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Military Options

Each year more than 200,000 men and women join the United States 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.

To join the military, and find out what your job choices are, you have to take the ASVAB assessment. You can take the ASVAB in 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. Talk to your school counselor if you're interested in taking the ASVAB.

Basic Enlistment Requirements

  • At least 17 years old,
  • A U.S. citizen or legal resident,
  • Possess an Immigration and Naturalization Service Alien Registration Card (“Green Card”),
  • Speak English fluently,
  • And have a high school diploma.

Signing Up

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.

Pay & Benefits

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 can qualify for retirement. In addition, there are tuition assistance programs available while on active duty. Qualified service members can receive more than $70,000 in tuition benefits.

Enlisted & Officers

The military distinguishes between enlisted and officer careers. Enlisted personnel make up about 83% of the Armed Forces and carry out the fundamental operations of the military.

Officers make up the remaining 17% and are leaders of the military, supervising and managing activities in every occupational specialty in the military.

Common Tasks for Enlisted 

  • 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

Go to Join the Military and Careers in The Military to learn more.

Note: Even if you are not considering a career in the military, registration with the Selective Service System is required by law for men 18-25. It is the first part of a fair and equitable system that, if authorized by the President and Congress, would rapidly provide personnel to the Department of Defense while at the same time providing for an Alternative Service Program for conscientious objectors.