Pros and Cons of Joining the Navy

Key Things You Should Consider Before Enlisting in the Navy

Male navy officers in meeting room, smiling
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Before you enlist in the Navy, you want to consider all the factors that could have an influence on your decision. There are perks and drawbacks to all branches of the U.S. military, and the considerable time Navy sailors spend at sea should factor into your decision. 

The Navy requires a minimum ASVAB score of 35 to enlist. The ASVAB is the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, a series of tests designed to determine for which Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) or job, a recruit is best suited.

Those who wish to enlist in the Naval Reserves need a minimum ASVAB of 31. However, your chances of being accepted are much better if you score higher. 

Like the other branches, the Navy accepts very few recruits who don't have at least a high school diploma. To be considered for enlistment with a GED, you must score a minimum of 50 on the on the ASVAB.

You must also have no record of drug use, and at least three references from influential members of the community. Any police involvement, other than minor traffic offenses will also disqualify a GED applicant. The Navy will always consider qualified prior service applicants as well.

Here are a few of the highlights to consider when thinking about enlisting in the Navy. 

Navy Enlistment Incentives

Each branch of the military needs to ensure that their new recruits are bringing them needed skills, and that they don't have too much of one skill and not enough of another.

If any of the critical skills become scarce, the Department of Defense offers a financial incentive in the form of bonuses. These bonuses vary depending on troop level and any conflicts the U.S is involved in, but the Navy does offer enlistment bonuses when warranted. It's best to check with your recruiting office about the most current enlistment bonus options.

Job Opportunities in the Navy

The Navy has more than 80 enlisted jobs, which they call ratings. Job classifications are handled a little differently in the Navy than in the other branches of the U.S. military, with many ratings divided into sub-specialties, rather than breaking them out into separate jobs (as is common in the Army). These are called Navy Enlisted Classifications (NECs).

Navy Basic Training Pros and Cons

The Navy only has one location for enlisted basic training: the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, which is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan, halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee.

Unlike the other services, much of Navy boot camp is conducted indoors, which makes sense when you consider that much of Navy life and duty is spent inside a ship or submarine. The recruit training command processes some 54,000 recruits through Navy boot camp every year. 

During Navy boot camp, recruits will take their initial swim test, learn details about the Navy rank and ratings, and go through intense physical conditioning. They'll learn military drills, shipboard safety such as firefighting, and receive weapons training. It's intense and challenging, and Navy boot camp is definitely not for everyone.


Before you can depart for Navy basic training, you must pass an initial fitness assessment. 

Navy Assignment Opportunities

The Navy has some 51 major bases in the continental United States (CONUS). They also have bases in Hawaii, Bahrain, Italy, Cuba, Greece, Guam, Japan, South Korea, Spain, and England. Many Navy assignments are not actually to bases, but rather sailors are assigned to a ship or submarine, which considers the base its home port.

Where you're stationed will largely depend on your job, so get to know the specifics of each rating and where its sailors train. To that end, sailors work with detailers, who are in charge of all assignments for a particular job community and rate range.

For the most part, sailors rotate from a period of shore duty to a period of sea duty. The actual length of the rotations varies by job, but usually averages 36 months of shore duty, followed by 36 months of sea duty.

The majority of Navy deployments are at sea on Navy ships and submarines.

Educational Opportunities in the Navy

Everyone who enlists on active duty in any branch of the military is eligible for the G.I. Bill. In addition, the Navy offers a college fund for recruits who enlist in jobs the Navy considers understaffed, adding money to monthly G.I. Bill entitlements. The Navy also gives tuition assistance for college courses taken off duty.

Courses offered on-base are by actual colleges and universities and generally give credit for military training, with flexible credit transfer policies. The Navy even brings along civilian college professors on some of the larger ships (such as aircraft carriers) to offer college courses while at sea.

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