  • a U.S. citizen or legal resident,
  • possess an Immigration and Naturalization Service Alien Registration Card (“Green Card”),
  • speak English fluently,
  • and be a high school graduate.

If you decide to join the military, you will go through between 6 and 13 weeks of basic training. You may then go to an advanced training school or be assigned directly to the field in the United States or around the world.

Before signing any contract for military service, discuss the terms of the contract with your parent or guardian and school counselor. Be sure to carefully research and evaluate whether the military is right for you.

Military pay can be comparable to civilian pay based on number of years in the service, rank, and level of education. Service members receive thirty days of vacation per year, free room and board, free medical and dental benefits, travel opportunities, and qualify for retirement benefits after twenty years of service. In addition, there are tuition assistance programs available while on active duty. Qualified service members can receive more than $70,000 in tuition benefits.

The military distinguishes between enlisted and officer careers. Enlisted personnel make up about 83 percent of the Armed Forces and carry out the fundamental operations of the military. Officers make up the remaining 17 percent and are leaders of the military, supervising and managing activities in every occupational specialty in the military.

Common Tasks for Enlisted Personnel 

  • Participate in combat operations
  • Operate, maintain, and repair equipment
  • Serve as technicians and specialists in a variety of fields
  • Serve as front-line supervisors of junior enlisted personnel

Common Tasks for Officers

  • Lead troops in ground combat operations
  • Serve as supervisors and managers of enlisted personnel
  • Operate and control aircraft, ships, or armored vehicles
  • Serve as professionals for the military in medical, legal, engineering, and other fields

Visit Join the Military and Careers in The Military to learn more about military careers.