What is the Easiest Military Branch to Get Into?

by | Army, General, Navy | 1 comment

Thinking about joining the military but unsure which branch might be the easiest to get into? You’re not alone.

Many prospective military recruits weigh their options, trying to find the best fit for their goals and future. Each branch of the military—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and now Space Force —has pros and cons.

Understanding these differences can help you make an informed decision. Whether you’re looking for a branch with fewer physical demands, lower ASVAB score requirements, or more lenient medical standards, knowing what to expect can simplify your path to enlistment.

Let’s dive into what makes one branch potentially easier to join than the others.

Understanding the Entry Requirements for Different Military Branches

Army Requirements

The Army seeks recruits aged 17-34. Although currently you can get an Exception to Policy (ETP) Age Waiver up to 42. We have even heard of age waivers being approved for non-prior service up to 45.

You need a minimum ASVAB score of 31 to join the Army. High school diplomas are required, but GED holders can qualifying ASVAB score of 50 or higher.

Physical fitness tests include the upgraded Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) which has more than just running, sit-ups, and push-ups.

Navy Requirements

The Navy accepts candidates aged 17-42. If you want to join, you need an ASVAB score of at least 35.

High school diplomas are preferred, though GED holders may qualify with an ASVAB score of 50 or higher.

Physical readiness tests include swimming, running, and calisthenics. Medical evaluations are comprehensive, particularly for vision and hearing.

Air Force Requirements

The Air Force requires recruits aged 17-42. Entry needs an ASVAB score of at least 36. High school diplomas are mandatory; GED holders need to meet additional criteria.

Physical fitness assessments include a timed run, push-ups, and sit-ups.

Marine Corps Requirements

The Marine Corps seeks recruits aged 17-28, although they will approve age waivers up to 34.

To join the Marines you need a minimum ASVAB score of 32. High school diplomas are essential; GED holders face additional requirements.

Physical fitness in the Marines are the most demanding. You need to be able to perform at least 3 pull-ups before getting shipped and have a minimum run time.

Coast Guard Requirements

The Coast Guard accepts recruits aged 17-42. You need an ASVAB score of at least 40.

High school diplomas are required, but GED holders may qualify. 

The Coast Guard physical fitness tests includes a timed run, push-ups, and sit-ups. During Coast Guard Basic Training you will need to pass swimming and treat water for at least 5 minutes as well.

Factors That Influence Enlistment

Physical Fitness Standards

Each military branch has distinct physical fitness standards as mentioned above. 

The Army for instance requires candidates to complete the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), including exercises like push-ups, planks, and a two-mile run.

The Navy’s Physical Readiness Test (PRT) consists of push-ups, a plank, and a 1.5-mile run.

The Air Force requires an Air Force Physical Fitness Test (PFT), which includes sit-ups, push-ups, and a 1.5-mile run.

The Marine Corps has the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) with pull-ups or push-ups, crunches or planks, and a three-mile run.

The Coast Guard’s Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) includes push-ups, sit-ups, and a 1.5-mile run.

These standards vary in difficulty and can influence which branch is easiest to join based on your physical condition.

Educational Requirements

Educational requirements also affect enlistment into certain branches.

The Army and Navy accepts applicants with a high school diploma or GED.

The Air Force, and Coast Guard generally require a high school diploma, though they may accept GED holders under certain conditions.

The Marine Corps focuses on high school diploma holders but considers GED applicants more selectively.

Pro-tip – if you have 15 credits of community college that is equivalent to a high school diploma for all military branches.

Availability of Waivers and Special Programs

The Army and Navy have extensive waiver processes for age, medical issues, and legal concerns.

The Air Force provides waivers primarily for medical conditions and generally you can’t get them if you have been in legal trouble.

The Marine Corps and Coast Guard also offer waivers, but they are less common and tend to be more restrictive.

These factors can make it easier to join a particular military branch if you face specific disqualifying medical or moral issues.

Comparing Branch-Specific Training Difficulties

Basic Training Comparisons

Each military branch has unique training programs designed to prepare recruits for service.

The Army’s basic training lasts 10 weeks. You’ll focus on physical fitness, combat training, and basic soldiering skills.

The Navy’s boot camp is 8 weeks long, emphasizing physical fitness, basic seamanship, and shipboard safety.

Air Force basic training spans 8.5 weeks, concentrating on physical conditioning, combat training, and Air Force-specific knowledge.

Marine Corps boot camp is 13 weeks, the longest and most challenging. It combines rigorous physical training, water survival, and martial arts.

The Coast Guard’s basic training is 8 weeks, with a focus on seamanship, water survival, and law enforcement skills.

While all branches demand high levels of dedication, the Marine Corps generally requires the most intense physical and mental endurance. If you aim for less strenuous basic training, consider the Air Force.

Advanced Training Opportunities

After completing basic training, each branch offers advanced training opportunities to specialize in specific military job.

The Army provides Advanced Individual Training (AIT), varying from a few weeks to several months, depending on the specialty.

The Navy offers “A” School, where durations differ based on the technicality and complexity of the job.

Airmen attend Technical Training Schools, which can last from several weeks to over a year, focused on their designated Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC).

Marine Corps recruits head to School of Infantry (SOI) for 8-9 weeks of further combat training, followed by additional schooling based on their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS).

Coast Guard personnel attend specialized training programs tailored to various maritime roles. The intensity and length of advanced training can influence your decision. The Air Force often offers the most extended technical training, ideal if you seek in-depth technical expertise.

Public Perceptions and Realities

Common Misconceptions

Many assume that the Army is the easiest branch to join due to its high enrollment numbers. Others think the Air Force is the most selective, prioritizing technical skills.

Despite these perceptions, all branches have specific requirements, including ASVAB scores, medical standards, and physical fitness tests. While entry standards vary, each branch must ensure recruits meet certain qualifications to maintain operational effectiveness.

Statistical Enrollment Data

Enrollment statistics provide a clearer picture of the reality.

According to the Department of Defense, in 2022, the Army enlisted approximately 62,000 new soldiers. The Navy brought in about 38,000, the Air Force enlisted 32,000, the Marine Corps added 30,000, and the Coast Guard enlisted around 4,000.

These numbers reflect the varying sizes and needs of each branch, influencing perceptions of entry difficulty.

Military Branch Enlisted in 2022
Army 62,000
Navy 38,000
Air Force 32,000
Marine Corps 30,000
Coast Guard 4,000

Understanding these enrollment data helps dispel myths and align perceptions with the actual entry landscape of different military branches.

What is the Easiest Military Branch to Get Into?

Choosing the easiest military branch to get into depends on different factors.

Joining the military is a big decision though and I would recommend considering your personal preferences and goals.

Remember, the path to joining the military is a significant commitment and you don’t want to necessarily always go with the easiest choice. Go with the choice that is best for you.



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