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Requirements to Join

Desktop display image of U.S. Navy recruits stand in group formations wearing formal attire

REQUIREMENTS TO BECOME A SAILOR

To join the Navy, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be between the ages of 17 and 39 to enlist or be between 19 and 42 to become an Officer*
  • Have a high school diploma or GED equivalent (Enlisted) or have a four-year degree from an accredited university (Officer)
  • Have a qualifying score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test (Enlisted) or the Officer Aptitude Rating (OAR) and Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB) (Officer)
  • Pass the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) medical exam
  • Meet the physical, mental and moral standards of the Navy

*If you are not yet 18, you need parental consent to join.

Contact a recruiter to request more information about basic requirements.

How Do I Join?

Enlisted

Icon of navy recruiter, enlisted sailor

 

First, contact a recruiter or request more information for answers to basic questions about joining.

 

icon of navy military entrance processing station

 

With your recruiter, report to a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). Here you will take the ASVAB and undergo a physical exam.

 

icon for navy asvab armed services vocational aptitude battery

 

Speak with a career counselor about which Navy job is right for you based on your physical qualifications and ASVAB score.

 

icon of enlisted Navy Sailor

 

Take the Oath of Enlistment and receive orders for Recruit Training Command (RTC), also known as boot camp.

 

Officer

Icon of U.S. Navy officerThere are many avenues to becoming a Naval Officer. You can become an Officer through the United States Naval Academy (USNA), Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC), or Officer Training Command (OTC). OTC includes Officer Candidate School (OCS) and Officer Development School (ODS). To determine which route is best for you and explore available career paths contact a Navy Officer recruiter.

Questions About Joining?

What Are the Physical Requirements?

As a branch of the American military tasked to defend our nation’s freedom, Sailors must be able to pull their own weight. The Navy’s physical requirements are measured through the Navy Physical Readiness Test (PRT), which consists of pushups, situps and running. Your overall score must amount to 60 points. Learn more about how PRTs are scored.

Requirements are adjusted based on age and gender. For example, as a minimum requirement to pass the PRT at boot camp, you must complete: 

MEN 17-19

  • 50 situps in 2 minutes
  • 42 pushups in 2 minutes
  • 1.5 mile run in 12:30

WOMEN 17-19

  • 50 situps in 2 minutes
  • 19 pushups in 2 minutes
  • 1.5 mile run in 15:30

For more detailed information, contact a recruiter  or read more here. Sailors who receive a “Satisfactory” grade in their PRT may also receive enlistment bonus compensation. 

What Are the Health Requirements?

All Sailors must meet the weight requirements based on their corresponding height. If the requirement is not met, an abdominal circumference and body mass index (BMI) measurement will be taken. Please see the chart for your information. 

Height (in.)

MALE

Max. Standard Weight (lbs.)

FEMALE

Max. Standard Weight (lbs.)

57

127

127

58

131

131

59

136

136

60

141

141

61

145

145

62

150

149

63

155

152

64

160

156

65

165

160

66

170

163

67

175

167

68

181

170

69

186

174

70

191

177

71

196

181

72

201

185

73

206

189

74

211

194

75

216

200

76

221

205

77

226

211

78

231

216

79

236

222

80

241

227

 

Some medical conditions such as contagious diseases, conditions that limit mobility, geographic placements or performance may disqualify you from service. Learn more about medical parameters by contacting your local recruiter.

 
 

Do I Have to Know How to Swim?

Whether you’re a skilled swimmer or have never swum a stroke, you’re welcome in the Navy.  Part of Navy boot camp is the swim test. Many Sailors join the Navy without knowing how to swim, but instructors at boot camp are trained to teach you everything you’ll need to know before the test. The test consists of three events: a jump into a pool, a 50-yard swim and a prone float for five minutes.

 

What About Tattoos?

The Navy has the most accepting tattoo policy of any military branch. In fact, Sailors have a long history of getting tattoos to symbolize milestones within their Navy careers. 

  • Sailors can have full-sleeve tattoos
  • Sailors are permitted to have a single tattoo on their neck no larger than 1 inch (a single neck tattoo greater than 1 inch that cannot be seen when viewing a person from the front must be submitted to Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, for approval prior to enlistment)
  • Sailors are not permitted to have any tattoos on their scalps, faces or ears
  • Offensive, racist, extremist and sexist tattoos are not allowed
U.S. Navy Sailors proudly display their tattoos including forearm, full arm sleeve, bicep, and knuckles
 

What About My Hair and Beard?

Grooming standards in the Navy exist to promote neatness, cleanliness and safety. 

Men are expected to keep their hair short and neat. 

A religious accommodation request can be submitted for personnel to wear a beard.

There is no requirement for women to cut their hair short. Short hair is permitted to be worn down if it falls above the collarbone. Long hair is expected to be pulled back in a bun, ponytail, braids or corn rows.

 

How Long Will I Be Away from Home?

Sailors rotate between sea and shore duty. You may spend three years assigned to a ship’s command and then rotate to serve three more years at a shore command. You will not be at sea during your entire Navy career. During your sea tour, you may live off-base nearby, but must be available to travel with the ship for deployments or training.

A typical sea deployment on a Navy ship can last anywhere from six to nine months. Ships typically deploy once every 18-24 months. In preparation for deployment, Sailors should be prepared to go to sea for 10 to 14 days each month for training.

How Long Will I Serve?

Enlisted positions typically require an initial service commitment of four years, but positions involving longer-term training may involve five- or six-year 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.

 

Are There Financial Requirements?

Unpaid loans, overdue bills or a history of bad credit could impact your ability to serve in the military because you must be eligible for security clearance. In certain cases, you must prove you can meet your current financial obligations before joining.

 

What If I'm Married to An Active Duty Servicemember?

Congratulations, and here is the deal: If there are no children in the household, spouses are eligible to enlist. The Navy Reserve also offers opportunities for personnel married to an Active Duty Servicemember.

 

Can I Serve As A Single Parent?

Yes, you can. However, due to the risks associated with serving in the military, the Navy requires a waiver for any single-parent applicant.

 

DISQUALIFICATIONS

There are a number of reasons one may be unable to join the Navy. Even if you can’t serve, there are many other ways to help the American people. 

 

MEDICAL

Some medical conditions may disqualify you from serving in the Navy:

  • Contagious diseases that would endanger the health of other personnel
  • Conditions or defects that require excessive time lost for necessary treatment or hospitalization
  • Conditions demanding geographical area limitations
  • Conditions aggravated by the performance of required duties and/or training

If you have a specific medical condition and are not sure whether it disqualifies you, contact your local recruiter. 

 

CRIMINAL

If you have been convicted of a felony as an adult or a juvenile for offenses involving violence, domestic violence, illegal drugs, or sexual misconduct, you will be disqualified from serving in the Navy.

 

DRUGS & ALCOHOL

The Navy has a zero-tolerance policy for drug use and alcohol abuse. Dependency on illegal drugs or history of drug use or alcohol abuse can disqualify you from service.