Joining the marines at 28

The United States Marine Corps is popularly known for turning recruits into some of the toughest officers in the military. Its boot camp is one of the toughest, and that’s what makes the Marine.

If you want to become one of the few respected Marines, you need to meet their requirements. This applies irrespective of whether you want to serve as a commissioned Marine officer or an enlisted Marine.

These requirements range from physical and age to education and citizenship. Today, we will majorly focus on age although we will briefly discuss other requirements as well.

Related Article – Marine Corps MOS List and ASVAB Scores: Details Of All 123 Jobs

To help you understand different age limits for joining the Marines, we will focus on the different paths you can use to become a Marine.

There are four ways you can become a Marine Corp officer or enlisted:

Let’s discuss age requirements in each of these paths to joining the Marines.

Marine Enlistment Age Requirements

Enlisted Marines can serve as both privates and non-commissioned officers. To enlist with the Marines, you must be at least 17 years and not more than 29 years when starting training. However, 17-year-old applicants need parental consent before getting enlisted.

female marine age limit

You also need to be a legal U.S. resident and have a high-school diploma. Other requirements include meeting height and weight standards and also passing physical fitness test as well as an aptitude test. The physical fitness test includes sit-ups, crunches, push-ups or pull-ups and a three-mile run.

Marine Officers Age requirements

Rather than being enlisted to the Marines, you can start out as a commissioned Marine officer. To become a commissioned officer, you must be between 18 and 28 years when you receive your commission.

Also, you need to be a U.S. citizen either working towards your bachelor’s degree or with a bachelor’s degree.

Like enlisted Marines, commissioned offers must also pass a physical exam. They must successfully go through the USMC Officer Candidates School for them to be commissioned. Keep in mind that this is not a boot camp for Marines. Here candidates are evaluated and trained to ensure they have what it takes to be Marine officers.

Related Article:How To Join The Marines

4-year College/NROTC

You can opt to enroll in the National Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) program where you will be educated and trained to become a highly qualified applicant for careers as commissioned officers in the Marine Corps.

The NROTC units for Marine option are located in selected universities and colleges across the US. Upon graduation and completion of training, the Midshipmen (Students in this program) are commissioned as Marine Officers.

To be eligible for Marine Option NROTC, you must be 17 years by September 1st of the year starting university or college and not more than 23 years of age as of June 30th of that year. Applicants should not be more than 27 years at the anticipated time of graduating from college.

Applicants with prior active duty military service may benefit from age waiver for the amount equivalent to their prior service for a maximum of 36 months. They need not be older than 30 years.

There are other requirements including meeting Marine Corps standards, have no criminal records, be a high-school graduate, among others.

U.S. Naval Academy

To enroll in the USNA, students have to receive a nomination. The nomination normally is requested from the Vice President of the United States or member of Congress. Students who make it to this academy hold the rank of midshipmen and can graduate as Marine Officers.

The minimum age for joining the Navy Academy is 17 years while the maximum is 23 years on July 1st of the year of admission. Also, you should not be pregnant or married. There are many other requirements you have to meet, just like in other paths of joining the Marines.

Bottom Line

Overall, the minimum age for joining the Marines is 17 with parental consent and 18 without parental consent. The Marines cap the recruit ages at 28 years, but there are age waivers for individuals with prior service time. By law, the maximum age for enlistment for the Marines is 35 with prior experience in military service.

We hope that our guide has answered all the questions you had regarding age requirements for joining the Marine Corps. If you have other questions, you can engage us in the comment box below.

Resources / References

Marines Height And Weight Standards

Enlist in the Marines

Frequently Asked Questions | Marines

Jeff E.

Jeff E.

Jeff served with the Marine Corps Reserves as an Infantryman with Kilo Co. 3rd Battalion 23rd Marines from 1997 to 2003. 3/23 was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and served primarily in the Wasit Province of Iraq. Since exiting, Jeff has served as a non-profit manager in the area of foster care and adoption.

Jeff E.

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Your Questions About Joining the Marine Corps Answered

Interested in joining the Marines? We give you the straight answers to the most asked questions about what it takes to be a Marine, how to join and what to expect after you sign on the dotted line.

What Is the US Marine Corps?

The Marine Corps is one of the most elite fighting forces in the world. The Marines are a part of the Department of the Navy and operate in close cooperation with U.S. naval forces at sea. The Marines' mission is unique among the services. Marines serve on U.S. Navy ships, protect naval bases, guard U.S. embassies and provide an ever-ready quick strike force to protect U.S. interests anywhere in the world.

To perform the many duties of the Marine Corps, approximately 182,000 officers and enlisted Marines fly planes and helicopters; operate radar equipment; drive armored vehicles; gather intelligence; survey and map territory; maintain and repair radios, computers, jeeps, trucks, tanks and aircraft; and perform hundreds of other challenging jobs.

How Are the Marines different from the Army?

The Marine Corps is the nation's 911 force. Thousands of Marines are deployed aboard naval amphibious ships ready to respond to an international crisis. This ability to mobilize quickly has allowed the Marines to become the United States' ready-reaction force.

The Army is a much larger force and is used in larger and longer conflicts. At times, the Army will relieve the Marines after a period of time, much like what happened in Somalia.

The Marines also consider themselves to be a self-sustaining force, bringing with it to battle its own airpower, artillery and logistics support. Of course, Marines have to travel on Navy vessels in order to get to its destination.

Marines also are proud to say that "every Marine is a rifleman.'' In other words, regardless if you are in the infantry, the air wing or a computer technician, you will be given the proper training so that, if needed, you can perform as an infantryman. It is fair to say that this mentality does not exist in all of the Army's support units.

What Are the Qualifications to Join the Marine Corps?

The following are the basic requirements for joining. You must:

  • To enlist, you must be a U.S. citizen or a resident alien.
  • Meet exacting physical, mental and moral standards.
  • Be between the ages of 17-28. Seventeen-year-olds need parental consent.
  • Have a high school diploma.
  • Take and pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.
  • Pass a Military Entrance Processing Station medical exam.
  • Women are eligible to enlist in all occupational fields, with the exception of combat arms specialties: infantry, artillery, and tank and amphibian tractor crew members.

What's the ASVAB?

The ASVAB is a test that measures your aptitudes. It consists of 10 short individual tests covering word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, arithmetic reasoning, mathematics knowledge, general science, auto and shop information, mechanical comprehension, electronics information, numerical operations and coding speed. When you take the ASVAB before enlisting, not only do you receive scores on each of these individual tests, but several individual test results are combined to yield three academic composite scores: verbal, math and academic ability.

Officer candidates who did not receive a minimum score on the SAT or the ACT must take the ASVAB and score a minimum of 115 on the Electronics Repair composite.

What Are Some Benefits of Joining?

  • Steady income: You are paid twice a month, on the first and 15th, every month, based on your pay grade and service requirements.
  • Advancement: You are promoted based on job knowledge, your performance, time in pay grade and service requirements.
  • Paid vacation: You earn 2.5 days of paid vacation per month for a total of 30 days each year up to 60 days.
  • Training: You choose your career path based on your aptitude, physical abilities, security clearance, motivation and determination.
  • Health care: While on active duty, you will receive complete medical and dental care at no cost.
  • Life insurance: Active duty members select up to $400,000 in term life insurance for a low price.
  • Allowances: You also may receive additional tax-free money for the basic allowance for housing (BAH) if government housing is not available; the basic allowance for subsistence (BAS), if government food facilities are not available in the area you are stationed; and a uniform allowance (for enlisted personnel only) to help maintain your uniform.
  • Tax advantage: Only your basic monthly pay is subject to federal or state income tax.
  • GI Bill: The GI Bill will help pay for college education or vocational training.
  • Tuition assistance: While on active duty, you may continue your education and may be helped in defraying the cost of college-accredited courses.
  • Additional benefits: There are exchange and commissary privileges, moving allowances, temporary lodging expenses, travel, survivor benefits, Veterans Administration home loans and more.

Is Infantry the Only Job in the Marine Corps?

Although the Marine Corps says that "every Marine is a rifleman," infantry units comprise no more than 15% of the service's total force. You will be able to work in one of 35 career fields that offer more than 300 different jobs.

Some specialty fields available to you:

  • Aircraft defense
  • Aircraft maintenance
  • Armor
  • Broadcasting
  • Combat engineer
  • Communications
  • Computer operator/technician
  • Electronics
  • Intelligence
  • Supply

Use our job matcher to explore careers that match your interest.

Can Certain Training Schools or Duty Stations Be Guaranteed to Me Upon Enlistment?

Yes. It will depend on your term of commitment or specialty. Ask your recruiter for details.

Does the Marine Corps Take People with Prior Service?

Yes. The Marine Corps accepts prior-service people.

What if I Am Not a US Citizen?

Only U.S. citizens or foreign nationals legally residing in the United States with an Immigration and Naturalization Service Alien Registration Card ("Green Card" -- INS Form I-151/551) may apply. Applicants must speak, write and read English fluently.

Can the Marine Corps Help Me Obtain US citizenship?

No. The U.S. military cannot assist foreign nationals in obtaining admittance into the United States.

What if I Live Overseas?

Regulations prohibit the forwarding of recruiting information through international mail, even to U.S. citizens living in foreign countries. Use our online form to reach a recruiter electronically.

How Long Is Boot Camp?

Boot camp is 13 weeks, followed by three weeks of either the School of the Infantry or Marine Combat Training.

Where Is Boot Camp?

Boot camp is located at Parris Island Recruit Depot, SC on the east coast and San Diego Recruit Depot for those on the west coast. All women will attend recruit training at Parris Island.

What Is Boot Camp Like?

Recruit training is rigorous, demanding and challenging. The overall goal of recruit training is to instill in the recruits the military skills, knowledge, discipline, pride and self-confidence necessary to be a Marine.

In the first several days at the recruit depot, a recruit is assigned to a platoon, receives a basic issue of uniforms and equipment, is given an additional physical and takes further assignment classification tests. Each platoon is led by a team of three Marine drill instructors. A typical training day for recruits begins with reveille at 0500 (5 a.m.), continues with drill, physical training, and several classes in weapons and conduct, and ends with taps at 2100 (9 p.m.).

Should I Do Anything Before I Go to Boot Camp?

Yes. Ask your recruiter whether you can get a copy of "Recruit Regulations.'' During recruit training, you will use the book when told to "study your knowledge." Pay particular attention to the list of items you cannot bring to boot camp, the 11 General Orders and the Position of Attention.

We cannot stress enough how important it is for you to prepare yourself for running and physical fitness training. It is recommended that you enter recruit training with the ability to run three miles in less than 24 minutes.

For tips on how to get yourself into shape for Boot Camp, see military fitness guru Stew Smith's articles.

How Do I Become an Officer?

There are a number of ways you can become an officer in the Marine Corps. In almost all cases, you will need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.

Sources of commissioning:

  • Service Academy
  • ROTC
  • OCS
  • Enlisted Commissioning Program

All Marine officers will complete The Basic School (TBS) upon receiving their commission. TBS is six months and will cover leadership, land navigation, weapons qualifications, small unit tactics and communications.

What if I Want to Go to a Service Academy?

A portion of Naval Academy graduates go into the Marine Corps. While at Annapolis, midshipmen have the opportunity to see firsthand the various fields open to them.

How Do I Apply to the Naval Academy?

To apply, you should have competitive Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores and cannot have reached your 22nd birthday. Visit our service academy info page for more info.

What Is Officer Candidate School?

Officer Candidate School is offered to college graduates or those in the process of receiving their baccalaureate degree who want to become commissioned officers in the Marine Corps.

The Marines offer two programs for those who qualify -- the Platoon Leaders Course (PLC) and Officer Candidates Class (OCC). Training at both programs is at Quantico, Virginia.

PLC -- For freshmen, sophomores or juniors in college. Candidates will complete either two six-week courses or the 10-week course before receiving their baccalaureate degree.

OCC -- Seniors or those who already have received their baccalaureate degree will attend a 10-week course.

Both programs occur in the summer and do not interfere with your academic studies.

The 10 or 12 weeks of officer training is intended to measure your leadership potential; you must prove yourself. Upon graduation, you decide whether to accept an appointment as a Marine Corps officer.

How Do I Apply for OCS?

We suggest you contact an officer selection officer (OSO). The application process includes receiving a minimum combined score of 1000 on the SAT, a 45 on the ACT or a 115 on the Electronics Repair composite of the ASVAB. You also must pass your physical given at a MEPS. Your application package also will include an essay written by you and written statements of your references. The completed package will be submitted to a board, who will select the top candidates from the packages they receive. Please visit the OCS Home Page.

What About ROTC?

You also can receive a commission in the Marine Corps by joining Naval ROTC. The Naval Reserve Officers' Training Corps (NROTC) program offers tuition and other financial benefits at more than 60 of the country's leading colleges and universities. Two- and four-year subsidized scholarships are offered. Participants receive a monthly cash allowance. Two- and four-year nonsubsidized NROTC programs also are offered. These are referred to as college programs and provide for monthly cash allowances during the junior and senior years.

Are There Promotions to Officer Rank?

Yes. The Marine Corps has a number of opportunities to become a "Mustang" -- someone who is commissioned from the enlisted ranks.

The Enlisted Commissioning Program

This program provides the opportunity for enlisted Marines with two years of college to apply for assignment to the Officer Candidates School and subsequent appointment as unrestricted commissioned officers.

Enlisted Commissioning Education Program

The Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program provides to selected enlisted Marines (who have had no college experience) the opportunity to earn bachelor's degrees by attending a college or university as full-time students. Marines in this program who obtain their bachelor's degrees and subsequently complete officer candidate training are commissioned as second lieutenants.

The Warrant Officer Program

Warrant officers are technical specialists who are assigned to duties only in their area of expertise. All other officers are said to be "unrestricted" and are assigned to a wide variety of assignments during their career. The Warrant Officer Program allows for those qualified applicants who are in the grade of sergeant or above at the time of application to be selected and appointed to permanent warrant officer.

Are There Medical Opportunities in the Marines?

The Marine Corps actually receives their medical support (doctors, corpsman, nurses) from the Navy.

What Reserve Opportunities Are in the Marine Corps?

Yes. The Marine Corps Reserve is a part-time force of specially trained people who serve with the Marine Corps one weekend a month and two weeks every year.

You will have to complete the 12 weeks of boot camp, but you will have the opportunity to train for one of more than 300 different jobs.

What Are the Qualifications to Join the Reserve?

The qualifications to join the Reserve are the same as joining the active duty. You must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or a resident alien.
  • Meet exacting physical, mental and moral standards.
  • Be between the ages of 17-29. Seventeen-year-olds need parental consent.
  • Have a high school diploma.
  • Take and pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.
  • Pass a Military Entrance Processing Station medical exam.
  • Women are eligible to enlist in all occupational fields, with the exception of combat arms specialties: infantry, artillery, and tank and amphibian tractor crew members.

What Training Will I Receive?

Depending on the program, you will attend boot camp and training for your military occupational specialty (MOS). Weekend or weekday drills are considered training. Active duty for training (ADT) is 12 days of active duty is required annually.

What if I Have a Problem Getting Time Off from My Employer to Fulfill My Military Service Obligations?

By law, as a member of the Reserve, you must be granted, upon request, a leave of absence to satisfy a requirement for military training. The Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act requires employers to provide reservists with time away from their jobs to perform military duty. However, you must notify your employer that you intend to take military leave. You must be reemployed after completion of your military duty and return to your job within a reasonable time. You must be treated as though you had never left employment, including scheduled pay raises, promotions or credit for longevity or vacation. Your employer only has to hold a job open for 60 months if you accept voluntary orders.

Are There Pilots in the Marine Corps?

Yes. Aviation is a key component in the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF).


Flight school candidates are officers who must pass a naval flight physical. Dental exam will check for cavities and other problems that may be affected by changes in air pressure during flight.

Vision requirements are also very stringent. Eyesight should be 20/20 or correctable to 20/20, no exceptions. Uncorrected visual acuity must be better than 20/200 in either eye. There are other limitations imposed based on the type and strength of the lens prescription. In addition, normal color perception, depth perception and field of vision are required.

What Do Marine Pilots Fly?

Marines fly jet fighters, helicopters and other support aircraft. These include:

How Do I Become a Pilot?

When applying for a commission in the Marine Corps, you can opt for a guaranteed aviation slot. This means if you complete OCS and pass your flight physical, you will be guaranteed a seat at Naval Flight School after you complete The Basic School.

Flight school will last from 18-24 months, depending on the type of aircraft you are assigned. After flight school, you then will spend time qualifying on your assigned aircraft before being assigned to your squadron. Becoming a pilot takes a lot of work and dedication. Do not go down this career path unless you are serious about becoming an aviator.

What Should I Ask My Recruiter?

Marine recruiters must present an accurate picture of basic training. You should be aware of all aspects of the military lifestyle. Be sure you fully understand the enlistment contract. You should ask about:

  • Details and qualifications for each specialty.
  • The current enlistment bonuses.
  • Films or videos about training and duties.
  • Boot camp.
  • Special enlistment programs if you have completed Junior ROTC or Navy cadet training.
  • Overseas assignments, remote and long duty.
  • Haircut and grooming standards.
  • Off-duty education and educational benefits.
  • Guaranteed training programs.

Interested in Joining the Military?

We can put you in touch with recruiters from the different military branches. Learn about the benefits of serving your country, paying for school, military career paths, and more: sign up now and hear from a recruiter near you.

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FAQ Answer

Marine Officers and Enlisted Marines train together, deploy together, and come to rely on one another during their time in the Corps. Both Marine Officers and Enlisted Marines have opportunities in most fields, but they are trained to take on different roles within a field. Whether you begin your journey on the officer side or on the enlisted side, if you have what it takes to earn the title Marine, you will become part of a brotherhood that lasts a lifetime.


FAQ Answer

Marine Corps Officers are assigned to many Military Occupational Specialties (MOSs), which fall under three main categories: Ground, Air, and Law.

Ground: the majority of Marines operate in ground specialties, in roles ranging from infantry to combat service support.

Air: Marine Pilots and Naval Flight Officers train on jets, helicopters, tilt-rotor aircraft, and turboprop aircraft.

Law: training for Judge Advocates supplements a law degree, with instruction for practicing law in the military. Please see Roles In The Corps for more information.


FAQ Answer

After graduation from recruit training, Marines attend the School of Infantry (SOI). Those with an Infantry Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) are trained at Infantry Training Battalion (ITB) over the course of 52 days, and those with a non-Infantry MOS are trained at Marine Combat Training Battalion (MCT) over the course of 29 days. Upon completion of SOI, non-Infantry MOS Marines attend their MOS school, which entail differing lengths, graduation requirements, and locations. All Marines are then assigned to a unit with a Permanent Duty Station (PDS) and may be deployed overseas if their unit is ordered to do so. Learn more about recruit training and request more information here.


FAQ Answer

Officer Candidates earn their commissions after graduating from college and completing a program such as Platoon Leaders Class or Officer Candidate Course. They then attend The Basic School, followed by specialized training that prepares them for their Military Occupational Specialty. Officers serve in the operating forces, leading Marines in their primary MOS. After their first tour, they serve in non-MOS-related positions such as recruiting duty. Officers also attend career-level schools like Expeditionary Warfare School and may seek advanced degrees.

Promotions are based on time in rank, successful performance in assignments, and appropriate education. During active service, officers and their families have access to a wide range of personal and professional resources such as healthcare, travel, advanced education, and financial benefits. Above all, they are part of the Marine Corps family, and this camaraderie, as well as their leadership training and experience leading Marines, lasts a lifetime.


FAQ Answer

Before beginning Officer Candidates School, your Officer Selection Officer will guide your physical training regimen and prepare you for the challenge of becoming a Marine Corps Officer.


FAQ Answer

Based on your qualifications, you will get the choice of a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) field. Marine Corps Recruiters are the best resource for information about a specific MOS. You can contact a Marine Recruiter by requesting more information.


FAQ Answer

The PFT is a standard test that measures the battle-readiness of each Marine once a year, with a focus on stamina and physical conditioning. The test consists of a three-mile run, pull-ups or pushups, and crunches. Marines are assessed on a points system across these three categories and must receive a high enough score to pass.

Those who wish to pursue a ground combat MOS must complete the gender-neutral ground combat arms Initial Strength Test (IST). A Marine Corps Recruiter is the best person to ask about specific enlistment requirements, and he or she may be able to help you develop a plan to ensure that you meet those requirements.


Join the Military

Learn About the Military

Get a brief overview of the six service branches of the U.S. armed forces:

  • U.S. Air Force (USAF) 

  • U.S. Army (USA)

  • U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) 

  • U.S. Marine Corps (USMC)

  • U.S. Navy (USN) 

  • U.S. Space Force (USSF)

The Air Force is part of the Department of Defense (DOD). It’s responsible for aerial military operations, defending U.S. air bases, and building landing strips. Service members are known as airmen. The reserve components are Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.

The Army is part of the DOD and is the largest of the five military branches. It handles major ground combat missions, especially operations that are ongoing. The Army Special Forces unit is known as the Green Berets for its headgear. Service members are known as soldiers. The reserve components are Army Reserve and Army National Guard.

The Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It’s responsible for maritime law enforcement, including drug smuggling. It manages maritime search and rescue and marine environmental protection. It also secures ports, waterways, and the coasts. Service members are known as Coast Guardsmen, nicknamed Coasties. The reserve component is Coast Guard Reserve. 

The Marine Corps is part of the DOD. It provides land combat, sea-based, and air-ground operations support for the other branches during a mission. This branch also guards U.S. embassies around the world and the classified documents in those buildings. Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) members are known as Raiders. All service members are referred to as Marines. The reserve component is Marine Corps Reserve.

The Navy is part of the DOD. It protects waterways (sea and ocean) outside of the Coast Guard’s jurisdiction. Navy warships provide the runways for aircraft to land and take off when at sea. Navy SEALs (sea, air, and land) are the special operations force for this branch. All service members are known as sailors. The reserve component is Navy Reserve. 

The Space Force is a new service, created in December 2019 from the former Air Force Space Command. The Space Force falls within the Department of the Air Force. It organizes, trains, and equips space forces to protect U.S. and allied interests in space and to provide space capabilities to the joint force.


Marines at the 28 joining

Are You Eligible to Join the Military?

Eligibility rules can be a little confusing. There are different rules for enlisting and for officer programs.

Enlisting: Enlisted members do the hands-on work of the military. They need at least a high school degree; a GED may not suffice.

Officer: Officers are the managers of the military. Most officer programs require a college degree at minimum and are very competitive. Many officers have master's or higher degrees.

Before you visit your local recruiter, be sure you meet the minimum qualifications for serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Some qualifications are required by all five services:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien.
  • You must be at least 17 years old (17-year-old applicants require parental consent).
  • You must (with very few exceptions) have a high school diploma.
  • You must pass a physical medical exam.

For each branch, there are slightly different enlistment requirements:

To join the...You must:
Air Force
  • Be between the ages of 17-39
  • Have no more than two dependents.
  • Pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. (Minimum AFQT score: 36)
  • Be between the ages of 17-35
  • Have no more than two dependents.
  • Pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. (Minimum AFQT score: 31)
Coast Guard
  • Be between the ages of 17-27
  • Have no more than two dependents.
  • Pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. (Minimum AFQT score: 40)
  • Have a willingness to serve on or around the water.
  • Meet exacting physical, mental and moral standards.
  • Be between the ages of 17-28
  • Pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. (Minimum AFQT score: 32)
  • Be between the ages of 17-34
  • Pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. (Minimum AFQT score: 35)

Age limits vary based on active-duty, previous service or reserve. In addition, 17-year-old applicants require parental consent.

Interested in Joining the Military?

We can put you in touch with recruiters from the different military branches. Learn about the benefits of serving your country, paying for school, military career paths, and more: sign up now and hear from a recruiter near you.

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What Is the Maximum Age to Enlist in the Military?

One of the most frequently asked questions recruiters get asked is what are the maximum age limits to enlist in the military service. There is an age limit that disqualifies certain ages from joining the military. However, the age limit is higher that you may think. If you are over this age limit, you are not qualified for service. But, if you keep pushing and proving to the recruiters that your experience and physical fitness levels are acceptable, you could be eligible for an age waiver. The most frequently asked question is the following:

Maximum Age for Military Enlistment

Across the United States Armed Forces, the maximum age for enlistment for someone who has never served in the military before depends on the branch. For the Army, the maximum age is 35. For the Navy, age waivers start at 34-years-old. For the Air Force, the maximum age allowed to join is 39-years-old. The Marines have the lowest maximum age for regular military service at 28-years-old. Special Operations branches also have different maximum ages due to the physical challenges put upon the candidates compared to regular military service. These maximum ages can be waived if the recruit has the education, skills, experience that the military needs to fill its ranks. The same holds true for the Special Operations communities, where waivers are available, but only on a case by case basis and typically approved or disapproved by the commanding officer of the selection program or the community manager/detailer.

Often the age waivers that do get approved are those in the professional jobs fields (legal, medical, dental and religious).

The maximum age of non-prior service enlistment under Federal Law was 35-years-old. In 2006, the Army asked Congress to raise the age limit to 44-years-old. Congress did not approve this change, but raised the maximum enlistment age from 35 to 42.

Regardless of Federal Law, the military services are allowed to impose more strict standards, and many of them have. The maximum age for non-prior service enlistments for each service is:

  • Active Duty Army - 42
  • Army Reserves - 42
  • Army National Guard - 42
  • Active Duty Air Force - 39
  • Air Force Reserve - 35
  • Air National Guard - 40
  • Active Duty Navy - 34
  • Navy Reserves - 39
  • Active Duty Marines - 28
  • Marine Corps Reserves - 29
  • Active Duty Coast Guard - 27
  • Coast Guard Reserves - 39

Some Special Operations Age Limits

Navy SEAL recruits must be between the ages of 17 to 28 years old. There are some waivers for men ages 29 and 30 that are available for very qualified candidates. These applicants must prove to the Navy and the Navy SEAL community that they are worth the investment. Typically uncommon skills and experience will help, but the standards for physical fitness are held standard no matter what the age of the applicant. There is also another exception with prior enlisted servicemen who seek to enter the SEAL community as an Officer can request waivers to the age of 33.

Army Special Forces recruits must be between the ages of 20-30 years old but the physical requirements are still the same and recruits must score a minimum of 260 on the Army physical fitness test for the 17-to-21 age group.  However, there are waivers based on skills and abilities of the soldiers applying as prior enlisted or National Guard SFAS students. 

Age waivers are possible for those with prior military service. In some cases (especially in Special Operations), the veteran's active duty service number of years is subtracted from the age limit to determine the age requirement. For instance, a veteran with 5 years of service, who is 30 years old with broken service time, often will be considered 25 and granted age waivers for certain groups in the military.

Air Force PJ / CCT must be under the age of 28. However, any active duty service time can actually be subtracted to make the recruit eligible and within standards as above. 

For more information, see our article about U.S. Military enlistment standards.


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