Enlisting in the military is an intensely competitive process. If you are thinking of joining the military without a high school diploma, it may seem like the odds are stacked against you.
However, the military enlists General Equivalency Diploma (GED) holders as long as they meet a set of requirements.
So, how can you join the military with a GED?
To join the military with a GED, you need to undergo basic training for recruits who only hold GED certificates. Due to the huge number of military applicants with GED certificates, available positions may be limited. In such cases, your best bet for joining the military is to complete 15 college credits.
Although GED holders can still enlist in the military, they need to meet all other qualifications of the specific branch they are looking to join.
If you have been wondering how you can join the military with a GED, here are the various requirements you need to meet for each branch.
GED Requirements Per Military Branch
GED Requirements for Joining the Army
Joining the US Army is possible even if you don’t have a high school or college diploma.
However, you will be required to meet certain qualifications (medical and otherwise) to be considered eligible.
Recruits to the army are usually classified in three tiers:
Tier 1: Applicants who hold high school or college diplomas are generally categorized as tier one recruits.
Tier 2: GED holders without diplomas and high school dropouts are classified as tier 2.
Tier 3: No GED or High school diploma. This tier more or less doesn’t exist anymore.
If you are a GED holder with no college or high school diploma, you can raise your rank to tier one by completing 15 college credits.
Army recruits with GED certificates must also perform in the mandatory Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test in order to enlist.
This test is meant to evaluate whether a recruit has sufficient cognitive ability to serve in the army.
It also enables the army to determine what occupations (or MOS) a recruit might be most suited to given their abilities.
Whereas army recruits with high school or college diplomas only need a score of 31 and above to qualify, GED army recruits are required to score 50 percent and above in order to enlist.
Related Article – Army APFT Test Standards For Males and Females
GED Requirements for Joining the Navy
It is very possible to join the US Navy even if you do not have a high school or college diploma.
The Navy considers GED holders eligible to serve as long as they meet a set of special qualifications.
Apart from meeting the basic legal and physical requirements that apply to all branches of the military, GED recruits to the Navy must satisfy specific educational qualifications.
First, they must attain 15 college credits to be ranked tier 1, alongside recruits who possess college or high school diplomas.
In addition to this, GED holders must take the mandatory ASVAB military entrance test.
The ASVAB test is very rigorous, and requires adequate planning by all recruits looking to join the Navy.
Some of the aptitude tests administered by ASVAB include reading and comprehension, arithmetic reasoning and general science.
The use of electronic devices like calculators is not allowed during tests; therefore recruits must ensure they study adequately prior to taking the test.
If you are thinking about taking the ASVAB test as a GED holder, you should consult with your recruiter who will help you plan for the test.
The Navy has a list of diverse occupations (also called ‘ratings’) which you can qualify for according to your ASVAB score.
It is crucial to work on achieving a great score in order to increase the probability of getting considered for the occupation of your choice.
See a list of Navy jobs available by ASVAB score here.
Related Article – Navy PRT Standards For Males and Females
GED Requirements for Joining the Air Force
If you’re thinking about joining the Air Force, you should be aware that they have more stringent requirements for enlisting GED holders compared to other branches of the military.
In fact, the Air Force only recruits less than one percent of applicants.
Even so, you can still be considered eligible for service in the Air Force provided you meet specific qualifications.
To be recruited into the Air Force as a GED holder, you must complete 15 college units to be classified in the same tier as recruits with high school diplomas.
Related Article – Joining The Military After College: How To Do It The “Right” Way
In addition to this, GED holders are expected to pass the basic ASVAB military entrance exam with scores higher than those of high school diploma holders.
In most cases, recruiters first administer the ASVAB test to assess the cognitive abilities of the GED holder.
This allows the Air Force to evaluate whether the recruit is mentally fit to serve.
Additionally, the ASVAB score of a GED holder is used to determine the occupation (or AFSC) which he is best suited to in the Air Force.
See a list of the ASVAB scores and Air Force jobs that qualify here.
After the ASVAB score has been determined, the recruiter may recommend that the GED recruit take a semester at a community college and complete 15 credits.
This puts the GED applicant in the same tier as recruits who completed high school and attained diplomas.
Even after meeting these qualifications, all recruits to the Air Force must meet all the legal and physical requirements to be considered eligible to serve.
Noticing a trend here?
Related Article – Air Force PT Test Standards
GED Requirements for Joining the Marines
The United States Marine Corps (USMC) considers a GED as a basic qualification for enlisting.
While it is entirely possible for you to join the Marines without a high school diploma, you need to meet some additional requirements for your application to be accepted.
Currently, the USMC only allows less than 5 percent of recruits to serve without a high school diploma.
Related Article – Marine Corps Tattoo Policy: What IS and ISN’T Allowed
Like the other branches, enlistees to the Marine Corps are categorized into a three-tier system.
The first tier comprises recruits who hold diplomas, the second tier comprises recruits who are GED holders, and the third tier comprises recruits who do not have either of these educational requirements.
For you to be considered eligible for service in the Marine Corps, you must pass a mandatory ASVAB test with a score not less than 50.
See a list of the Marine Corps jobs and their ASVAB requirements here.
You can also increase your chances of being enlisted in the Marine Corps by enrolling at a local community college and completing 15 credits.
Attaining these credits will move you from the second tier of recruits and into the first tier with all the recruits who are high school diploma holders.
If you are seriously considering joining the Marine Corps without a high school diploma, consult with your recruiter to learn about all your options.
Your recruiter will help you prepare for the enlistment process. They will also advise you on how to prepare for the ASVAB test.
It is important to note that your ASVAB score determines your career and opportunities (also called MOS) available to you in the Marine Corps.
You should, therefore, take it very seriously and ensure you prepare adequately.
Related Article – Marine Corps PFT Standards
GED Requirements for Joining the Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard employs over 40,000 civilians and volunteers.
Although it is possible for you to join the Coast Guard with a GED qualification, you must meet all the other basic requirements, including citizenship status, age limit and pass all physical tests.
You may also face competition from enlistees with a high school or college diploma.
During recruitment, the Coast Guard determines which tier an applicant belongs to depending on their academic qualifications.
See a list of ASVAB scores for Coast Guard jobs here.
Applicants with high school or college diplomas are classified as tier one as long as they pass the Armed Forces Qualification Test with a score of 31 and above.
Conversely, applicants who are holders of a GED certificate must pass the compulsory military entrance exam with a score of 50 percent and above.
The Coast Guard has numerous career opportunities (aka ‘ratings‘) for GED holding recruits.
It is therefore essential that you pass the entrance test with a good score since this will increase the opportunities available to you.
Related Article: Coast Guard Height And Weight Requirements
You can also increase your chances of qualifying for enlistment in the United States Coast Guard by completing 15 credits at a local community college.
This will automatically change your status from a tier two recruit to a tier one recruit hence increasing your chances of being enlisted.
If you have any questions concerning the opportunities available for you in the United States Coast Guard, you should talk to your recruiter.
They will advise on any questions you may have pertaining to the enlistment process.
Moreover, they will help you in the preparation process and advise you on the best community colleges.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you join the Army with a GED?
You can join the Army with a GED, but the slots available to those without a high school diploma are limited. You will also need to score higher on the ASVAB: 50 percent vs. 31 for those with the diploma.
Can you join the Air Force with a GED?
The USAF only permits 1 percent of GED applicants to enlist, however, if you complete 15 college credits you will be classed as Tier 1 applicants along with graduates.
Can you join the Marine Corps with a GED?
The Marines considers a GED an equivalent, but only enlists 5 percent of those without a diploma. You will also have to score at least 50 on the ASVAB.
Can you join the Coast Guard with a GED?
Like most of the other branches, you can join the Coast Guard with a GED, but will have to score higher on the ASVAB than those with a diploma.
Can you join the Navy with a GED?
Like other branches, the Navy will allow recruits with a GED to enlist if they also have 15 college credits. They also limit the number of sailors they recruit without completed high school diplomas.
Joining the military without a GED may not be as easy. This, however, does not mean that it is entirely impossible.
Although the various branches of the military have different academic requirements for enlistment, the GED is considered a basic academic qualification.
There are numerous career opportunities available for GED holders.
Related Article – How to Join the US Military as a Non-Citizen
The outcome of your application to join the military without a high school diploma ultimately depends on your performance in the entrance tests as well as the college units you have completed.
You, therefore, need to prepare early enough if you wish to successfully enlist in the military as a GED holder.
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