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There are two very different ways to join the military: enlisting and commissioning as an officer. Knowing the difference will go a long way toward understanding how the military works.

The choice between enlisting or commissioning as an officer has a significant impact on the type of experience and training a new recruit receives. Learn the key differences below.

All enlisted jobs require a high school diploma, although with certain exceptions a GED is acceptable. While enlisted careers do include infantry roles, most jobs involve hands-on training for mechanical, transportation, human service or office fields that transfer well to the civilian world.

The Services assign careers to where each individual’s skills are most needed, so there is no guarantee service members will receive their first choice for a career. However, the Services do make an effort find the right fit for each service member.

Once you have talked to a recruiter, you’ll set a date to visit a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) to finish the enlistment process.

The MEPS is a joint Service organization that determines an applicant's physical qualifications, aptitude and moral standards as set by each branch of military service. There are MEPS locations all over the country.

For this and more information about military enlistment, visit Today's Military.  You will find additional details on:

  • Taking the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
  • Passing the Physical Examination
  • Meeting with an Enlistment Counselor to Determine a Career
  • Taking the Oath of Enlistment
  • What Comes After MEPS

Click here for more information about military enlisted careers, courtesy of myFuture.