You’ve done your research. You’ve read up on America’s Navy, exploring this site and other recommended sites of interest. And now that you’re ready to take the next step, here’s what to do.
Whether you’re looking to join as an Enlisted Sailor or Officer, the process is simple. Below, the steps are laid out for you – from talking to a recruiter to getting mom and dad on board to taking the Oath of Enlistment and moving on to your initial training.
Step 1: Talk to a Recruiter
At this point, it’s common to have questions about everything from qualifications and life in the Navy to benefits and even career and job areas that have piqued your interest. So it’s time to get answers by contacting your local recruiter. Your recruiter will fill in any gaps and talk with you about available career options and education opportunities as well as any other points you wish to discuss.
Your recruiter will also outline the different ways you can join the Navy:
Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS)
Here, your mental, physical and intellectual capabilities are put to the test. It’s usually a two-day process, but once you’re processed, you’re off to Boot Camp, Officer Candidate School or Officer Development School (more on those later). For further details about MEPS, see Step 4.
Delayed Entry Program (DEP)
Join the Navy without beginning Active Duty service just yet. This will give you time to take care of any personal matters and tie up loose ends before you report in.
Enlistees can join America’s Navy and attend college at the same time through one of the Navy’s undergraduate programs. There are also graduate programs available to those who are farther along in their education or careers.
Ask your recruiter about these other ways to join the Navy:
Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC)
The NROTC is distinguished by academic excellence with a military purpose: to find great students like you. It provides financing (up to $180,000) to cover tuition at any of 160 top colleges and universities and can help you achieve your true potential as a professional and leader.
Direct Appointment Program
If you’re a college graduate or degree-holding professional, you can qualify for our Direct Appointment Program and immediately become an Officer in the Navy.
Step 2: Share With Family and Friends
The idea of joining the military can make loved ones a little bit uneasy. So, be sure to talk to them about the Navy, its advantages, and why joining the Navy will give you the opportunities of a lifetime. Introduce them to NAVYForMoms.com. This online community is a great place to share thoughts and questions with those who have loved ones serving in the Navy. Also, feel free to invite your recruiter to meet with your family. He or she can easily answer more detailed questions.
Step 3: Put in Your Application
Now, it’s time to apply. But before you do, you’ll want to decide whether it’s an Enlisted or Officer position you want to pursue. That will factor heavily into the decision to join right away, to complete schooling first or to investigate options for where you could join now but not serve until after the Navy has helped you complete your education.
When you meet with your recruiter, he or she will help you fill out your application. You’ll need to provide your recruiter with the following if you’re applying as an Enlisted candidate:
- Medical records
- Birth certificate
- Social Security card
- Citizenship certificate (if applicable)
- High school diploma
- Complete list of places you’ve worked
- Four character references
- List of all the places you’ve visited outside of the U.S.
- List of all the places you’ve lived
- Any information involving the police and drug use
If you’re applying as an Officer candidate, you must provide all of the above plus:
- College transcripts
- Medical/dental certifications and licenses (if applicable)
Once you’ve made the cut, you’re officially a recruit in America’s Navy. Next, you’ll schedule a date to visit your local MEPS.
Step 4: Get Processed
Everyone who joins the military goes through the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). Here’s what you’ll do there:
Take Your Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
It’s an aptitude test that will determine your strengths and which careers you’re best suited for. For study materials, check online or at bookstores.
Take Your Physical
It’s like taking a physical with your regular doctor. First, you’ll discuss with the doctor any medical conditions you may have. Next, you’ll take a series of basic tests including blood and urine work, hearing and visual exams, and simple flexibility tests. Your height and weight will also be documented. Finally, you’ll talk with the doctor about your medical history to make sure you’re healthy enough to join the Navy.
Narrow Your Interests
After your physical, you’ll head to a Career Classifier to choose your Navy career. Remember when you jotted down a few career opportunities in Step 1? Pull out that list here. Based on those interests, your ASVAB and physical results, a counselor will help match you up with the right job.
If you need help figuring out what you’re into and what you might be good at, start with Navy Life Ops. It’s a straightforward quiz that will point you to some Navy careers based on your likes and dislikes.
Take Your Pre-Enlistment Interview
Once you’ve chosen a job path, your paperwork will be checked one final time. A counselor will ask you a few general questions about your background – just be honest and you’ll do fine. And if your new career requires any additional testing, you’ll do that here.
Next, you’ll seal the deal by signing your enlistment contract.
Attend the Oath of Enlistment Ceremony
Invite your parents. Your brothers and sisters. Your aunts and uncles. And your friends. It’s time to celebrate – you’re swearing in to become a member of America’s Navy. Before the ceremony begins, you’ll have a run-through of the event. And once you’re ready, a commissioned Officer will conduct the Oath of Enlistment.
Step 5: Begin Training
It’s immensely important that every man and woman who serves in the Navy is at the top of his or her game within his or her career fields. So training is unparalleled. In-depth. Hands-on. And challenging. Depending on whether you’re being commissioned as an Enlisted Sailor or Officer, the training varies. Here’s how:
Enlisted recruits head off to Boot Camp at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center north of Chicago, Illinois, near the western shore of Lake Michigan. It’s a 7-9 week transformation that involves:
- Attending Navy classes
After Boot Camp, most Enlisted Sailors must go on to receive advanced training in “A” School. It all depends on the career you’ve chosen. In “A” School, you’ll learn specialized skills that will give you everything you need to excel in your career.
Depending on their career track, prospective Officers will attend either Officer Candidate School or Officer Development School.
Officer Candidate School
Officer Candidate School (OCS) is a 12-week program located at Naval Station Newport in Rhode Island. OCS is tailored to train and prepare college graduates to become commissioned Navy Line Officers.
During their training period, the candidates are instructed on leadership, physical and military training, and academics related to the command of ships and submarines.
Officer Development School
Officer Development School (ODS) is a five-week program, also located at Naval Station Newport in Rhode Island. The major difference between the two schools is that ODS trains already-commissioned Officers who are pursuing their careers in a specific field of study such as nuclear engineering, chaplaincy, medicine or oceanography, to name some of the many fields available.
ODS offers newly commissioned Officers a comprehensive and intense introduction to their responsibilities as Navy staff corps Officers. Here they learn about the military structure of the U.S. Navy, its rich history of traditions and customs, leadership development, and military etiquette.
In short, that’s all you need to know to begin a Navy career filled with endless opportunities. Generous benefits. And the chance to make a difference in the world.