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How to Join the U.S. Army

Three Parts:Meeting The RequirementsJoining The U.S. ArmyAttending Basic Training

Joining the United States Army can be a challenging and rewarding experience, granting you valuable skill sets and allowing you to serve your country. Before you visit your local recruiting office, you should become familiar with the entire process so that you can make an informed choice regarding your entrance into the U.S. Army.

Part 1
Meeting The Requirements

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    Consider the commitment. Joining the U.S. Army can bring with it many rewards and benefits. However, you will be required to make a serious and long-term commitment upon your enrollment. Consider the nature of this commitment before pursuing enrollment with the U.S. Army.[1]
    • Many positions will require that you serve for four years actively and two years inactively.
    • You will be required to relocate.
    • Getting out of your contract will likely be very difficult. Be certain the U.S. Army is right for you before enrolling.
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    Learn the Army's mission. Before joining the U.S. Army, you will want to fully consider the commitment that you will be making. Beyond meeting the general requirements, you will need to understand and uphold the mission of the U.S. Army. Read over the official and legal U.S. Army mission statement to make sure you are ready to uphold and meet these goals:[2]
    • ”Preserve the peace and security and provide for the defense of the United States, the Commonwealths and possessions, and any areas occupied by the United States”
    • ”Support the national policies”
    • ”Implement the national objectives”
    • ”Overcome any nations responsible for aggressive acts that imperil the peace and security of the United States”
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    Meet the basic requirements. The U.S. Army will require that certain basic personal criteria be met before you can officially join. The requirements will help ensure that you are physically, mentally, and legally able to fit well with the needs of the U.S. Army. Review the following necessary criteria that you will need to meet before joining:[3][4]
    • Must be a U.S. citizen or have been issued a Green Card.
    • Must be in good health.
    • Be between 17 and 34 years of age. If you are 17 years old, you'll need parental consent.
    • Must have obtained your high school diploma. However, some branches will accept a GED.
    • Be able to take and pass the The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery(ASVAB) test with a minimum score of 31.
    • Should have no serious criminal record.
    • Waivers may be available for these criteria.
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    Make contact. After you have made your decision to join the U.S. Army, you will need to begin making contact. Speaking with a representative of the U.S. Army will allow you to better understand your options and fully commit to joining if you feel it's the right choice for you.[5]
    • For active duty or reserve positions call 1-800-USA-ARMY (1-800-872-2769).
    • For positions in the U.S. Army National Guard call 1-800-GO-GUARD (1-800-464-8273).
    • You can also make contact on-line at,, or

Part 2
Joining The U.S. Army

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    Talk with a recruiter. After making initial contact, you will work with your recruiter to learn more about your potential options in the U.S. Army. Your recruiter will help you with the process of joining the U.S. Army making sure you meet the qualifications, helping you find a position that fits your aptitudes well, and moving you towards basic training. Keep some of the following tips in mind when meeting with your recruiter:[6]
    • Prepare your documents. For example, have ready your social security card, driver's license, high school diploma, medical documents, birth certificate or other important documents.
    • Be honest with your recruiter about medical and legal histories.
    • If you have a job or career in mind, let your recruiter know.
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    Select your career path. The U.S. Army has a large offering of jobs that are made available to those who enroll and meet the necessary requirements. Before you speak with your recruiter, you should review the many jobs available and choose one that you would like to pursue. Knowing what you are interested in can help yourself and your recruiter get you started on the right track.[7]
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    Take the ASVAB. Once you meet with your recruiter, you will be required to take the ASVAB test if you have not done so already. The ASVAB or Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery will determine your skills and abilities as well as determine if you are eligible for enrollment in the U.S. Army. Try to take practice ASVAB tests on-line to determine which areas of the test you might need to study for and help you to prepare for the actual test.[8]
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    Review your contract. After speaking with your recruiter and discussing your options and plans for your time in the U.S. Army, you will need to review your contract. Carefully examine your contract to make sure the information is correct and everything is included within it. If the contract is one that meets your needs you can sign it to finalize your enrollment and signify that you are ready for basic training.[9]
    • Do not be afraid to make changes to your contract.
    • Do not sign your contract until you are satisfied by its terms.
    • Talk over any issues with your contract that you might have with your recruiter.

Part 3
Attending Basic Training

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    Learn the phases of basic training. Basic training is broken up into five stages and you will need to complete all five in order to proceed in the U.S. Army. Knowing what the stages are and how long they last can help you prepare for them. Take a minute to review the main stages of basic training in the U.S. Army:[10]
    • Reception Battalion will get your paper work finalized, allow you to take your physical fitness tests, and let you start learning teamwork and U.S. Army values.
    • The Red Phase will focus on teaching you the core Army values, how to care for your M16, engaging in fitness training and hand-to-hand combat techniques. This phase lasts for two weeks.
    • The White Phase will focus on combat skills that involve marksmanship and physical training. This phase lasts for one week.
    • The Blue Phase will build tactical skills, leadership, self-discipline and teamwork. This phase lasts for three weeks.
    • The final phase is graduation. After a 15km hike you will be given a day to spend with your family before graduating onto your new training post.
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    Get ready to move. Basic training will require you to relocate to a specific training center. These locations will provide you with the full course of basic training that is offered by the U.S. Army. Examine the following locations to learn where you may be required to report to for your basic training:[11]
    • Fort Benning, Ga.
    • Fort Jackson, S.C.
    • Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
    • Fort Sill, Okla.
    • Fort Knox, Ky
    • Female recruits must attend basic training at either Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., Fort Sill, Okla., or Fort Jackson S.C..
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    Attend basic training. Basic training will give you the skills and knowledge that every enlisted member of the U.S. Army is required to posses. You will be challenged mentally and physically during your basic training. Successfully completing basic training will be your last step before starting your new life as a U.S. Army soldier.[12]
    • It is a good idea to start training early. Consider taking up a physical fitness practice before leaving for basic training.
    • Basic training will last for 10 weeks.


  • Take your time considering if the U.S. Army is right for you.
  • Start your physical training early to get an edge.
  • Research jobs that the U.S. Army offers and speak to your recruiter about the ones you are interested in.
  • Don't sign your contract until you are fully satisfied with its terms.
  • Be ready to relocate.
  • Have important identifying documents ready when you visit the recruiter's office.

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Categories: Careers in the Military