How to Prepare for Joining the Navy

by Morgan E. Westling about a year ago in navy

Are you considering joining the Navy or possibly one of the other branches in the armed forces? Here's some advice for how to prepare for joining the Navy.

How to Prepare for Joining the Navy

Joining the Navy is a huge decision for anyone to make. For most men and women making this choice, going through the enlistment process is their first experience as an adult after receiving their high school diploma. When you are getting ready to join the Navy, there are many requirements—mentally, physically, and emotionally. If you are joining the military, or if you specifically want to prepare for joining the Navy as an enlisted sailor, an officer, or even a Navy Seal, here’s a list of how to do so.

If you are preparing to join the Navy, it is very important to do your research. Spend time online or with a recruitment officer and get familiar with every detail of the enlistment process. Learn the difference between the reserves and active duty. Also, you’ll want to learn the difference between being a Naval officer and being enlisted in the Navy. Every service member has a different rank, and if you know the basics before beginning your Navy career, you’ll feel more on top of things moving forward. There are many things to consider when deciding whether to join the Navy, and doing research can only be beneficial to you in the long run.

You must be 18 years of age to join the Navy. You also must be legally residing in the United States, either as a citizen or as a non-citizen with a valid green card. Though you don’t need a high school diploma to join the Navy, you will have to take an aptitude battery (ASVAB) test, which will test basic mathematics knowledge, arithmetic reasoning, and other skills that one would traditionally learn in vocational school. The aptitude battery (ASVAB) is not meant to be difficult, but to make sure every service member is mentally capable of military service. Your recruitment officer will help you organize the rest of your paperwork as well, including bank statements, transcripts, identification, etc.

Fitness is important when you prepare for joining the Navy regardless of if you end up in a job that requires physical activity. Everyone in the armed forces must be somewhat physically fit at the beginning because everyone must go through boot camp and take a physical fitness test. To prepare for the beginning of your Naval career, stay on top of your fitness before being sent to basic training. Make sure you can pass a physical fitness test. If you are wanting to go towards the Navy Seal route, consider using Stew Smith’s workout routines to get into the best shape of your life. He is a former Seal and many Navy men and women swear by his workouts. As you go through the enlistment process, your fitness should be a top priority.

Emotionally, when you prepare for joining the Navy, it can be draining. You will be away from family and friends for a long time when attending boot camp, and possibly officer training school, too. Your body will be going through a lot. Also, you will mentally have to get used to a whole new way of life. Now that the Navy has control over everything you do, you’ve lost a lot of your personal freedom (even if it is for a good cause.) This can be hard to adjust to emotionally.

Medically, the military has set many requirements to make sure our service members are in the best shape when they prepare for joining the Navy. After meeting with a recruitment officer, you will go to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) where they will give a full medical evaluation. If you are in good health and don’t have any pre-existing mental or medical conditions that would prevent you from serving effectively, you should pass this part of the process.

Once your recruitment officer has qualified you for joining the Navy, you will get the chance to choose what your job in the Navy will be. There will be a list of available jobs to choose from, so while you should go in with some idea of what you want, make sure to keep your options open. Certain job fields can be more competitive than others, and are given preferentially to service members based on their physical fitness scores or their ASVAB scores. Other jobs such as EOD, Rescue Swimmer, and Navy Seals require additional training and testing.

When packing for basic training as you prepare for joining the Navy, remember the essentials. Toiletries, paper, pens, a few days’ worth of civilian clothes, a cell phone for the rare times you do get to call home, and any personal essentials you may require. Other important information is knowing what not to bring to basic training when you are about to become a new service member of the armed forces. Don’t bring tobacco of any kind, alcohol, food, makeup, personal running shoes, magazines, or jewelry. This is good advice about joining the military in general, and it is crucial to remember that basic training is meant for just that—the basics.

When you prepare for joining the Navy, it is a known fact that you’ll have to endure basic training. No, it won’t be fun, but you will survive it. Everyone who has enlisted in the military has gone through this process, so try to remember that this is something that will unite you with your service members. Boot camp for enlisted Navy sailors is held at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois. Officer recruits attend either Officer Candidate School or Officer Development School. During basic training, lay low and be obscure during the process. Be prepared to get dirty and be challenged to your core, but know that you will come out on the other end of basic training as a much stronger version of yourself. You will join the Navy and become an active duty service member.

When preparing for joining the Navy, it is important to think ahead to what your salary will be as an active duty service member and how you will manage your money. Make sure to have someone help teach you how to plan for retirement, make the most of your military benefits right away, manage your taxes, and spend your paycheck wisely. It is likely that you will be making very little to start out, so be frugal and smart.

When you prepare for joining the Navy, it is an extremely big decision for anyone to make, but many military service members will tell you that it is one of the best decisions they’ve ever made. Joining the military gives you a wider view of the world that will make you a more conscious citizen. It will help you adapt to all situations you are thrown into. Most importantly, joining the Navy will teach you a lot about yourself as an individual. It might not be the right choice for everyone, but for many, it’s more than worth it.

Morgan E. Westling
Morgan E. Westling
Read next: A Comedy of Errors in the British Army UOTC, Part 5
Morgan E. Westling

Avid Reader, Freelance Writer/Editor, and Lifestyle Blogger

See all posts by Morgan E. Westling