JOINING THE NAVY IF YOU HAVEN'T SERVED BEFORE

If you have never served in the military before, joining the Navy will be an exciting adventure that unveils vast personal and professional opportunities. You can customize your career by choosing which path is right for you:

  • Enlisted Sailor or Officer
  • Full-time Active Duty service
  • Part-time Reserve Duty service as a Reservist

Contact a Recruiter to explore your options and get help making a decision.

Officer or Enlisted video

Qualifications & Commitment

ACTIVE DUTY ENTRY REQUIREMENTS FOR NEW SERVICEMEMBERS

To join the Navy, you must meet basic entry and program-specific requirements, and you must commit to serve a defined amount of time. If you’re new to the military, you must meet the following Active Duty service requirements:

AGE

To serve as an Enlisted Sailor, you must be between the ages of 17-39. If you are not yet 18, you must have parental consent. To serve as an Officer, you must be between the ages of 19-35, depending on which program you wish to join. Waivers are sometimes granted for positions that are in high demand.

CITIZENSHIP

To serve as an Enlisted Sailor, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Or have entered the country on a permanent residence visa or have an Alien Registration Green Card and have:
    1. Established a bona fide residence
    2. Established a home of record in the United States.

To serve as an Officer, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen

FAMILY

You can enlist or join the Navy if you are a single parent; but note, the Navy will normally not allow you to enlist or join if you have more than two dependents under the age of 18.

FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS

In certain cases, you must prove that you can meet your current financial obligations.

EDUCATION

Typically you must be a high school graduate, have earned a GED or have met other high school equivalency requirements to enlist as a Sailor in the Navy. To become an Officer, you must have received a four-year BS or BA degree from an accredited university and have strong grades.

DRUG/ALCOHOL POLICY

The Navy has a zero tolerance drug/alcohol policy. Early in the enlistment or commissioning process, you will take a urinalysis test, you’ll also be asked questions about prior drug and alcohol use and you must answer honestly.

MEDICAL/LEGAL/MORAL STANDARDS

The Navy also applies medical, legal and character standards to your application, including traffic offense history, criminal history, citizenship status and more.

BASIC OBLIGATIONS

When deciding whether to serve in the Navy, you should consider some basic obligations, such as time commitment and training.

SERVICE COMMITMENT

The amount of time you are required to serve on Active Duty depends upon many factors, including your interests, background, pursuit of an Officer or Enlisted position, or whether or not you are taking advantage of Navy education opportunities.

  • Enlisted positions typically require an initial service commitment of four years, but positions involving longer-term training may involve longer service obligations
  • Officer positions typically require an initial service commitment of three to five years, but positions involving longer-term training may involve longer service obligations

ENLISTED BASIC TRAINING

If you’ve never served in the military before and are entering as an Enlisted Sailor, you will need to first attend Recruit Training, which is also known as Boot Camp.

OFFICER TRAINING

Unless you're entering as an Officer through certain college programs - specifically the Naval Academy or NROTC - you will need to attend an Officer training course, known as Officer Candidate School (OCS) or Officer Development School (ODS). Depending on your career path, you may also attend additional specialty schooling.

RESERVE ENTRY REQUIREMENTS FOR NEW SERVICEMEMBERS

Joining the Navy Reserve requires its own set of unique qualifications and time commitment for people who have never served before in the military.

CITIZENSHIP

In order to join the Navy Reserve, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, U.S. naturalized citizen or a legal permanent resident alien of the United States
  • Foreigners must first legally immigrate and then apply for and receive a permanent residency green card prior to enlistment.

To be a commissioned Officer in the Navy Reserve, you must:

  • Be a native or naturalized U.S. citizen.
  • Meet the mental, moral and physical standards for Navy service

AGE

The general age requirement for the Navy Reserve is that you must be between the ages of 18-39 and be able to have 20 years of total service by age 60.

HEALTH AND HEIGHT

You must pass a physical exam to qualify for entrance. The height requirement for both men and women is between 60 and 80 inches.

EDUCATION

For Enlisted personnel, the minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent is required. For Officers, a degree from a four-year college or university is required.

BASIC OBLIGATIONS

Serving in the Navy Reserve traditionally requires a minimum of one weekend a month (drilling) and two weeks a year (annual training). Most of your training can be arranged to take place close to home so you don't have to relocate.

DRILLING

Your regular training typically amounts to 16 hours each month at a nearby training site. There are hundreds of locations across the U.S. that offer flexible drilling options, which could involve fulfilling the annual commitment in a single extended mission or serving on weekdays if your civilian career makes weekend service difficult.

ANNUAL TRAINING

For at least two weeks each year, you will take part in advanced training that can take you across the U.S. or around the globe. This is typically a command exercise with your drilling Reserve detachment, but you may also have opportunities to pursue independent assignments that broaden your experience.

SERVICE COMMITMENT

If you've never served before, obligations in the Navy Reserve typically range from two to eight years, with opportunities for additional service and pay. Some high-demand Officer programs may offer initial commitment terms as few as two years.

ENLISTED BASIC TRAINING

If you’ve never served in the military before and are entering as an Enlisted Sailor, you will need to first attend Recruit Training, also known as Boot Camp.

OFFICER TRAINING

If you are entering as an Officer, you will need to first attend Direct Commission Officer (DCO) School. Depending on your career field, you may also attend additional specialty schooling.