Getting Into the Military for Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) (page 3)
You may find joining the military an appealing career choice. Once you have made the decision that the military is where you are headed, you will need to be armed with information about the enlistment process. That is what this article has to offer.
Your introduction to the military enlistment process usually starts with a visit to your local recruiting office. A search on the Internet for military recruiter, along with your geographical location, should provide you with the information you are looking for. Remember, all of the military service branches have a robust online presence through their various web pages, and you can find a great deal of information there:
- Navy: www.navy.com
- Army: www.goarmy.com
- Air Force: www.airforce.com
- Marine Corp: www.marines.com
- United States Coast Guard: www.gocoastguard.com
Don't narrow your options too soon, though. If you are thinking of a career in the military, visiting a recruiter from each of the five branches—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. There are lots of similarities, but the subtle differences in what each branch of service has to offer you could make a lot of difference in your career.
There are certain requirements you will have to meet in order to enlist in any branch of the military. Some of these requirements vary with each branch, so make sure you ask your recruiter any questions you may have. You must:
- be between 17 and 42 years of age, and have a parent or guardian's permission if you are under 18
- be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a green card
- have a high school diploma or GED
- be drug-free
- have a clean arrest record
It is important to be truthful with your recruiter about any trouble you have had in the past with drugs or with the law. Criminal history checks are conducted on applicants. However, some kinds of problems can be overcome, if they are really in the past, not current difficulties. Check with your recruiter.
Working with Your Recruiter
The recruiter is there to help you. In speaking with him or her, you will have the opportunity to ask as many questions as you want and to get a detailed picture of what each branch has to offer if you shop around. All recruiters will have brochures, videotapes, pamphlets, and years of personal experience to offer as resources. Don't be afraid to bring along a parent, guardian, or a trusted friend to help you ask questions. In fact, it is highly encouraged—they might ask helpful questions that you had not thought of.
You can ask about the service and its benefits— salaries and fringe benefits, postings, and educational opportunities, including financial aid for college once you get out. (See the table on pages 12–13 for the basic salary for various grades of enlisted personnel in all the services.) The recruiter will also ask about you: your education, your physical and mental health, and all sorts of in-depth questions about your goals, interests, hobbies, and life experience.
Before you take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), you will be given a brief test designed to give the recruiter an idea of how well you will perform on the real test. This pretest covers math and vocabulary. Although the ASVAB has eight different subtests, it's the math and verbal portions that determine whether or not you pass the test. The other sections are designed to discover what your aptitudes are for different jobs. There is no limit to how many times you can take this brief test in the recruiter's office.
The recruiter will talk to you about the benefits of enlisting: the pay, the travel, the experience, the training. You and the recruiter can also start to discuss the kinds of jobs available to you in the military. But before that discussion can go very far, you will have to be tested to see, first, if you can enlist, and second, what specialties you qualify for. That's where your trip to the Military Entrance Processing Station comes in.
Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS)
The recruiter will schedule you for a trip to a MEPS facility in your area (there are 65 facilities located throughout the United States) for required testing and evaluation. Depending on the service and location, your MEPS visit will take either one or two days. You will travel as a guest by plane, train, bus, or car, depending on how far you live from the nearest facility. MEPS schedules vary from area to area, but they all operate five days a week and are open a few Saturdays during the year.
The MEPS is where all applicants for every branch of the military begin the enlistment process. So, even if the Marine Corps is your future employer, you can expect to see staff wearing Navy blue, Army green, or Air Force blue. When you walk through the door, you will check in at the control desk and be sent to the liaison office for your branch of the service.
Throughout the enlistment process, you will have to present certain documents. Have the following available to ensure you are prepared:
- birth certificate, proof of permanent residency, or other proof of citizenship and date of birth
- valid Social Security card or two other pieces of Social Security identification
- high school diploma or GED certificate
- letter or transcript documenting your midterm graduation from high school, if applicable
- college transcript, if applicable, showing credits earned
- parental or guardian consent form if you are under 18 years old
- doctor's letter if you have, or have a history of, special medical condition(s)
- marriage certificate, if applicable
- divorce papers, if applicable
Your MEPS Day at a Glance
During your day at MEPS you will go through three phases:
- mental (aptitude) testing
- medical exam
- administrative procedures
Your schedule may vary from the one outlined here, depending on how much of the process you have completed in advance. Some applicants, for example, may have already taken the ASVAB at a Mobile Examining Team (MET) site near their hometown recruiting station.
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