Military Eligibility Requirements

military-eligibility-requirementsThe military departments have the absolute right to reject any individual for any reason it deems appropriate. The military is not a program formed to create jobs. It is a serious business involving the security of the United States of America and our country’s national interests.

Congress and the courts have supported that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ensures all individuals are treated equally before the law with respect to civilian employment, does not apply to the United States military branches. Seven major Supreme Court decisions have supported this decision.

The military does not accept everyone who wants to join. You must be qualified under current federal laws and regulations and/or you must receive an approved waiver for the condition which may make you disqualified.

Rules and regulations can be confusing because they differ for enlisting programs and for officer programs.

  • Enlisting Programs: Enlisted members do the hands-on work of the military and they need at least a high school degree.  A GED may or may not be enough to be eligible for entrance. 
  • Officer Programs: Officers are the managers of the military. Most officer programs require a college degree and are very competitive to get into. Many officers have a masters and/or higher degree.

While the five service branches have similar entrance requirements, each has its own eligibility standards based on the amount and type of recruits needed. Below are a list of requirements that apply to all branches of the United States Military.


Minimum entrance-age requirements are 17 with parental consent or 18 without parental consent. Almost all 18 to 25 year old male U.S. citizens and aliens living within the United States are required to register with Selective Service. Each branch of the Service has different requirements when it comes to the maximum entrance-age requirement.


Due to the varying physical demands on members in each branch of the United States Military, physical requirements vary greatly from branch to branch. These differences can vary even within each branch of the Service. Potential service members should be in good physical condition, of appropriate weight and need to be able to pass a standard physical screening prior to entry.


Success in any branch of the Military depends on a good education, and a high school diploma is most desirable. Candidates with a GED (General Education Development certificate) can enlist, but some Services may limit opportunities. It is very difficult to be considered a serious candidate without either a high school diploma or accepted alternative credential.


U.S. citizens or Permanent Resident Aliens (people who have an INS I-151/I-551 “Green Card”) may join the United States Military. Properly documented non-citizens may enlist, but opportunities may be limited. For enlistment and admission purposes, the United States includes Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Marianas Islands, American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau.

Specific Enlistment Requirements

Each branch of the military service has different enlistment requirements. Use the links below to learn more about specific branch requirements:

  • Air Force Requirements
  • Army Requirements
  • Coast Guard Requirements
  • Marines Requirements
  • Navy Requirements

When you are considered a career in the military you need to take the ASVAB test. But each branch of the military has different ASVAB requirements that you need to meet. They are different levels of education that you must reach to take the test. But you also need to score a certain amount of points on that ASVAB test to gain access into the branch you desire.

For the Air Force you will pretty much be looking at having at least a high school diploma. They do not accept that many people who have received a GED. But if you have scored at least a 65 on that ASVAB and have a GED you may be able to get into this branch. But with a high school diploma the minimum score you can have is 36 points.

With the Army they allow a lot more people who only have a GED. In fact they allow the most of any of the branches of service with only a GED but you still do need to take the ASVAB test too. The Army Prep School is another option to someone who does not have a GED or diploma to get into this service. Minimum requirements for the ASVAB test is a 31, but they also have allowed people into the ranks with scores that were around 26 too.

Another branch you may be considering is the Marines, where you are going to need a score of 32 on the ASVAB. But they may actually take a few people who score lower, around a 25 in some cases, but that is hard to get completed. Only allowing about 5 percent of those people who have a GED into this rank is another thing you have to get by.

In other words if you only have a GED you will need to get a 50 as a minimum on that ASVAB. It just goes to show you that having a high school diploma is almost a must to join up with the Marine Corps. This is the same requirement that is set by the Navy for those who only have a GED.

The minimum score you need on an ASVAB test for the Navy is a 35, but in a few instances they may let people in who have only gotten a 31. But they make it a bit harder on those who only have a GED, and have gotten at least a 50 on the test. Those people need to get three references from people in the community that are influential, and have not previous drug use or involvement with the police.

Your last option would be a trip to the Coast Guard, as long as you have a score of at least 40 on the ASVAB and a high school diploma you should make it. They do make a few exceptions on those scores with a waiver and depending on the job you are hoping to do.

Yes you can again possibly join the Coast Guard with only a GED, but you will need to score another 10 points minimum on that ASVAB too.

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