Age Limit For Military: Everything To Know
In this article, we discuss military enlistment age limits, explain exceptions, and describe waivers if you are considering enlisting in the military.
Why does the military have an enlistment age limit?
Minimum and maximum military enlistment age limits for potential enlistees ensure they have had the opportunity to meet their minimal education requirements and are in good physical condition. The goal is to recruit educated, able-bodied enlistees, minimize the risk of injury, and reduce their recovery time if injured.
Federal law establishes the maximum military recruitment age to be 42, although each service branch ultimately decides the minimum and maximum age limits for service in that branch. Federal law also states that the minimum recruitment age is 17, with parental consent. Federal law provides provisions that for almost all male U.S. citizens ages 18-25 living in the United States, there is a requirement to register with the Selective Service System. This system exists so the U.S. can perform a crisis draft if necessary.
Even though almost all male U.S. citizens register with the Selective Service System as a requirement, this doesn’t mean they’re part of the military. If they’re drafted through a random lottery and via age restrictions, then they undergo physical, mental, and moral aptitude tests before being inducted, exempted, or deferred for service.
Cut Off Ages For Military
The minimum age to enlist in all but one U.S. military branch is 17 years old with the written consent of a parent or 18 when a person can provide legal consent for themselves. If you’re interested in joining the U.S. Navy Reserves, it has a minimum age requirement of 18.
Active duty enlistment
Age Limit To Join The Military
Air Force Age Limit 17-39
This branch includes the Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard. The Air Force was part of the Army until it was made into its branch in 1947. Its primary purpose is to defend the United States through air and space. To accomplish this, the Air Force uses planes, helicopters, and satellites to maintain air superiority. The Air Force also controls an arsenal of strategic nuclear ballistic missiles.
The Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard are reserve members who can be called upon by the Air Force for full-time service when needed.
Army Age Limit 17-35
This branch includes the Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard. The Army, the oldest U.S. military service branch, was established on June 14, 1775, by the Continental Congress during the Revolutionary War. The Army is also the largest U.S. military branch. The primary purpose of the Army is to protect and defend the United States and its land interests. To accomplish this, the Army can deploy light infantry, tanks, artillery, and helicopters to move into an area, clear it, and hold a position.
Like the Air Force, the Army Reserve and Army National Guard are reserve members who can be activated by the Army for full-time service when needed. The difference between the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard is that the federal government controls the Reserve, and the individual states control the National Guard. Even though the states govern the National Guard, its members can still be called upon for national service by the Secretary of Defense in a time of need.
Coast Guard Age Limit 17-42
This branch is made up of the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve. The Coast Guard is the smallest of the military branches and is listed under the Department of Transportation. The primary mission of the Coast Guard is to protect domestic waterways. During peace times, Coast Guard mission includes law enforcement, drug interdiction, boating safety, water rescues, and illegal immigration deterrence.
Marine Corps Age Limit 17-28
This branch comprises the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Reserve. Like the Army, the Continental Congress established the Marine Corps on Nov. 10, 1775. The Marine Corps is known as the U.S.’s rapid-reaction force and is often one of the first members to enter combat. Members of the Marine Corps are trained to fight on land and at sea. They are relied upon to make amphibious landings, attacking and capturing beachheads to make an attack pathway to the enemy from nearly any direction.
Navy Age Limit 17-41
This branch is made up of the Navy and the Navy Reserve. Like the Army, the Continental Congress established the Navy in 1775. The primary purpose of the Navy is to protect U.S. interests in the oceans and seas around the world and make them safe for both travel and trade. The Navy deploys a diverse fleet of aircraft carriers, battleships, submarines, and aircraft to accomplish this.
During times of war, the Navy can supplement the Air Force because they can use aircraft carriers to deploy the Air Force to areas where fixed runways can’t be established. The Navy is also used to transport Marines to areas of conflict. The Navy can call upon Navy Reserve members for full-time service during times of need.
Space Force Age Limit 17-39
The Space Force was established on Dec. 20, 2019, as a Department of the Air Force and is the smallest branch of the services. Only active-duty troops in the Space Force have no Reserve or Guard component yet established. The Space Command oversees critical satellite infrastructure, missile warning systems, intelligence-gathering capabilities, and meteorology.
The Space Force is a military service that organizes, trains, and equips forces to protect U.S. and allied interests in space and to provide space capabilities to the joint force. Branch responsibilities include acquiring military space systems, maturing the military doctrine for space power, and organizing space forces to present to the U.S. Defense Department’s Combatant Commands.