What is the Hardest Branch of Military? [Ranked]

Boot camp is undoubtedly one of the first images that come to mind when you think of the military. Boot camp is the military’s method of preparing you physically and emotionally for life in the armed forces and is also referred to as “basic training.”

How difficult is basic training, too? It depends on whom you ask, though, as much military training is anything but elementary.

One of the most frequently asked questions among aspiring service members is “What is the hardest branch of the military?” This article is for you whether you want to join the most difficult military branch to challenge yourself or stay away from it to keep things manageable.

The Marine Corps is the branch of the military with the most difficult training for women due to male domination, and the Air Force has the highest educational requirements for entry. Our article today on the hardest branch of US military will provide detailed insights on the different military branches and their difficulty.

What is the Hardest Branch of the Military?

The Air Force has the strictest criteria in terms of schooling. Expecting to join this branch of the military without a high school diploma graduation is unrealistic. Additionally, passing the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery is extremely challenging. As a result, of the five main US military branches, the Air Force is the most difficult to join.

US Marine Corps

This is known as recruit training in the Marine Corps. Its duration is longer than that of the Army and Navy at 12 weeks. There are a total of 3 phases. The first phase discusses the history, daily activities, and values of the Marines. You also start training for both physical and mental endurance right away.

Your swimming proficiency, marksmanship, drills, and the gas chamber exercise are all covered in the second part. Your last drill, when you demonstrate all you learned during boot camp and the 54-hour crucible, is included in the final phase.

The training regimen for recruits is led by a drill instructor and includes swimming, martial arts, and gas chamber drills. In addition, recruits must learn how to shoot and take rifle marksmanship classes.

In the final stage, recruits compete in a 54-hour field survival challenge that combines knowledge tests and fitness evaluations. Most people concur that the Marine Corps undergoes the most rigorous physical and marksmanship training.

To make sure you have the physical stamina to make it through boot camp, you must pass the Physical Fitness Tests before you even have the chance to join the Marines.

The minimum ASVAB test score required by the Marines is 32, which is among the lower values that are admissible across all military branches. Additionally, the Marine Corps has the strictest age requirements because recruits cannot be older than 28.

The fact that former Marines who transfer to another branch do not need to repeat boot camp training, in contrast to former members of other branches who transfer to the Marine Corps, is another reason the Marine Corps is regarded as the most difficult branch of the military.

The Marine Corps also mandates advanced training, which is equally demanding and challenging as basic training.

It’s also important to take into account the Marine Corps, which is the most difficult branch of the military for women due to exclusivity and male dominance. The sixth, most recent branch of the military is the Space Force, which is more open to women.

So in a way, if you’re a woman trying to make it in an archaic “men’s world,” it’s the least challenging military branch.

Tough Jobs Within Marine Corps

Even if you survive Marine boot camp, the struggle may still be ahead of you. We discuss a few of the tough Marine MOSs training options available.

USMC Combat Engineer (MOS 1371)

Combat Engineers are experts in the use of explosives, recovery, and the construction and destruction of structures. Combat engineers frequently fight alongside infantrymen on the front lines. Additionally, a USMC combat engineer attends all levels of advanced training and apply what they learn on the front lines.

USMC Scout / Sniper (MOS 0317)

Another tough Marine MOSs training with exceptional shooting instruction is Scout Snipers. To become a sniper, you must be a member of the infantry, and you must hope that the Marines will give you the chance to go through a screening process to pick out the best candidates. Then, you might enrol in sniper school, which has a low passing rate.

US Army

This is known as basic combat skills training in the Army. It lasts for 10 weeks on average. The recruits meet their drill sergeant after learning about military regulations and procedures.

He or she will be in charge of improving the recruits’ psychological and physical well-being. Here, exercises like timed 2-mile runs, 2-minute sit-ups, and 2-minute push-ups are acceptable.

Then, recruits are instructed on how to handle firearms and fire from various positions. They will need to succeed in two courses: the Fit to Win Obstacle and the Basic Rifle Marksmanship Qualification.

The focus will eventually shift to developing teamwork and combat skills. Recruits must complete a three-day challenge called Victory Forge in order to graduate. Graduation starts in week 10 of the training.

The Army has the lowest ASVAB score requirement, which is 31, therefore those who perform poorly may have success there. Additionally, the Army’s highest age limit is 35 years old, making it one of the higher ages at which a recruit can still enlist.

Tough Jobs in the US Army

Special Forces

Many people who enlist in the military hope to join the special armed forces. However, the training that must be completed before entering the actual special forces training is intended to select out all but the greatest candidates. But that does not imply that those who fail are weak people. The failure rate indicates how challenging the training is.

US Navy

It’s known as boot camp in the navy. At 8 weeks, it is a little less time-consuming than Basic Combat Training in the Army. Your in-processing, or when all the paperwork is completed, is your first experience at boot camp for the Navy.

After that, you develop a routine. You initially take classes and learn about Navy life and how to function there. Then you complete your initial swimming requirements, learn how to march, and put in a lot of physical preparation.

You advance via fundamental conditioning, a confidence course, a week of team building, and practical instruction. You eventually go on to the marksmanship exam, ship damage control, and making preparations for your future careers in the Navy.

This will involve studying every aspect of ships, including their anatomy, first aid procedures specific to ships, semaphore, etc.

You then go through a drill inspection and a tonne of testing at the conclusion of Navy boot camp to make sure you learned everything you need to know to advance in the Navy.

You will take an intellectual test, a live-fire training exercise, and a physical training test in the middle. In order to pass the Battle Stations test, you must navigate through 12 different scenarios. You become a Sailor instead of graduating like in the Army, and you’ll get a US Navy ball cap.

Tough Jobs in the Navy

The Navy, like the other branches of the military, has its own unique set of difficult jobs (referred to as “Ratings” or “Rates”) including:

Nuclear Field

The Navy’s nuclear field is one of the more difficult to break into. Both officers and enlisted soldiers can work in this field, which has a variety of standards.

You may be an electronics technician, an electrician’s mate, or a machinist’s mate as an enlisted sailor. You must perform well on the math, science, and electronics portions of the ASVAB exam in order to enter this area.

After completing boot camp, one enters “Nuke School,” the first phase of advanced instruction. The following schools range in length from three to six months and depend on where region of Nuke you are in.

Additionally, there is still a six-month training programme where students can gain first-hand experience running a nuclear propulsion plant after they graduate from the second school.

Navy Seal

Special Warfare is another challenging Navy position. Close to 8,000 sailors make up the Special Warfare community. The Special Warfare Operators, or SEALs, represent a lesser proportion of the community, though (about 2,400 active-duty).

It’s difficult to even reach the Special Warfare training (BUD/S). Making it through SEAL training, though, is a completely different matter.

US Air Force

This is known as basic military training in the Air Force. It takes, on average, 8.5 weeks. The Air Force undergoes more dispersed training than the Marine Corps. A training teacher is introduced to the recruits, who then learn about the background and responsibilities of the Air Force while improving their physical and mental well-being.

Training for the Air Force lasts just over eight weeks. Air Force recruits learn new skills every week. Your stay in Air Force boot camp at Lakeland Air Force Base begins with a physical fitness evaluation to determine where you now stand. You will also gain a rudimentary understanding of Air Force traditions and other standards.

After that, you start attending classes where you will learn about the history, weapons, drills, and physical conditioning of the Air Force. You take a physical fitness test around week three, and if you don’t do well, you risk being moved to a new group. As your training progresses, you learn battle techniques.

In the end, everything you learn prepares you for the last week, when you put all you’ve learned during Air Force boot camp to the test. You will proceed to Advanced Individual Training after completing Air Force basic training (or AIT).

One of the ASVAB test’s more stringent standards is for the Air Force. To participate, you must have a minimum score of 36. However, you may be able to join the Air Force if you are under 39 years old.

Tough Jobs in the Air Force

The Air Force offers a variety of MOS options, some of which are rather demanding.

Cyberspace Defense Operations (1B4X1)

For instance, managing the Air Force’s cyberspace capabilities is what a career in Cyberspace Defense Operations entails. You can manage command and control of cyberspace forces and operations in addition to guarding against cyberattacks.

People in the Air Force sector frequently have a lot of STEM expertise, and some have taken some technology-related college courses. An apprentice must complete 66 days of technical training. Throughout your career, you will receive ongoing and continual training in the field.

SERE Specialist (1T0X1)

The Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) Specialist is another challenging career path in the Air Force. The aim of a SERE Specialist is to teach others how to live under any circumstance. In this line of work, you are an expert in difficult environments and possess the skills necessary to finish a job even when things do not go according to plan.

However, the ASVAB’s General Knowledge portion has a cutoff score of 55. Before you are given a chance to apply for this position, you must also pass a physical abilities test of your physical stamina and aptitude.

You have a SERE Specialist training orientation course if you succeed. After that, you have an apprentice course in Washington that lasts for over six months, during which you will gain expertise in your MOS.

US Coast Guard

In terms of physical fitness, the Coast Guard may be thought of as the easiest military branch to join, yet it is by far the most difficult. The smaller size of this coast guard military branch enables them to be a little bit more selective in who they admit (and who they don’t).

The A to Z process of being a coast guard takes around 8.5 weeks, and the Coast Guard refers to this as recruit training. Under the supervision of the company commander, recruits undergo extensive physical training.

The first week of Coast Guard training is often regarded as the most difficult by recruits. The first week is when candidates start their tough academic work and physical fitness. The essential knowledge is put to a rigorous exam, which is just as crucial as the fitness evaluations.

Before beginning their hands-on instruction in things like shooting, seamanship, line handling, and firefighting, coast guard candidates must pass a midterm exam. Their preferences for potential service sites are then included on an Assignment Data Card, which is then submitted. They receive first aid and CPR instruction at the conclusion.

Tough Jobs in the Coast Guard

The Coast Guard has many challenging positions, but there are a few that stand out.

Aviation Survival Technician (aka Rescue Swimmer)

The work of coast guard rescue swimmers, sometimes known as aviation survival technicians, is physically taxing. They must therefore maintain excellent physical condition, and they must pass examinations every month to demonstrate their readiness.

The standard sit-ups and push-ups are part of the monthly exam. Rescue swimmers must, however, prove they can swim 200 yards while pulling a friend and 500 yards in 12 minutes. They must also be able to swim 25 yards underwater.

In order to prepare for the Rescue Swim course, there is a four-month course included in the Rescue Swimmer programme. If you successfully complete the initial course, you advance in your training.

Is the Toughest Military Branch the Most Dangerous?

The most dangerous military branch is not necessarily the hardest. When evaluating danger in the military, units pose a greater threat than broad military branches.

Particular employees, such as pararescue jumpers, face more risks on a daily basis. Instead of fleeing from danger, these members run for it. To assist other injured and/or lone soldiers, they immediately head towards the red zones.

Bull-heading direct action missions and focusing on enemy leaders exposes special operations, which includes personnel from all branches of the military, to significant risks. Other examples of high-risk military formations are infantrymen, combat engineers, and ordnance disposal teams.


Although our article today has provided answers for the hardest military branch in a variety of ways, ultimately it is up to YOU. Hard is a relative term. Something could be difficult for you but easy for someone else, and vice versa. Therefore, avoid ingraining this article as a preconceived notion.

Every branch of the military presents a difficulty. Every prospective hire possesses a unique set of skills and competencies. As a result, what one person considers “difficult” may not be a struggle for another.

One must take into account the physical rigours of boot camp and the fundamental standards that can prevent someone from being accepted into a military branch while considering the challenging challenges of military branch training and life.

Your plans and expectations may have an impact on how difficult a military branch is. If you prepare beforehand with study, exercise, and the correct attitude, “hard” might not be as unpleasant.

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