For thousands of young American men and women, serving in the military has long been a path to both social and economic mobility. Military service is a great way to see the world while learning valuable skills that can be transferred to civilian life. And, there are many benefits to military service; many individuals would not have otherwise had the opportunity to get a college degree or purchase a home without their decision to join the military. And, veterans who opt not to go to college are more likely to earn more than civilians who do the same.
- Joining the military offers you a chance to serve your country, make a career in the service, and/or earn money toward a future college education. You’ll also earn valuable work experience that can you can apply to civilian jobs once you get discharged. Read more here: Today’s Military.
- Split-option enlistment -- As a junior in high school, you can enlist in the Army National Guard and not interrupt your high school education. You start by attending basic training the summer after your junior year. You will return home in time for your senior year in the fall.
Keep in mind that the services offer two basic ways of joining:
- Standard enlistment:
sign up and get started immediately
- Delayed entry:
sign up but postpone joining the military for a certain period (up to a year in most cases). Individual services also may offer other options, so check with your local recruiters for the latest options.
- A salary that is on par with what a new college grad makes ($30-$45K).
- Free health care for you and your family.
- Little-to-no living costs, meaning you can save money faster.
- Tuition is paid for while in service, should you decide to earn a degree at some point. (You have a variety of online learning options, and many military bases have satellite classrooms of prominent colleges so you never even have to leave post.) You can also take advantage of the GI Bill once your active service is complete, and get at least portions of your education paid for, depending on your time on active duty.
- Travel the world – while certainly not the point of military service, this is a benefit that shouldn’t be ignored.
- 30 days of vacation per year. The average for folks with 20+ years of service in the American civilian workforce is only 17 vacation days.
- Retirement, with benefits, after 20 years of service. For an 18-year-old, that means you can retire at 38. While you likely won’t live off those benefits for the rest of your life, you’ll have much less to worry about financially.
- Must be 18 to join, without parental consent. You can be 17 when enrolling if you have parental consent.
- Must be a US resident (includes territories like Guam and Puerto Rico).
- A high school degree is not required, but is strongly desired. GEDs are sometimes acceptable as well.
- Pass the ASVAB Test – tests your comprehension in various categories like science, language, technical skills, mechanical skills, etc. It helps in assigning career roles within the military. The different branches have different passing scores for this test.
- Pass a physical. Each branch has different requirements for height, weight, and body fat. You are also tested for various physical ailments that could handicap your service.
- What is the ASVAB?
The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a multiple-aptitude battery that measures developed abilities and helps predict future academic and occupational success in the military. It is administered annually to more than one million military applicants, high school, and post-secondary students.
- If you're serious about joining the military, then think about taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).
- Want to take the ASVAB? Check out the ASVAB website for sample questions, prep, and information.