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A Life at Sea: How to Join the Navy

How to Join the Navy hat adjusment

If you are finishing up high school or college and do not know what your next step might be, consider joining the U.S. Navy. Not familiar with the U.S. military or how to join the Navy? Well, you’ve come to the right place because we can help.

How to join the Navy (First Steps)
Your first step is to contact a Navy recruiter so you can get answers to basic questions about joining. Your local recruiter is a wealth of information, but remember, they work for the U.S. Navy and while they are trying to help you, the needs of the U.S. Navy come first.

Once you get some initial screening and processing done, your recruiter will take you to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). There you will take the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery). On another visit to MEPS, you will undergo a medical physical exam. All recruits must be within height and weight standards. A recruiter can offer more information about that.

Enlisted sailor candidates need to have a high school degree or equivalent to join, while officers need a college degree by the time they are commissioned. To enlist, you’ll also need to meet a minimum score on the ASVAB. Each Navy rating, that is, occupation, has its own set of scores that are required to join that field. For example, the scores to become a carpenter might be different than to become a language cryptologist. It’s recommended you check the requirements of your preferred job, since some specific jobs also require minimum scores.

How to Join the Navy (Things to Know)
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. Requirements are adjusted based on age and gender. You won’t need to meet any physical fitness requirements before joining the Navy as an enlisted Sailor with the exception of Naval Special Warfare programs. There are requirements if you join through ROTC or another officer path—your recruiter will provide the details.

How to Join the Navy and serve on a submarine

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 recruits everything they’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.

Once you’ve taken the ASVAB and you are cleared medically, you will speak with a career counselor about which Navy job is right for you based on your physical qualifications and ASVAB score. 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.

How to Join the Navy (Requirements)
Finally, once you’ve done all of the above, you will take the Oath of Enlistment and receive orders for Recruit Training Command also known as boot camp.

Here are some basic requirements to become a sailor:

  • Be a U.S. citizen; or Legal Permanent Resident (enlisted)
  • Be between the ages of 17 and 41 for Enlisted programs. Age requirements for Officer programs vary.
  • 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 ASVAB test (enlisted) or the Officer Aptitude Rating and Aviation Selection Test Battery (officer)
  • Pass the MEPS medical exam
  • Meet the physical, mental and moral standards of the Navy

It is important to note that the age requirements for joining the Navy depend on the path you take, and they exist mainly to ensure you’re able to succeed in a challenging environment. If you are not yet 18, you need parental consent to join.

How to Join the Navy and serve on a ship

How to Join the Navy (Disqualifiers)
Here are some disqualifying factors that will prevent you from becoming a sailor: 

  • 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

You can still join with a medical disqualification as long as you get a medical waiver, which is issued on a case-by-case basis. If you have a specific medical condition and are not sure whether it disqualifies you, talk to a recruiter.

How to Join the Navy (Moral waivers)
In addition, the Navy is responsible for the defense of the nation and should not be viewed as a source of rehabilitation for those who have not subscribed to the legal and moral standards of society at-large. Generally, felons and those with several convictions can’t join the Navy, but moral waivers or felony waivers are available in some cases. The waiver procedure is not automatic, and approval is based on each individual case.

The following offenses cannot be waived:

  • If you are under any form of judicial restraint (bond, probation, imprisonment, or parole)
  • If you are subject to civil court conviction or adverse disposition for more than one serious offense, or serious offenses with three or more other offenses (apart from traffic)
  • If you are found trafficking, selling, or distributing narcotics, including marijuana
  • If you have three or more convictions related to driving while intoxicated, drugged, or impaired in the past five years before joining
  • If you have been convicted of a felony crime of rape, sexual abuse, sexual assault, incest, any other sexual offense, or when the disposition requires the person to register as a sex offender.
  • If you are convicted for five or more misdemeanors
  • If you are unable to pass a drug or alcohol test, or if you have current charges pending against you
  • If you have been previously separated from the military services under conditions other than honorable or for the good of the military service concerned
  • In you have received an unfavorable final determination by the DoD Consolidated Adjudication Facility on a completed National Agency Check with Law and Credit (NACLC) or higher-level investigation, which is adjudicated to the National Security Standards in accordance with Executive Order 12968, Reference (j), during the accession process.

The Navy has a waiver process that you can take advantage of to prove you overcame a disqualifying issue that would otherwise prevent you from joining the Navy. After submitting a waiver, a review takes place to make sure you can join.

How to Join the Navy (Final Steps)
You will look back on when you asked yourself how to join the Navy and you will realize that the easiest part was asking that question. Attending boot camp, A school and then getting to your assignment was also just part of the journey to start your Navy service.

How to join the Navy? Asking that question is always the first step, but if you follow these steps, you will be packing your bags and heading off to serve in the Navy in no time.