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What to Expect

United States Navy recruits learn about fighting fires at boot camp

Getting started in the Navy can come with a lot of questions. What is Boot Camp like? What does the Navy pay? How does sea duty compare to shore duty?

Whether you’re looking to join as an Enlisted Sailor or Officer, the process is simple and we’re here to help you get all the answers to your questions.

Sea and Shore Tours

Here are the first steps for getting started, from talking to a recruiter, to taking the Oath of Enlistment and advancing to your initial training.



It's common to have questions about everything from qualifications and life in the Navy, to benefits and career options. Connect with a recruiter, who will answer all your questions and explain career and education opportunities. Depending on your location and your proximity to the nearest enlisted or officer recruiting station, it may be more convenient to have these discussions over the phone or via chat. Much of the recruiting process can be done virtually, electronically or online if you desire.

Learn more about how to prepare for your journey.


Share the exciting news with your loved ones, explaining the advantages of kickstarting your career in the Navy. Introduce curious family members to Navy.com and NAVYForMoms.com, a supportive online community that offers insights and answers to common questions. You can also invite your recruiter to meet with your family so they can answer more detailed questions.


Now it’s time to apply. You must first decide whether you want to pursue an Enlisted or Officer position, and whether you want to join right away, complete school first, or join now and delay serving until after the Navy has helped you complete your education. Your recruiter can help you fill out your application.


Everyone who joins the military goes through the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), 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. The process includes testing for vocational aptitude, a medical exam, a background screening, career counseling and job selection, and an enlistment or commissioning oath.


Recruit Division Commander's Creed
"These recruits are entrusted to my care. I will train them to the best of my ability. I will develop them into smartly disciplined, physically fit, basically trained sailors. I will instill in them, and demonstrate by my own example, the highest standard of Honor, Courage, and Commitment."

Enlisted recruits attend Boot Camp at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in IL for a 10-week program that prepares them to serve in the Fleet. The curriculum focuses on Navy customs, etiquette, mental and physical fitness, while emphasizing the discipline required for success. Additionally, the training reinforces the Navy Core Values of Honor, Courage and Commitment.

Officer recruits attend either Officer Candidate School (OCS) or Officer Development School (ODS), which lasts anywhere from 5-13 weeks. Once there, recruits will be instructed in leadership, academics, etiquette, physical and military training, plus subjects depending on the career track.

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From competitive pay to world-class benefits, explore all you will earn in the Navy.