- For someone who wants to join the US Army, the first step is calling a local recruiting office.
- The path to enlistment includes an aptitude exam, medical screening, and career counseling – all before taking an oath or making a commitment.
- Once enlisted, recruits head off to basic combat training, the Army’s boot camp.
The Army also has options for those who want to serve as commissioned officers. Which option is best depends on your education level, where you want to go to school, and your age or family status.
Enlistees can also join the Army Reserves or Army National Guard directly.
First, you’ll need to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB.
The ASVAB is a multiple-choice exam that will help determine what jobs you qualify for in the military. Each service has its own minimum standards, according to Military.com, which provides practice tests for those who want to prepare.
You’ll eventually meet with a recruiter.
If you’re not sure where your nearest recruiting station is, you can submit an application online, and the recruiter will come to you.
Otherwise, it’s important to remember a few things when you’re at the office:
You have no obligations until you sign a contract.
Make sure you understand whether the job you want has openings – if not, you may want to consider waiting until it does.
You’ll eventually need to pass a medical exam.
Once you decide to enlist, the recruiter will take you to a Military Entrance Processing Station, or MEPS.
If you haven’t taken the ASVAB already, you’ll take one when you get to the MEPS.
If you have, you’ll undergo a medical exam, speak with a counselor about job opportunities and the enlistment contract, and take the enlistment oath.
Boot Camp, or Basic Combat Training, has three phases.
After “reception week,” recruits enter Red phase – basic tactical training and Army heritage and tradition are hallmarks of this phase, as is the physical-fitness test. This phase is meant to break down individual recruits’ confidence in order to train them to work as unit during the next phase.
Next, they enter White phase, where they will start to rebuild confidence and learn marksmanship and combat training.
The last step is Blue phase, during which they will be trained to use weapons like grenades and machine guns and conduct field training and 10- and 15-kilometer marches.
Once they graduate, they will move on to advanced training in their specific job fields.
If you’re applying for a ROTC scholarship or admission to the Military Academy at West Point, the process starts online.
You’ll apply for West Point on the academy’s admissions page. Once you submit a questionnaire, you’ll be assigned a candidate number to finish the process.
Requirements to enter the academy are slightly higher than they are to enlist. Competitive SAT or ACT scores are a must, as are a physical-fitness exam and recommendations from teachers or counselors at your high school.
You’ll interview with an academy alumnus and also have to complete a separate application process for a nomination, usually by a senator or congressional representative.
Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).
ROTC scholarships may be awarded to high-school students who wish to pursue a four-year degree at a civilian college.
The Army’s service obligation after graduation is four years on active duty and four years in the Army Reserves. Under some circumstances, like a lack of active-duty billets, students can go straight into the reserves. (Candidates can also enlist directly into the Army Reserve.)
Officer Candidate School (OCS).
OCS is meant for enlisted service members or civilians who already hold a four-year degree and want to become a commissioned officer.
The Army holds this 12-week leadership and tactical training course at Ft. Benning, Georgia.