There are two primary roles in every branch of the military. The first, and most popular route is by enlisting. The requirements from branch to branch are largely the same, with the exception of test scoring and slight age requirements.┬áThe other option is going in as an officer. The duties of an enlisted individual will be completely different than that of an officer. For the sake of simplicity, think of enlisted fulfilling more of the hands-on responsibilities of any given job, while an officer will act as the supervisor of that task, as well as being the one held responsible for that job’s completion.

The following qualifications will apply to enlistees only, as officers have nominally different requirements.

The minimum age for joining the military is 17 years old for all branches of the military. While this is good news for anyone looking forward to finishing up high school, or completing his or her GED, a 17 year old enlistee must have parental consent. As you might expect, anyone over the age of 18 may sign on without it.

A few other basic qualifications to keep in mind are:

  • You have to be a United States citizen, or an alien resident. Many jobs within the military will demand a potentially extensive background check. Make sure you, your parents, or guardian have all necessary documentation proving the legitimacy of your residence. (Birth certificate, social security card, USCIS green card, etc.) Without this documentation, you risk not only losing the ability to acquire your ideal military job, but possibly even your ability to join the military entirely. At best, the process just takes longer! Needless to say, getting all of the paperwork ironed out will smooth out the entrance process.
  • As previously mentioned, be sure to have to have your high school diploma, or GED certificate handy as well. If you’re still in high school, it’s possible to get quite a bit of your military entrance process taken care while you wrap up your last year of school. Speak to your local recruiter regarding what else can be done to get the ball rolling.

On the other hand, if you did not complete high school, but are still wanting to join the military, it may be possible, in very rare situations to have that qualification waved. The purpose, of course to a HS diploma/GED requirement to maintain a certain standard of competence/intelligence within the military. It’s the norm for a good reason, but as with many things in the military, if certain conditions are met, waivers can be sought out by talking to the right people.

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