Enlistment standards for recruits in the Army are the most lenient of all of the branches of service. While waivers may be granted for deviation from any stated standard, a waiver is not guaranteed and seems to be largely based on the Army’s need for recruits at the time.
The minimum age to enlist in the Army is 17 with parental consent or 18 without parental consent. The maximum age to enlist in the Army as active duty is 42. This is true for the Reserves as well, though the maximum age for the Army National Guard is 35.
It is rare to have a waiver issued for age unless the person is prior service. With prior service enlistees, the maximum age is 59, provided that the person will have 20 years of credible military service before turning 60.
To join the military, you must be a U.S. citizen or legal immigrant with a green card. Any legal immigrant from a country that is considered hostile towards the United States will require a waiver before being allowed to join.
If someone who is not a citizen joins, the person will not qualify for a security clearance which will prevent him from pursuing many military occupations.
To have the best chance of acceptance into the military, potential recruits should be high school graduates. Each service has a small percentage of GED applicants that can be accepted each year.
Those without a high school diploma who are not attempting to complete their education are generally not accepted.
Generally minor traffic offenses and even misdemeanors will be overlooked in the enlistment process. Other more serious offenses or a string of minor offenses will require a waiver for enlistment.
A person who has been convicted of domestic abuse will not be allowed to possess a firearm and is typically refused enlistment.
Potential recruits will undergo a full physical. All should be aware that past medical records will likely be requested, especially if there is a concern, so the recruit should always be honest.
Many with a medical condition can enlist with a waiver depending on the severity of the condition. If it is likely to result in a medical discharge, inability to perform military duties or restrict travel abilities, it is more likely to prevent enlistment.
In addition, recruits must be physically fit and able to pass a physical fitness test. While there are not set weight standards for the Army, they generally use a height and weight combination as a guide before measuring body fat to determine if the person meets eligibility standards.
Those who wish to enlist in the Army with more than two dependents may require a waiver before being allowed to enlist. Dependents include a spouse, children, stepchildren and parents who are dependent on the recruit for more than 50% of their financial support.
The Army may also examine the credit history of the recruit as a questionable history can affect the person’s ability to obtain a security clearance.