Step by Step Guide to Joining the Army

To start the "official" process of joining the Army, a prospective enlistee would visit or call their local Army recruiting station. Prior to doing so, we recommend doing some initial research on your own. Visiting websites such as this one and talking to people serving in the Army is a good first step for gathering initial information and impressions on the military lifestyle. The Army is not for everyone; individuals that have a problem taking orders from others will have a hard time in the military. The rank structure is there for a reason—as a soldier gets promoted and rises through the ranks, they take on greater responsibility and must give orders to lower enlisted soldiers. You'll obviously be taking a lot of orders as a new recruit and must accept this.

Do You Meet Army Enlistment Requirements?

The ultimate responsibility of the military services is to fight this nation's wars. Everyone that wishes to join the Army MUST be physically fit in order to perform their duties in a wartime environment. The Army also expects applicants to be of good moral character and meet aptitude requirements. For complete eligibility requirements, visit our article on Basic Army Eligibility Requirements.

Talking to an Army Recruiter

Once you've determined that you could adapt to a military lifestyle and think you meet the basic Army eligibility requirements, it's probably a good time to talk to a local Army Recruiter. Not sure where the closest Army recruiting station is? Use the Locate an Army Recruiter tool at the official GoArmy website.

Your Recruiter is there to answer your questions (and your parents questions if applicable) and do some initial screenings to determine if you are eligible to enlist in the Army. If you express a strong interest in joining the Army, your Recruiter will have you fill out some initial paperwork. An initial background check will be performed and your Recruiter can also weigh you and suggest ways to slim down or bulk up to meet the requirements for Army weight and body fat. They may even allow you to participate in physical training (PT) with the recruiting station.

Preparing For and Taking the ASVAB

Your Recruiter should be able to give you a practice ASVAB test which should give you a good idea how well you would perform when taking the actual ASVAB test. Many high schools administer the ASVAB test for Juniors and Seniors as well. For those who struggle on the practice test or received a low score on the actual ASVAB, a local library should have plenty of ASVAB study guides. Those who have access to a military installation can also obtain such resources from the installation library as well. For detailed information on the ASVAB, view our article on required ASVAB scores.

Choosing an Army MOS

Your Recruiter should be able to provide some useful information on Army MOSs (lingo for a job in the military). We HIGHLY recommend perusing our comprehensive section labeled Army Jobs / MOS List. Each enlisted MOS is listed with a detailed description outlining major duties, required ASVAB score, any possible enlistment bonus offered, etc. Descriptions for each officer and warrant officer job is also provided. To help you choose the perfect MOS for your particular interests, visit our article on choosing an MOS. A must read for those desiring to get an MOS that fits their interests.

Army Enlistment Incentives

Many MOSs offer enlistment incentives, such as an enlistment bonus, the college loan repayment program (CLRP), and / or the Army College Fund (ACF). View our page on Enlistment Bonuses by MOS for more information.

Early Promotions / Advanced Enlistment Opportunities

While your Recruiter should also go over these opportunities with you, we recommend viewing our page outlining the various ways that an individual can enter service in the Army with a higher rank: Early Promotion and Advanced Enlistment Opportunities. It is important that any early promotion you qualify for is included in your contract when you go to MEPS, hence why we list this topic before the section on MEPS.

Visiting the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS)

If your Recruiter determines that you are initially qualified to enlist in the Army, the recruiter will schedule a time for you to visit the closest Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). For details on this process, visit our article on the Military Entrance Processing Station. At MEPS you will choose your MOS, take the ASVAB if you have not already done so, and have a physical performed to ensure you meet Army standards for enlistment.

Future Soldiers Program

Finally, after you have your contract in hand at MEPS, you will be placed in the Future Soldiers Program until you ship to basic combat training.


We hope this step by step guide to joining the Army was helpful to those interested in enlisting in the Army and made the process clearer for potential recruits.

Article Last Modified: September 21, 2012

Return to: Joining the Army