Military Age Limit: How Old is Too Old?

The minimum age to join the military will vary from country to country. In the United States, the minimum age to enlist in the military is at seventeen years old, with some exceptions or age waivers provided for those younger than seventeen. Our article today will talk about military age limits in the United States.

Minimum Age Permitted to Join the Military

In the US, a person must be 18 years old to enlist in the military without parental permission. This means that a 17-year-old can join the military at age 17 and receive a high school certificate, regardless of whether they actually earned it. However, if they are under 18, they must first obtain parental permission before they can join the military without it being waived.

Maximum Age Permitted to Join the Military

Any military branch’s oldest recruit must be 42 years old according to federal law. Each branch, however, is free to set its cap lower than the 42-limit. Each branch of the US Armed Forces has a varied age restriction for people without prior military experience. As a result, the maximum age to join the Army and Navy are different.

Military Branch Max                            Age to Join the Military
The US Army                                               > 35 years old
The US Navy                                               > 34 years old
The US Air Force                                        > 39 years old
The US Marine Corps                                > 28 years old
The US Coast Guard                                  > 32 years old
The US Space Force                                      TBD
Army Reserve                                             > 42 years old
Army National Guard                                 > 42 years old
Air Force Reserve                                       > 35 years old
Air Force National Guard                           > 40 years old
Navy Reserve                                              > 39 years old
Marine Corps Reserve                               > 29 years old
Coast Guard Reserve                                 > 39 years old
Army Special Forces                                  > 30 years old
Navy SEALs                                                 > 28 years old
Air Force CCT or PJ                                    > 28 years old
Army Reserve & National Guard Officer > 34 years old
Air Force Officer                                        > 39 years old
Air Force Reserve Officer                         > 39 years old
Navy Officer                                              > 42 years old
Navy Reserve Officer                               > 39 years old
Marine Corps Officer                               > 28 years old
Marine Corps Reserve Officer                > 28 years old

The US Marine Corps has the youngest age limits, as shown in the table, while the Air Force has the oldest. The Army, Navy, and Coast Guard all have age requirements that are in the middle of the spectrum, while the Space Force has no age restrictions as of yet because the branch is still in its early stages of development. For further information on your eligibility, call the branch or 800-423-8723.

Even if you are older than the minimum military age limit, you could still be able to enlist in the military. If you have the required training, education, and experience, your age can be “waived.” Waivers are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and a commanding officer will either approve or disapprove them.

Note: In general, waivers for age requirements that are authorised are those for high-demand positions in the legal, medical, and religious domains as well as those that are in professional occupations.

Military Age Requirements by Branch of Service

US Army Age Limits

Through a set enlistment procedure, the US Army accepts new recruits into the armed forces. The US Army is seeking recruits for the position who are between the ages of 17 and 35. As the optimum time to mould, train, and prepare someone to be a soldier in the modern world is when they are in this age range.

Those between the ages of 17 and 20 who wish to enlist must obtain parental consent in accordance with federal law. Your parents must sign your enlistment contract if you are between the ages of 17 and 20 and require parental consent.

A high school diploma or GED is also required for applicants between the ages of 21 and 29 before they may continue with the enlistment procedure. If you don’t meet these standards, you can still join the Army, but you’ll be put on a conditional basis, meaning you’ll have to finish your schooling within a certain amount of time before you can start your training.


Min Age: 17 years old (with parental consent)
Maximum Age: 35 years old


Minimum Age: 18 years old
Maximum Age: Less than 34 years old

US Air Force Age Limits

Right now, the Air Force is hiring individuals between the ages of 17 and 35. The Air Force looks to recruit people who can physically carry out the responsibilities of their positions. They are looking for people who can stand for 10 hours a day, lift 80 pounds, and are prepared for high-stress job settings.

A person must be between the ages of 18 and 34 in order to join the US Air Force as an airman. When a recruit signs a contract with the U.S. Air Force, they are required to be at least 17 years old for entry-level employment during their first year of service.

Additionally, minors under the age of 18 require parental consent to join an active duty. After completing 20 weeks of training, candidates for commissioning as officers must attend Officer Training School. You can start your job as soon as you are commissioned.


Min Age Limit: 17 years old
Maximum Age Limit: 35 years old


Min Age Limit: 18 years old
Maximum Age Limit: 34 years old

US Navy Age Limits

Currently, the US Navy is hiring people between the ages of 17 and 32. Only those who are intellectually and physically competent of executing their tasks will be accepted by the Navy. They need someone who can handle a lot of stress and long hours on a daily basis.

Anyone between the ages of 18 and 29 may serve as a naval officer. You must go to boot camp for six weeks after enlisting in the US Navy. Following that, you can continue your career training.


Min Age: 17 years old
Maximum Age Limit: 32 years old


Min Age Limit: 18 years old
Maximum Age Limit: Less than 30 years old (Under Secretary of the Navy Policy)

US Marine Corps Age Limits

Currently, the US Marine Corps is seeking applicants between the ages of 16 and 34. In the US Marine Corps, officers might be chosen based on their remarkable qualifications. However, in order to join this branch of the military, you must be at least 17 years old.

You must finish 11 weeks of basic training after enlisting. You will be required to attend Officer Candidate School for 5 weeks following the conclusion of your training before moving on to Officer’s School.


Min Age Limit: 17 years old
Maximum Age Limit: 34 years old


Min Age Limit: 18 years old (Under Secretary of the Navy Policy)
Maximum Age Limit: 34 years old (Under Secretary of the Navy Policy)

US Coast Guard Age Limits

At this time, the US Coast Guard is seeking applicants between the ages of 17 and 39. The US Coast Guard offers a wide variety of employment, therefore they are interested in people of many backgrounds.

The US Coast Guard seeks out people who are interested in environmental preservation. They also seek people who care about protecting lives and upholding the law in their local communities and around the nation.

One must be between 20 and 27 years old to join the US Coast Guard as a commissioned officer. One must be between the age limits of 18 and 39 in order to join the US Coast Guard as a non-commissioned officer. After joining the US Coast Guard, you will have to go through a 9-week boot camp. Following that, you can continue your career training.


Min Age Limit: 17 years old
Max Age Limit: 39 years old


Min Age Limit: 20 years old (Under Secretary of the Navy Policy)
Max Age Limit: Under 35 years old (Under Secretary of the Navy Policy)

Education Requirements

Currently, a person must be 17 years old to join the active Armed Forces. However, people may not be able to enlist at 17 due to educational restrictions. The active Armed Forces do not have a maximum enlistment age.

Prior to being drafted into the military, all applicants—regardless of their nation of origin or citizenship—must fulfil a number of conditions. These consist of:

Before being accepted into military duty, candidates must meet certain physical requirements and pass a physical examination. The purpose of this examination is to ascertain the candidate’s physical and mental skills. The results of a physical examination also influence whether a candidate is eligible to serve in the military.

To be admitted into military duty, candidates must also satisfy the particular qualifications of their position.

For consideration, candidates must pass a background check and a drug test (not all applicants qualify) to join the military.

A polygraph test is used to administer the Security Investigation, which assesses security threats.

A medical test is required for applicants. A military doctor conducts this in order to decide whether the candidate is eligible to enlist. No matter what their major (or employment) or level of postsecondary education is, all applicants must meet the standards for each of the three branches of the U.S. armed services.

Before being accepted for a military assignment, applicants must successfully complete a number of training courses. The length of these training varies greatly depending on the military speciality and the branch of duty. Basic training or specific service branches have no predetermined duration.

Those who have applied and been accepted into the service must also finish a 12-month enlistment term. This agreement, which details the applicant’s military obligations, becomes final with the fulfilment of the contract.

A 12-month enlistment is simply a technique to make sure that the applicant knows his/her military responsibilities before reporting for active service. Military personnel routinely change duty stations throughout their careers.

Military Branches Enlistment Considerations

The Army, Air Force, and Navy/Coast Guard are the three main branches of the American military. Before joining their service, prospective members of all branches of the armed forces must fulfil certain requirements for enlisting.

All three of the main U.S. military branches have educational standards that applicants must achieve, including possessing a “education equivalent” (i.e., GED) or a high school diploma that is at least four years long (not necessarily completed).

With regard to the eligibility for enrollment into each branch of service based on age and time restrictions as well as other variables like criminal histories and medical issues, applicants to these organisations are also constrained by United States citizenship requirements.

Additionally, there are several enrollment limits in the U.S. Military, which vary depending on the applicant’s age, length of service, and branch of the armed services. These requirements are put in place to make sure that applicants can finish an enlistment contract (or initial term of duty) without experiencing excessive hardship or needing special treatment.

By guaranteeing that enlisting won’t interfere with the applicant’s intentions for their school or profession, these limits aim to aid the candidate in making an informed choice.

Selective Service System

All males in the United States between the age llimits of 18 and 25 must register for the draught through the Selective Service System, or SSS, a federal organisation.

At military sites across the nation, Recruit Selection Boards (RSBs) speak with each candidate in-person. Only those candidates are qualified for enlistment who receive a favourable recommendation from an RSB.

Most enlisting requirements include having a high school diploma or a comparable degree and being between the ages of 17 and 34. Applicants must be citizens of the United States, unmarried, and free of any felony convictions, serious misdemeanour convictions, or drug-related offences.

Candidates must be clear of any infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis, and be able to successfully complete basic training without additional assistance.

Prior Service Enlistments

For individuals who have prior service enlistment, there are additional age waivers available. Depending on the quantity of prior years spent serving on active duty, the age requirement for veterans may be lowered.

So, for instance, a veteran who served for four years at the age of 32 can subtract four years from the maximum age allowed for the branch they plan to enlist in.

The maximum age for enlistment in the Army and Air National Guard when past service is taken into account is 59, whereas the maximum age for enlistment in the Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve when prior service is taken into consideration is 32.

Few individuals with prior credible military service are allowed to enlist in the American military. Prior service candidates must fulfil rigid conditions before submitting an application for enrollment.

There is no predetermined amount of time that a candidate must wait before applying to reenlist in the military, but most candidates must wait (sometimes) years between their initial term of enlistment and their subsequent term if they wish to serve in a different branch of the military or in a different specialty.

Before they can be considered for enlisting to join the military, individuals with prior service must also meet all enlistment standards for their age category and pass a physical exam.

The US military is working harder to find high school graduates and high school dropouts who have GEDs (General Educational Development diplomas). The military has been obliged to raise eligibility requirements in order to fill its ranks due to the rising demand for qualified troops.

A GED is a common option for applicants for a variety of factors. In the US, completing the prerequisites to graduate from high school has grown more challenging and time-consuming.

For instance, the majority of U.S. high schools only required four years of study in the 1950s, but by 1985, the requirement had expanded to five years. The typical American high school student would need to attend for 12 years in order to graduate in 2011.

The military increased its eligibility requirements for enrollment and started admitting applicants with a GED instead of a high school diploma or its equivalent in order to satisfy the growing demand for competent candidates.

When attempting to draw fresh recruits into their service branch, recruiters must also overcome obstacles. Some would-be recruits for the military believe that due to the expense and possible risks, joining would not be worthwhile.

Many prospective recruits decide against enlisting due to these worries and instead opt to join the military reserve, where they will be eligible for a federal subsidy and are allowed an unlimited number of reenlistments but will not be given consideration for regular duty assignments (i.e., commissioned officers and enlisted personnel).

However, according to recent studies, the average pay for all U.S. civilian employees is much lower than the pay earned by active duty military members.

Most candidates are qualified for immediate reenlistment if they obtained their GED at least three years before enrollment. The majority of candidates who submitted their GED applications more than three years prior to enlisting will still need to go to recruit training school (formerly known as “Basic Training”) before they are qualified to join the military.

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