Whether you are looking for money to pay for college, want a rewarding and challenging career path, or simply feel the need to serve your country – you probably want to know how to join the army. The US Army is a key branch of the US Armed Forces which works in cooperation with the US Department of Defense. The army is responsible for training Soldiers and leaders to respond whenever and wherever they are needed on land. There are many different opportunities and career paths in the Army; here is what you need to know about how and why you should join the Army:
Become an Army Soldier
There is no doubt about it – becoming a soldier is extremely challenging, but it is also extremely rewarding. You will not come out of the process the same person you were going in; you will change for the better! There are three steps in the process for joining the United States Army:
1) Talk to a Recruiter
When you talk to an Army recruiter, you can talk about the specifics of your Army career. You’ll figure out what length of army service you might be interested in, whether you are interested in Active Duty or the Army Reserve, and what type of military jobs best complement your skills and goals for the future. During these planning sessions with a recruiter, you will learn about eligibility requirements for joining the US Army and whether or not you meet the criteria.
2) Attend Basic Combat Training (BCT)
Once you and your recruiter have figured out your path, you will begin your ten week Basic Combat Training course. This is the process that will change you from an ordinary civilian into an Army Soldier. It is during these intense weeks that you learn how to work together with your fellow soldiers, the Seven Core Army Values, and how to be successful in the US Army.
There are four main phases of BCT: Red, White, Blue, and Graduation. The Red Phase begins right after reception week, with a focus on teamwork during beginning field exercises. During the White Phase, new recruits begin developing the confidence necessary to be a successful Soldier and learn new skills involving weapons and rappelling exercises. In the Blue Phase of Basic Combat Training, Soldiers further their weapon training and begin a Night Infiltration Course, which leads into BCT Graduation.
3) Attend Advanced Individual Training (AIT)
When your Basic Combat Training is complete, you will move on to Advanced Individual Training, which is basically college education and preparation for your Army job. You will receive field instruction and hands-on training in the military job of your choice at one of the AIT schools. By the time you complete your AIT, you will be an expert in your career field.
Requirements to Join the Army
If you want to join the Army, you will need to meet certain requirements for eligibility that include being over the minimum age and under the maximum age for enlistment, minimum education requirements, and citizenship requirements:
Age Requirements: For the Army, the minimum age to join without parental consent is 18 years old, with the maximum age for joining 35 years old. If you have consent of your parents, you can enlist in the Army at the age of 17.
Education Requirements: You will need a high school diploma to join the Army. In some cases, a GED can be substituted for a diploma – talk to your recruiter for details.
Citizenship Requirements: People who are US Citizens or Permanent Resident Aliens with a Green Card are eligible to join the US Military, but each branch has its own enlistment requirements regarding citizenship. Your Army recruiter can help you determine your eligibility.
Should You Join the Army Reserve?
When you join the Army, you have the choice of choosing Active Duty or the Army Reserve. Army Reserve Soldiers receive all the same training as our Active Duty soldiers, and a wide variety of benefits for education, retirement, health care and family life. The Army Reserve trains close to home, continuing their career or education, so they are ready if they are called into service.
There are more than 150 military jobs (Military Occupational Specialties) available to The Army Reserve. You can work in information technology, homeland security, law enforcement, psychological operations, and a variety of other fields that further both your civilian and military careers.
Eligibility for the Army Reserve is similar to that of the Army, including meeting minimum and maximum age requirements and citizenship eligibility requirements. You will also need to be in good health and physical condition and good moral standing. Some Army Reserve jobs may have additional qualifications for eligibility, which your Army recruiter will discuss with you during your planning sessions.