Eligibility rules can be a little confusing. There are different rules for enlisting and for officer programs. Enlisting: Enlisted members do the hands-on work of the military. They need at least a high school degree (a GED may or may not suffice). Officer: Officers are the managers of the military. Most officer programs require a college degree at minimum, and are very competitive. Many officers have master's or higher degrees. Before you visit your local recruiter, be sure you meet the minimum qualifications for serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Some qualifications are required by all five services:
- You must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien.
- You must be at least 17 years old (17-year old applicants require parental consent).
- You must (with very few exceptions) have a high school diploma.
- You must pass a physical medical exam.
For each branch, there are slightly different enlistment requirements:
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* Age limits vary based on active-duty, prior service, or reserve. In addition, 17-year old applicants require parental consent.