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what do i need to study to get in to the military


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Meighan’s Answer

Thanks for your question, Colten!

Before I dive into the answer, I will speak generally about the two options of joining the military. These are 1. enlisting and 2. pursuing a commission to serve as an Officer. Many people get these confused, but enlisted personnel generally specialize in specific career subspecialties and are the technical experts. Officers act in more managerial positions and are typically generalists. Enlisted personnel are assigned military occupational specialties (MOS), a specific job or skillset within their service, while Officers are assigned "designators", a more general specialty (*specific terminology will vary from service to service). Another key difference is that you can enlist directly out of high school whereas becoming an Officer (regardless of branch of service) requires a college degree. You can talk with a local recruiter about these options, but recommend getting other opinions to fully explore your options. For either option, doing well in your high school curriculum and remaining physically fit will make you more competitive for selection.

If you enlist, you can expect to get screened (medical, background check, application process) and if selected, go directly to your branch's boot camp. After successful completion of boot camp, you will go to your branch's basic training and any other specialty trainings required for your MOS before reporting to your first unit or assignment.

I am current active duty Officer so I will now talk a little about the process to become an Officer. There are three main ways to become an Officer:

1. Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC): This is a college scholarship program where you complete your military training in conjunction with your college degree at a civilian college or university. Expect military coursework on top of your major required coursework, and training during the summers. After successful graduation, you will commission as an Officer.

2. Officer Candidate School (OCS)/Officer Training School (OTS): You finish your college degree independently, then apply to commission into a specific branch. OCS/OTS training is between 8 and 12 weeks depending on your branch.

3. Military Academy: Apply to a military academy such as the US Naval Academy, US Air Force Academy, or US Military Academy at West Point. You college and military training are combined, and upon graduation you will also commission as an Officer.

Note: There are also avenues for enlisted personnel to become Officers, but I will not focus on them here.

In general, speaking for the Navy, degrees in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) are preferred for both ROTC and Academy students. Majors are classified into different tiers, and there are more ROTC quotas for students to pursue a Tier 1 or Tier 2 major than a Tier 3 major. Pursuing a Tier 3 major (think Liberal Arts, Social Sciences, etc) is not impossible, but may be more difficult for you to get approval. Some choose to match their major to their preferred designator, such as majoring in Aerospace Engineering and applying to become a Pilot or Naval Flight Officer, or majoring in Nuclear Engineering to become a Submariner, but this is not required as you will receive later training upon commissioning in your assigned designator.

If you do want to become an Officer over enlisting, I recommend the ROTC or Service Academy routes. Both enable you to graduate college debt free (or close to debt free) as ROTC programs typically provide a full scholarship leaving you to fund housing and living costs and Service Academies are free to attend.

Joining the military is a big decision and requires a lot of reflection over whether it is a good fit for you and your goals. For me, it's been a rewarding career, but also a challenging one. This is what makes it exciting to me, but joining the military is not for everyone. Best of luck to you on your career journey!

Meighan recommends the following next steps:

Read more about the difference between Officer and Enlisted: https://www.asvabprogram.com/media-center-article/66
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Research different branches of the military
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Talk over your options with a trusted adult, mentor, or family member.
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Learn more about ROTC Programs: https://www.bestcolleges.com/resources/rotc-programs/
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Research the Navy's Tier System: https://naval.dasa.ncsu.edu/join-nrotc/navy-tier-system/
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Son’s Answer

Hi Colten! The great thing about the military is there are diverse opportunities within each branch, so was there a particular opportunity you were interested in? For example, I ended up in Public Affairs, which is mostly communications based, so if you wanted to go that route you could study media/communications. I echo what the others above have said as well- do you want to enlist or go the officer route? If you want to become an officer, a 4-year college degree is required, but if you're looking to enlist it is not.

I'd recommend looking at what particular area of study you're interested in, and decide if you'd rather enlist or commission as an officer, then go from there. A lot of times the military will train you prior to starting regardless, so the most important thing is figuring out what you yourself are interested in first. For example, I studied Pysch and Bio in college, but ended up in Public Affairs. They sent me to an intensive training prior to going to my first duty station, so I felt prepared.

Hope this helps. Good luck to you!

Son recommends the following next steps:

Figure out whether you want to enlist or commission as an officer
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Kim’s Answer

Colten,

To go in enlisted, there is no particular course of study required in High School. You will want to get good grades, stay out of trouble, and be physically fit. A year or two of ROTC will help familiarize you with military life. Four years will get you a higher rank, and higher pay, from the beginning!

If you google ASVAB practice test, you can see what they will test you over. Based on the results of those tests, and what openings they currently have, they will decide what career options are open to you. for example, test scores on language skills and analytical reasoning are more important than technical aptitude if you want to be a paralegal. If one branch doesn't have what you want, check the others!

If you are going to take the test, check back with me for my tips on test-taking. I helped my stepson boost his score so much that they thought he had somehow cheated. They made him retake it, and fingerprinted him! He still did great!

Best of luck to you!

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Updated Translate

Son’s Answer

Hi Colten! The great thing about the military is there are diverse opportunities within each branch, so was there a particular opportunity you were interested in? For example, I ended up in Public Affairs, which is mostly communications based, so if you wanted to go that route you could study media/communications. I echo what the others above have said as well- do you want to enlist or go the officer route? If you want to become an officer, a 4-year college degree is required, but if you're looking to enlist it is not.

I'd recommend looking at what particular area of study you're interested in, and decide if you'd rather enlist or commission as an officer, then go from there. A lot of times the military will train you prior to starting regardless, so the most important thing is figuring out what you yourself are interested in first. For example, I studied Pysch and Bio in college, but ended up in Public Affairs. They sent me to an intensive training prior to going to my first duty station, so I felt prepared.

Hope this helps. Good luck to you!

Son recommends the following next steps:

Figure out whether you want to enlist or commission as an officer
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What are you interested in?
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Figure out next steps on either enlisting or going to college to get a degree and become an officer. I did ROTC, which was a great route!
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