Am I eligible to join the National Guard?
Most people between the ages of 17 and 35 are eligible to join the National Guard. However, we do have strict guidelines. Read on to see if you meet the minimum requirements, as well as the physical, education and aptitude requirements for Guard service.
To qualify for enlistment into the National Guard, you need to:
- Be between the ages of 17 and 35* (unless you have prior U.S. military service, certain linguistic skills or a specialized professional skill, such as a chaplain, lawyer or certain medical specialties)
- Be a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident alien
- Meet necessary medical requirements and moral requirements. For a list of legal violations which will permanently disqualify you from serving, click here.
Physical Fitness Requirements
Guard Soldiers need to be in excellent condition, and fall within certain ranges of height and weight, to fulfill the physical demands of military service. Prior to Basic Combat Training (BCT), you'll also be tested to measure your level of physical fitness, using a version of the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). This test measures the number of push-ups and sit-ups you can complete within a given time, and the amount of time it takes to complete up to a two-mile run. You can find out more by downloading the Army Physical Fitness Test standards.
Education and Aptitude Requirements
Most states require applicants to have a high school diploma (or be working toward it), but each state sets its own education requirements. Contact a recruiter to get the latest information about your state's requirements.
If you're still in high school, you may be eligible for the Split Training Option, which lets you join while you finish your senior year. And if you've left high school short of graduating, the Guard's GED Plus program can help you earn your GED and become eligible for enlistment. Your recruiter has more information.
Before enlisting in the Guard, you'll be required to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (or ASVAB). This important aptitude test measures your knowledge in eight areas, including math, science, word knowledge, electronics, mechanics and auto/shop skills. It will help you find the Guard career best suited to your strengths—the one where you’ll fit best and be most likely to succeed.
What happens next?
If you've looked through the items listed above and it appears that you'd be a good candidate for the Guard, there are a few steps you’ll need to take in order to enlist.
- Contact a representative - You start the process by filling out a form and letting a Guard representative know you have questions. No obligation, no guarantees—it’s just a way of letting us know that you want to find out more.
- Take the ASVAB - If you and your Guard representative agree that you’re a good fit for the Guard, you can arrange to take your ASVAB test.
- Enlist – Once you’ve determined that you want to become a Soldier in the National Guard, you’re ready to enlist. At this point, you’ll:
- Schedule a physical examination with one of our doctors
- Lock in your ship date for Basic Combat Training (BCT)
- Confirm the job that you’ve selected
- Approve any benefits and bonuses
- Take your Oath of Enlistment
- Attend Recruit Sustainment Program (RSP) - Your ship date—the day you leave for Basic—will depend on your Guard job and the school you’ll attend for that job. You might ship within just a few weeks, or it might be delayed for several months. Until you ship, you’ll attend RSP one weekend a month to learn Guard rules and structure, and start fitness and classroom training.
- Ship to Basic Combat Training - You’re ready to start becoming a Soldier. In 10 weeks, you’ll be physically and mentally stronger than you’ve ever been, and ready to be part of the team that protects America.
Look over the rest of the pages in this section. If you still have questions, contact your local recruiter.
*As of April 1, 2011, applicants with no prior military service must have taken the oath of enlistment on or before their 35th birthday. Certain states have different age limits. There is an exception for qualified non-prior service applicants assessing into the MOS 09L (interpreter/translators specializing in Dari, Farsi and Pashto). Contact your recruiter to see if you qualify in your state.