Play 20 Questions with the Recruiter

Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland basic training graduation
U.S. Air Force basic military training graduates listen as they are addressed by Col. Michael S. Newsom, 737th Training Group commander, during an Air Force BMT graduation March 13, 2020, inside the Pfingston Reception Center auditorium at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. (Johnny Saldivar/502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs) offers a lot of information to help you decide whether you want to pursue a career in the military, but recruiters have the most current information on job availability, new deals and changing requirements. Once you decide to talk to a recruiter, you should arm yourself with as much information as possible, develop some idea of what you want and know the questions that you want answered. In general, your questions should help you:

  • Understand eligibility and military life
  • Pick the right service for you
  • Understand the jobs you're eligible for
  • Understand the benefits you can get
  • Get the best benefits package possible
  • Prepare for basic training and a military career

For starters, here are the questions that the Insider recommends asking:

1. How long do I have to enlist for? What's the minimum commitment?

Generally the minimum is two years, but the amount of benefits you receive directly relates to your commitment.

2. Am I eligible for any special enlistment programs or bonuses?

Make sure you tell the recruiter if you have ROTC, college or even Junior ROTC experience. Some services have programs that will allow you to enter at a higher pay grade than peers with no experience.

3. What do I have to score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test to qualify?

The minimum score varies annually based on need and candidate availability. Some specialties also require a particular score. Your recruiter should have the latest information on qualifying scores. Make sure you know what you need to score to qualify for the job you want.

  • See Ace the ASVAB

4. What are the major differences in pay, benefits and job opportunities between services?

While base pay and veteran benefits are the same across services; travel opportunities, job availability and promotion rates vary greatly. If you are considering more than one branch of the military, ask the recruiters the same questions and compare the answers.

5. Do you have films or literature about military life and particular jobs?

Most recruiters have videos and literature about their branch and particular jobs. In most cases, you either can check out the videos or watch them at the recruiting station. Remember these are promotional materials.

6. How long is basic training? Where is it? What is it like?

  • Air Force basic training is a little more than six weeks at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.
  • Army boot camp is nine weeks and occurs at a variety of places based on your specialties.
  • Coast Guard recruit training is eight weeks at the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May, N.J.
  • Marine recruit training is 13 weeks at Marine Corp Training Depots at Parris Island, S.C., and San Diego.
  • Navy basic training is eight weeks at Great Lakes Naval Training Center, Ill.

7. What physical fitness requirements must I meet to enter the military and succeed in basic training?

Physical standards vary from service to service. Have your recruiter spell it out for you.

8. What jobs are available?

Ask your recruiter about openings in these and related fields. Then, use the delayed entry program to get the training you want. Training programs are related to the job specialty to which you are assigned. You should ask your recruiter about the entire career path in that chosen field. Most military specialties have follow-on training as you gain expertise and rise in rank.

9. What are the possibilities for remote or overseas duty stations?

All services have overseas opportunities. Overseas service often is considered a "square to fill" for advancement. Ask your recruiter.

10. What are the training and advancement opportunities for jobs that I'm eligible for?

Military promotions are based on performance, time in grade and job knowledge. While the system is objective, certain specialties seem to fare better in promotion rates. Ask your recruiter how the promotion rates are in your chosen field and compare them to several other fields from which you may choose.

11. What would pay be like?

Military pay is no secret but can seem complicated for an outsider. Check out the guides to military pay for active duty, Reserve and Guard, then ask your recruiter to explain how temporary duty pay, hazardous duty pay and other special entitlements affect your bottom line.

12. Do I get paid while in training?

Military training is part of military service, and you receive your pay based on your grade and entitlements.

13. How much money can I get for college?

After checking our money for college section to see the many ways you can earn money for college, sit down with the recruiter and calculate how much you'll earn, based on the programs under which you enlist.

14. Can I take college courses or other training programs in the military?

Yes. The military will pay up to 100% of the first $4,500 in tuition costs for college courses you take in your free time. Most bases have extensive education programs to help service members. Remember, off-duty courses can't interfere with your military duties.

15. Are there any upcoming military events in the area, such as airshows, fleet weeks, etc.?

Recruiters often will have special deals for upcoming military events in your area. These good deals for potential recruits may include tickets to performances and passes to meet the Blue Angels, the Thunderbirds or Golden Knights, or during Fleet Week.

16. Can a friend and I go to basic training together?

Yes. Ask the recruiter about the "buddy program," which allows you to enlist together, go through training and even get advanced pay or bonuses.

17. What are the haircut or other appearance standards that will apply to me?

Military standards are strict but vary slightly from service to service.

18. What's the delayed entry program?

The enlistee can delay entry into active duty for up to one year (normally used by high school students). This program also can help you get the job you want or choose when you want to attend training.

19. What are the next steps?

Recruiters have no problem telling you what to do next. Have them draw you a road map. Then make your own decision without any pressure.

20. How can I get more information?

The best way to get the answers to your questions is to submit an online request -- no obligation -- for more information. Contact a recruiter near you.

Bonus Tip: Why not have the recruiter write down the answers to all your questions?

This will help you go over their answers later and compare answers across services. It also makes the recruiters think carefully about their answers.

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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