Entry requirements for those new to the military Qualifications & Commitment

Can I join the Navy Reserve? How many years would I be agreeing to serve? Here, get information on Navy Reserve qualifications and the typical Navy Reserve commitment for those who've never served before.


Video: Navy Reserve - Lieutenant Carmen Ehret

Reserve Lieutenant Carmen Ehret, with Maritime Expeditionary Command and Control Division 104. Being in the Reserve allowed me to bridge that gap of wanting to stay home and raise my kids but at the same time keeping my foot in the door. The Navy is definitely another family to me.

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U.S. Navy

To qualify for part-time service in the Navy Reserve, there are qualifications that you’ll need to meet. Start by reviewing the basics and contact a Navy Reserve Recruiter if you have any questions.

The goal is to make the process of joining as simple and clear as possible. Because you have valuable real-world experience to offer and unrivaled experiences to gain.

Know the Basic Entry Requirements

If you’re new to the military, see whether you meet the following requirements:

  • Citizenship: You must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. naturalized citizen or a legal permanent resident alien of the United States. Foreign nationals and aliens must legally immigrate first and then apply for and receive a permanent resident alien card, also known as a green card, prior to enlistment. The Navy Reserve cannot assist with the immigration process. To be eligible, you must enlist prior to the expiration date on your green card. To be a commissioned Officer in the Navy Reserve, you must be a native or naturalized U.S. citizen. You must also meet the mental, moral and physical standards for Navy service.
  • Health and Height: You must pass a physical exam to qualify for entrance. The height requirement for both men and women is between 60 and 80 inches.
  • Age: The general age requirement for the Navy Reserve is that you must be between the ages of 18 and 39 and be able to have 20 years of total service by age 60.
  • Education: For Enlisted personnel, the minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent is required. For Officers, a degree from a four-year college or university is typically required.

Because qualification and commitment details relate to your specific background and interests, you should contact a Navy Reserve Recruiter for details.

Know the Basic Obligations

Serving in the Navy Reserve traditionally requires a minimum of one weekend a month (drilling) and two weeks a year (annual training). Most of the training can be arranged to take place close to home so relocation is not required. In general, this is what to expect from committing to serve in the Navy Reserve:

Drilling: Your regular training typically amounts to 16 hours each month at a nearby training site. There are hundreds of locations across the U.S. – check the map of Navy Reserve locations to find the site nearest to where you live. And note that you may be able to take advantage of flexible drilling options. This could involve fulfilling the annual commitment in a single, extended mission or serving on weekdays if your civilian career makes weekend service difficult.

Annual Training: For at least two weeks each year, you will take part in advanced training that can take you across the U.S. or around the globe. This is typically a command exercise with your drilling Reserve detachment but you may also have opportunities to pursue independent assignments that broaden your experience.

Service Commitment: Obligations in the Navy Reserve for those who’ve never served before typically range from two to eight years – with opportunities for additional service and pay. Some high-demand Officer programs may offer initial commitment terms of as few as two years.

Enlisted Basic Training: If you’ve never served in the military before and are entering as an Enlisted Sailor, you will need to first attend Recruit Training – also known as Boot Camp.

Officer Training: If you’ve never served in the military before and are entering as an Officer, you will need to first attend Direct Commission Officer (DCO) School. Depending on your career field, you may also attend additional specialty schooling at a later date.

As a civilian looking to serve in the military for the first time, you bring skills and perspective that greatly diversify and strengthen the Navy Reserve. And what you take away from your service can serve you – personally and professionally – for a lifetime.