Military Careers

branch logos
The Military is comprised of 12 Service branches: five Active Duty and seven part-time duty. Part-time duty consists of five Reserve and two Guard branches. Each branch varies greatly in service commitment, location and how its members contribute to the overall mission of protecting our country, though all branches are on the same rank-based pay scale.
Enlisting in the military is a major step in a person’s life. Before you make a decision to join, gather as much information as possible about the branch of the service that interests you. Each one differs in the specific program, terms of duty and enlistment options. Make certain your military commitment is based on sound information and realistic expectations. 

Reserve Officer Training Corps

Designed to help produce leaders and managers in the armed forces. Upon graduation members serve in active or reserve branches. During college students take a full course load including military science courses and training activities in exchange for scholarships every year. Scholarships are competitive and merit based on:

  • High School Transcript
  • SAT or ACT Scores
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Personal Interview

Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is a four (4) year program available through the Army, Navy or Air Force, at more than 400 public and private colleges and universities throughout the country. ROTC training consists of from 3 to 5 hours of military instruction per week, plus some summer training periods. ROTC graduates fulfill their military obligation after graduation by serving on active duty as reserve officers for stipulated periods of time, ranging from two (2) to eight (8) years.

Scholarships are available to entering freshman and also are awarded to qualified applicants who are already in college.
Students may also pay their own way through the four (4) years of college and then receive a commission upon graduation. 
ROTC programs provide the tuition, fees, books, and uniforms and pay a monthly stipend. 

Marine Corps Officer Training Program is offered through the Navy ROTC program. For further information regarding these Programs, see your counselor, or a recruiter, or go online to ROTC websites. 

Service Academies

Service Academies can be used to refer to all of the academies collectively. In popular use, however, this term is more often used for the academies of the four branches of the military: those of the Army, Navy and Air Force, under the Department of Defense, and that of the Coast Guard, under the Department of Homeland Security. These are the only four Academies whose students are on Active Duty in the Armed Forces of the United States from the day they enter the Academy, subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and eligible for all privileges and benefits of being members of an Armed Service.

The United States Coast Guard, and therefore the Coast Guard Academy, is a United States military service under the Department of Homeland Security but in time of war it can be places as a service in the Department of the Navy.
The Merchant Marine Academy is under the United States Maritime Administration, a part of the Department of Transportation. However, every student at the Merchant Marine Academy is appointed as a Midshipman, Merchant Marine Reserve, U.S. Navy Reserve, and has a requirement to serve eight (8) years in the military reserve, maintain a license as an officer in the merchant marine of the United States for at least six (6) years, and serve the foreign and domestic commerce and national defense of the United States for at least five (5) years. Graduates of the Merchant Marine Academy may also take their commission as an officer in the United States Navy, Untied States Coast Guard, United States Marine Corps, United States Army, United States Air Force, or the NOAA Commissioned Corps. If they choose the active duty option, USMMA graduates are obligated to a minimum service requirement of five (5) years. 

  • U.S. Military Academy at WestPoint, New York
  • U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland
  • U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • U.S. Coast Guard Academy at New London, Connecticut
  • U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York

Students accepted receive full ride scholarships and living stipend. Competition is fierce to get into these schools. There is a minimum of five (5) years of service after graduation. Admissions criteria:

  • High School Academic Performance
  • SAT or ACT Scores
  • Athletics
  • Nonathletic Extracurricular Activities
  • Leadership Positions
  • Community Involvement
  • Work Experience
  • Nomination by State Senator/Representative

Duty Commitments
Students at four Service Academies (not including Merchant Marine Academy) incur a minimum five (5) year active duty commitment and if in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard have an additional three (3) year reserve commitment. Kings Point graduates also have an eight (8) year total obligation, but although voluntarily entered by some, active duty is not required. The United States Marine Corps, a service under the Department of the Navy, does not have an academy of its own but instead commissions officers from Annapolis and Kings Point. If an Air Force cadet receives a pilot slot, they incur a ten (10) year commitment. Midshipmen who go on to become Naval Aviators in the Navy and Marine Corps owe eight (8) years from the time of earning their wings (the end of flight training) and seven (7) for those who become Naval Flight Officers. However, this commitment is independent of commissioning source; it also applies for NROTC graduates and OCS graduates who go on to become Naval Aviators or Naval Flight Officers.

Congressional Nominations
Applicants to all Service Academies, except the United States Coast Guard Academy, are required to obtain a nomination to the school. Nominations may be made by Senators, Congressmen, the President, and the Vice-President (The United States Merchant Marine Academy only accepts nominations from Senators and Congressmen). Applicants to the Coast Guard Academy compete in a direct nationwide competitive process that has no by-state quotas. 

Eligibility requirements typically include the following: age (17-22), good moral character, physical and academically qualified, not married, between 5’4” and 6’6” tall and weight within the allowable limits in proportion to height. There are also visual requirements, which are stricter for the Air Force than other academies. A medical examination and physical aptitude test must be taken. The ACT or SAT is also required. Most students who enter the academies are “appointed” to them by their congressional representative. In order to enter, a student should contact his/her senators and/or representative in the spring of his/her junior year in high school or in the fall of his/her senior year. You may write to any or all of them, stating that you are interested in an appointment and asking for an application and any additional information available. Deadline is October 1st of your senior year.

Active Duty (Full Time)
As the most time-intensive service commitment, Active Duty is similar to working at a full-time civilian job. Active-duty service members are full-time members of the Military, living on base or in military housing and immersed in military culture. After attending boot camp, they are stationed at a base either domestically or overseas. Active-duty terms typically last two to six years. The length of deployment varies depending on a unit's specific mission.

Reserve (Part Time)
As the newest type of service, the Reserve was created in the twentieth century to provide and maintain trained units at home while active-duty service members are deployed. Each active-duty branch of the Military has a Reserve component under their command, which is available for active-duty deployment in times of war or national emergency. Reservists are part-time service members, allowing them time to pursue a civilian career or college education while simultaneously serving their country. Members of the Reserve attend boot camp and are required to participate in training drills one weekend a month as well as a two-week program each year. Some active-duty service members switch to the Reserve to finish out their service commitment.

National Guard (Part Time)
The National Guard consists of the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard. The Guard’s main focus is on homeland security and humanitarian relief. In addition to training drills one weekend a month and two full weeks per year, National Guard units assist communities in their state during emergencies like storms, floods, fires and other natural disasters. During times of conflict, the president can federalize the National Guard and its service members can be deployed overseas. National Guard service members deployed overseas may see combat, but are also assigned noncombat humanitarian tasks, such as building schools and hospitals, training local peacekeepers and other community-building projects.


Find out as much as you can about each branch. Then go to the recruiters for additional information.

Important things to know:

  • What training programs are available?
  • Do you qualify for any of these programs? (Take the ASVAB test)
  • Will they guarantee in writing your training assignment before you enlist?
  • How much time will you have to spend as a reservist?
  • How much time will you have on active duty?
  • How much time will you have to spend as an in-active reservist? (No meetings or summer camp, but still in the 
    process of completing the full eight (8) year total obligation)
Signing enlistment papers is signing a legal document. Read the fine print about the length of enlistments, etc. 
© 2023. West Shore School District. All Rights Reserved.
School CMS Created by eSchoolView
Site Map
View text-based website