How long is basic training?
This is a question we here at OMK get very frequently, for good reason.
Unfortunately, the answer to the question depends on which military branch you intend to serve.
While there are several aspects of the U.S. Armed Forces that are universal across service branches, the length of boot camp is not one of them.
Instead, the length of basic training depends on the military branch and its own guidelines.
Learn more about how long basic training is for each military branch (along with a typical training schedule), below.
Table of Contents
How Long is Basic Training?
There is no simple answer or explanation to the question.
The reality is the military branch you enlist in also determines how long basic training lasts:
- U.S. Army
- Air Force
- Coast Guard
- Marine Corps
- U.S. Navy
- Space Force
For this reason, most recruits consider their branch the hardest type of military boot camp.
Nevertheless, they are all challenging regardless of the length of time it takes to complete basic training.
Furthermore, schedules are different for new members of the Army Guard, Air National Guard, and U.S. Reserves.
New recruits will find that basic training is challenging and strenuous, physically and mentally.
Thus, having the mental fortitude is just as important as displaying the physical capabilities to serve in the military.
Consequently, the best way to prepare for boot camp is to be prepared.
Thankfully, there are a variety of resources that help recruits get into shape and prepare for basic training prior to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS).
How long is basic training, you ask?
In general, basic training lasts between 7-13 weeks.
However, the specific length of time will vary on the military branch.
Moreover, the training schedule and list of tasks that need to be completed will also vary from branch to branch.
Be that as it may, there is a general sequence or order of events new recruits go through during military processing.
For starters, they deliver the final enlistment paperwork.
The Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) will conduct several examinations (medical, dental, psychological, etc) as well as get recruits caught up on immunizations (if necessary).
After you’re processed by MEPs, you’ll ship out to basic training. You may ship directly or at a later date after processing, depending on a number of factors. These factors could include medical or ASVAB test results, or simply to align with training schedules for your preferred branch.
Arriving at boot camp is often a revelation. You’ll get your first haircut with the military which is one of the strongest traditions of military service.
Then, recruits are usually directed to collect uniforms and training gear.
This initiation period, or “Week Zero,” is generally reserved for intake procedures as new recruits are processed into the military.
Notwithstanding, you’ll find that the expectations of military service begin immediately.
Orientation traditionally begins with lectures and presentations before starting work in the field.
Moreover, physical training (PT) will commence within the first few days so make sure you are physically prepared for service.
The goal is to avoid being “recycled” or dropped to a lower/previous training level when the recruit did not pass the evaluations of the previous, higher level.
Recycling delays advancement and makes your time at boot camp longer than the traditional recruit.
However, if you do fulfill all obligations of basic training, you’ll progress to graduation.
Basic training graduation is a fantastic moment to celebrate and enjoy the accomplishment with family and friends.
After all, it’s one of the rare occasions they are invited to the military base as well as one of the rare times you’ll see them in the next 3-4 years.
Now, let’s examine each military branch in more detail to learn about the basic training/boot camp schedule.
Army Basic Combat Training (BCT)
- Duration: 10 weeks
- Locations: Fort Benning (Georgia), Fort Jackson (South Carolina), Fort Leonard Wood (Missouri), Fort Sill (Oklahoma)
How long is basic training in the United States Army?
Army boot camp, officially known as Basic Combat Training (BCT), lasts approximately 10 weeks.
It’s important to note that this length of time does not include initial processing nor does it include time spent in advanced job training.
Therefore, you can estimate more like 10-12 weeks to meet standard qualifications, even longer for military careers that require advanced training.
Nonetheless, the initial 10 weeks will get you through the initial training and physical training (PT) of the U.S. Army.
Army boot camp takes place at several military bases throughout the United States.
The physical fitness requirements include being able to complete a 2-mile run along with other tests of physical fitness.
Zero Week (processing) leads into “fall in” where recruits are introduced to the rules and regulations of the Army.
Later, in the second week, you’ll meet your Drill Sergeant (DS) who will order you through the subsequent weeks of boot camp.
Members of the U.S. Army Reserves and National Guard endure a schedule comparable to the one enlisted Regular Army members go through.
Review the U.S. Army basic training schedule.
Air Force Basic Military Training
- Duration: 8.5 weeks
- Locations: Lackland Air Force Base (Texas)
Air Force boot camp, known as Basic Military Training (BMT), welcomes recruits into the service branch.
The U.S. Air Force currently incorporates recruits of Space Force into its training regime.
All in all, basic training in the Air Force is shorter than most military branches lasting only 8.5 weeks.
Previously, the basic training schedule was even shorter, lasting only 6 weeks.
There is only one location for basic training in the Air Force, at Lackland AFB, Texas.
The first week is loaded with in-processing (also referred to as their “Zero Week”).
Then, physical conditioning begins along with guided lectures and classroom assignments.
The physical fitness requirements include being able to complete a 1.5-mile run along with push-ups and sit-ups for 1 minute each.
Airmen’s Week finalizes basic training with a celebratory run and graduation.
Coast Guard Recruit Training
- Duration: 8 weeks
- Locations: Cape May (New Jersey)
How long is basic training in the U.S. Coast Guard?
USCG Recruit Training, or “forming”, is the shortest of any military branch.
All in all, it takes approximately 8 weeks to finish Coast Guard boot camp, including in-processing.
Despite the short time frame, Coast Guard boot camp is notoriously difficult especially because of all the swimming.
So, it’s really wise to make sure you are prepared for service, including practicing your swimming skills beforehand.
Coast Guard Recruit Training takes place at Cape May, New Jersey.
The military branch wastes no time whipping new recruits into shape as the first couple of weeks are considered among the most difficult.
The physical fitness requirements include passing a timed 1.5-mile run, push-ups, sit-ups, and a flexibility test.
Furthermore, there are multiple swimming requirements:
- 5-minute water tread
- 6-foot platform jump
- 100-meter swim
Coast Guardsmen must also pass a mid-term exam offered during the 4th week of basic training.
Then, the second half of the schedule is spent far more in the field developing hands-on skills.
During basic training, you’ll have the opportunity to select a preference for where you’ll serve next after Cape May.
Thus, recruits are already aware of their next assignment by the end of week 5 and focus largely on first aid and CPR training before leaving boot camp.
Finally, members of the Coast Guard Reserves can expect the same duration and intensity for its boot camp schedule.
Marine Corps Recruit Training
- Duration: 13 weeks
- Locations: The Recruit Training Depot – Parris Island (South Carolina), The Recruit Training Depot – San Diego (California)
Recruits in the U.S. Marines only have 2 options when it comes to a location for boot camp.
The Marines send every recruit east of the Mississippi to its Recruit Training Depot at Parris Island (South Carolina).
On the other hand, recruits west of the Mississippi attend the depot in San Diego, California.
Regardless, all female recruits attend the same location at Parris Island.
Marine Corps Recruit Training is by and far the longest of any military branch.
You’ll spend at least 13 weeks training to become a Marine, and this doesn’t include the four days of in-processing.
Marine boot camp is notoriously hard and demanding.
It generally ranks among the most challenging boot camps partly because of how long it takes to complete.
Marines must endure the longest endurance test of any branch (3-mile run) as well as perform well with other physical fitness requirements.
The U.S. Marines divides recruit training into 4 phases:
- Phase 1: In-processing, orientation, martial arts, and physical training
- Phase 2: Swim Week and confidence course
- Phase 3: Rifle marksmanship training, gas chamber training, and The Crucible
- Phase 4: Command-level inspections, final drill, martial arts qualification, graduation
During Week 7, recruits get the first opportunity to become familiar with an M16.
It’s part of the tradition of boot camp that “every Marine is a rifleman” (or rifle-person).
Lastly, the Crucible is worth mentioning as the final challenge new Marines must overcome to join the branch.
The 54-hour event involves a continuous challenge of survival and endurance.
Finalists are awarded the Eagle, Globe, or Anchor emblem based on performance.
Marines are very proud of the tradition of their boot camp as well as passing all its challenging requirements.
Navy Boot Camp
- Duration: 10 weeks
- Locations: Great Lakes Naval Training Center (Michigan)
How long is basic training in the U.S. Navy?
Navy Boot Camp lasts about 10 weeks depending on whether you count in-processing as part of the time.
While the first several days are mostly paperwork and examinations, you’ll still have drill instructors yelling and ordering you around.
So, it doesn’t take long before you’re introduced to the unique culture of the United States Navy.
Navy boot camp takes place on Lake Michigan, approximately halfway between Chicago, IL, and Milwaukee, WI on Lake Michigan.
The Great Lakes Naval Training Center is the only location for Navy boot camp, like how the Air Force and Coast Guard only have one destination.
The major events of Navy boot camp include basic conditioning, a “confidence course,” and Team Building Week.
The third week is spent on a training ship as sailors learn about life on big water.
Hence, new recruits of the Navy will develop the following skills:
- Basic Seamanship
- Water Survival
- Weapons Training
Later, Week 7 features Battles Stations, 12 separate challenging scenarios that recruits must solve and complete.
The physical fitness requirements of the U.S. Navy include tests on land and water.
In addition to a 1.5-mile run, push-ups, curl-ups, and a 500-yard swim.
Related Article – Navy Boot Camp Schedule Week To Week
Conclusion: How long is basic training?
How long is basic training?
It all depends on which military branch you want to serve.
The U.S. Army, Coast Guard, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps all feature their own version of boot camp.
In general, the length of basic training is between 8 and 13 weeks.
The Marine Corps (USMC) has the longest boot camp of any military branch (13 weeks).
Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard has the shortest (8 weeks) yet is equally demanding and strenuous.
Recruits begin earning military pay during basic training (after taking the final oath at MEPS).
For more questions or concerns about boot camp, feel free to reach out to a military recruiter.
A military recruiter from each branch can describe the advantages and disadvantages of their basic training schedule.
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