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Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, stands at attention with Sailors at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Fountain during a dress whites inspection.

Getting Started

You’ve done your research. You’ve read up on America’s Navy, exploring this site and other recommended sites. Now you’re ready to take the next step.

Want to know how to join the Navy? 

Whether you’re looking to join as an Enlisted Sailor or Officer, the process is simple. Below, the steps are laid out for you – from talking to a recruiter to getting mom and dad on board to taking the Oath of Enlistment and moving on to your initial training.

Step 1: Talk to a Recruiter

At this point, it’s common to have questions about everything from qualifications and life in the Navy to benefits and career areas that have interested you. So it’s time to get answers by contacting a local recruiter. The recruiter will fill in any gaps and talk with you about available career options and education opportunities as well as any other points you wish to discuss.

A recruiter can also outline the different ways you can join the Navy

Step 2: Share With Family and Friends

The idea of joining the military can make loved ones uneasy. So be sure to talk to them about the Navy, its advantages and why joining will give you the opportunities of a lifetime. Introduce them to NAVYForMoms.com. This online community is a great place to share thoughts and questions with those who have loved ones serving in the Navy. Also, feel free to invite your recruiter to meet with your family. He or she can easily answer more detailed questions.

Step 3: Put in Your Application

Now it’s time to apply. But before you do, you’ll want to decide whether it’s an Enlisted or Officer position you want to pursue. That will factor into your decision to join right away, to complete school first, or to consider options to join now but not serve until after the Navy has helped you complete your education.

When you meet with your recruiter, he or she will help you fill out your application.

Step 4: Get Processed

Everyone who joins the military goes through the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). It's where applicants for military service go to complete the enlistment process. You'll be screened to make sure you meet the physical, academic and moral standards to serve in the Navy. That process includes testing for vocational aptitude, career counseling, physical exam, background screen and an oath of enlistment. 

To learn more about this process, you can visit the official MEPS website.

Step 5: Begin Training

It’s immensely important that every Sailor who serves in the Navy is at the top of their game within their career fields. So training is unparalleled, in-depth, hands-on and challenging. Depending on whether you’re being commissioned as an Enlisted Sailor or Officer, the training varies.  

Enlisted recruits head off to Boot Camp at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center north of Chicago, Illinois. It's a 7-9 week program that includes conditioning, marching, drilling, attending classes and weaponry. 

Officers attend either Officer Candidate School or Officer Development School. They are each program that last anywhere from 5 to 12 weeks. Once there, you'll be instructed on leadership, physical and military training, academics, military etiquette and other subjects, depending on your career track.

In short, that’s all you need to know to begin a Navy career filled with endless opportunities, generous benefits and the chance to make a difference in the world.

When exploring your options in the U.S. Navy, you may have a lot of questions. The first step to getting those questions answered is to talk to a Navy Recruiter. Watch this video to find out what you should know before meeting with a recruiter.

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A national TV commercial is shot aboard USS Nimitz off of the Pacific Ocean.
A national TV commercial is shot aboard USS Nimitz off of the Pacific Ocean.