What Do I Need to Join the Army?

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Both men and women can join the U.S. Army.
Both men and women can join the U.S. Army. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

When a person is interested in joining the United States military, he has five different branches, such as the Navy, Air Force and Marines, to choose from. The U.S. Army is one of the branches of the Armed Forces. A person in the Army can be stationed in various locations around the world and the Army has positions available for peacekeeping initiatives even when there are no specific conflicts. The U.S. Army does have certain requirements to be qualified to join.

General Requirements

The U.S. Army has basic criteria for enlisting. Specific jobs require additional qualifications; however, anyone wanting to join must meet certain minimums. You must be a resident alien of the United States or a United States citizen. You need at least a high school diploma and must be no older than 34 and at least 17,. although a 17-year-old is required to have her parent's signed consent to join. An applicant with more than two dependents cannot join.

Testing

If you meet the minimal qualifications, you are then required to take an examination, called the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. The test has different areas that determine your skills in areas such as reading and math, but also in science, mechanical understanding, electronics and computer skills, such as coding speed. The portion of the overall ASVAB test that determines if you are qualified to join the Army is called the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). You must achieve a minimum score of 31. The ASVAB test also determines what specific jobs you are qualified to perform.

Physical Examination

If you have passed the AFQT portion of the ASVAB, your next step to enlistment is passing a physical. The exam is performed at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). Many factors go into the overall decision regarding your physical capabilities to join the Army. Considerations such as previous conditions, weight and height and visual acuity are all taken into consideration. You will have blood and urine tests, visual and auditory tests as well as a thorough physical examination. If you have a pre-existing condition, it may or may not impact your ability to join the Army. You may be required to bring previous medical records for review. Typically, your recruiter understands the requirements and will coach you on what information to provide.

Other Considerations

Several other factors may impact enlistment into the Army. For example, you need to be considered morally appropriate. This is often determined by such issues as a criminal history. If you have minor offenses, they probably won't impact your ability to join the Army. However, if you have a serious criminal background, you may be disqualified. The same issue applies to drug and alcohol use. If you used drugs in the past, you are likely still qualified to join the Army. However, if you currently use drugs or abuse alcohol, it can disqualify you. Be prepared to answer extensive questions about past criminal behavior and your alcohol and drug usage.

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