So you’re thinking about joining one of the branches of the Armed Forces, but you have absolutely no idea where to start.
One of the first things anyone will tell you if you’re thinking about joining the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines is common sense advice: talk to a recruiter.
Recruiters know the ins and outs of their respective branches, and can answer literally any question you may have.
However, what exactly should you ask them when you get there? You want to be sure you’re getting all the information you need to make an informed decision.
Going in to your first meeting with a military recruiter without a list of questions is about as smart as it sounds.
We’ve compiled this complete list of “41 Questions You Should Ask Your Recruiter” from a wide variety of sources, including:
- Military branch official websites
- Forums like Reddit, Quora, and Rally point
- Former recruiters from all branches of the military
- Youtube videos
- and many more
If you already have your heart set on a particular branch, simply click on the branch below and it will take you to the questions you should ask.
If you’re still undecided about which branch to join, you might want to check out this article.
It details things like what basic training is like, cool jobs you can do, what a typical day is like, and more, for each branch of the military.
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Questions You Should Ask An:
FAQ About Visiting A Military Recruiter
Questions You Should Ask ANY Recruiter, Regardless of Branch
(Note: Click Here for a printable version of these questions you can take to the military recruiters office with you.)
1. Why should I join the (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines)?
This is actually one of the most important questions you can ask. After all, you’ll be spending the next 4 – 20 years of your life if you decide to commit to a branch. Of course, the recruiter will try to paint a very good picture. But prod him or her for the downsides as well.
2. What are the requirements for joining?
Every branch has their own unique requirements. Everything from height / weight, age, health condition, and ASVAB scores are taken into consideration, to name just a few.
3. What is the minimum length of my service commitment?
Most branches require a 4 year commitment to join. With that said, if you’re looking to do a specific job (like be a pilot or Navy SEAL), sometimes they will require you to sign on for longer.
4. How long is boot camp / basic training?
The vast majority of boot camps last somewhere in the range of 8 weeks, but it does vary from branch to branch.
5. Can I choose when to go to boot camp?
In some cases, you might want to join up at a specific period of time. For example, you might want to get one more summer in. Or, you might want to spend Christmas with your family before shipping off to boot camp. The military recruiter will let you know if it’s possible to go in at a specific time frame.
6. Where will I be stationed after boot camp? Do I have a choice?
Some recruiters will tell you that they can guarantee you a specific location. If this is the case, get it in writing! Recruiters will say almost anything to get you to join.
7. Will I ever be deployed? If so, where to?
Since war has been winding down for the US the last few years, it’s unlikely that you’ll be deployed to some foreign hotspot in the near future. But it’s a good idea to ask this in the event this changes.
8. I want to be a (insert whatever job you’re looking to do). What is the minimum ASVAB score I need?
If you’ve already taken the ASVAB, you should ask what jobs you would qualify for if you’re unsure of what you want to do in the military. If you have a specific job you’re looking to do, ask if your ASVAB scores qualify for it.
9. Can I talk with someone that does the job I want?
You may think you want to be a Navy Air Traffic controller or an Air Force intelligence officer, but do you really know what the job entails? Ask if you can get a phone number or email for someone that’s been doing the job for several years. There’s no way that the recruiter is going to know exactly what it’s like to serve in a specific job, so this is your best bet to find out what it’s really like.
10. What will I be paid? Are there any bonuses or incentives for specific jobs?
Generally speaking, the pay is the same in every branch of the military, and is contingent upon your rank and length of service. With that said, certain in-demand jobs usually offer bonuses. In some cases, those bonuses can approach upwards of $20,000!
Note: The below only apply in specific conditions / scenarios
Medical / Other Dis-qualifiers
1. Can I join if I have (insert your medical condition here)? Examples may include ADHD/ADD, Asthma, Flat Feet, or any other medical condition. In most cases, waivers are possible. But you won’t know for sure until you ask.
2. Can I join the (insert service branch here) if I have a felony? (read our article on this here)
The answer to this question tends to vary based on the nations current state (war or peacetime), and military branches like the Army and Marines have been known to relax the conditions.
3. Can I join the (insert military branch here) if I have a DUI?
Somewhat related to the above, but again, it varies per branch.
4. Can I join if I have bad vision or wear glasses?
Most military branches have relaxed requirements when it comes to vision. However, some specific jobs require perfect vision without the need for glasses or contacts. It’s better to find out the answer before the ink on your contract dries.
5. Can I join with a friend and go to basic training together?
Obviously only applies if you have a friend of colleague that is interested in joining the same branch as you. Most military branches allow this, but of course there’s no guarantee.
1. Can you tell me about the GI Bill? How does it work?
The GI bill is one of the main reasons why young recruits sign up in the first place. If you’re looking to attend college or trade school after your time in the military is up, it’s important to know what to expect.
Related Article: Top 20 Reasons To Join The Military
2. Can I pick what college I can go to?
The GI bill may have some limitations on where you can attend. Additionally, the GI bill can only be used for college courses that count towards your degree. This may sway your choice on what college you might want to attend.
3. Do I have to use my GI Bill or can I save it?
The answer to this question is almost always “yes, you can save it”. This is beneficial because, while you might not want to go to college, you’re spouse or your kids might. But double check with your recruiter to be sure.
Questions You Should Ask A Marine Recruiter
Note: Click Here for a printable version of these questions to bring with you to the Marine recruiters office.
1. What’s Marine Basic Training like?
Marine basic training (aka recruit training) is considered the toughest out of all of the military branches. It’s a good idea to find out what sort of physical condition you should be in before you stand on the footprints!
2. Will I go to Parris Island or San Diego for recruit training?
Generally speaking, if you’re east of the Mississippi you’ll go to Parris Island, and west of the Mississippi you’ll go to San Diego. With that said, if you live in any of the states that the Mississippi runs through, you might go to either.
3. What happens after marine boot camp?
This will vary dramatically, and will ultimately depend on what MOS you choose (or gets chosen for you).
4. What’s the average drop out rate for recruits?
It’s a fact that a certain percentage of Marine recruits will simply not have what it takes to be a Marine. That percentage varies from year to year, and the Marine recruiter will have the most up to date info on that.
5. What are the best jobs for me in the Marines?
Again, this will be contingent upon how well (or how poorly) you score on the ASVAB. A higher score will guarantee more job opportunities, while a lower score will limit your options significantly. Other things should be taken in to consideration, like your personality, interests, and potential career opportunities after service.
6. Does my MOS have a bonus?
In the Marines, an MOS stands for Military Occupational Specialties. It’s a fancy word for job. As I mentioned earlier, every branch (including the Marines) offer bonuses for specific jobs. Ask the recruiter up front to be straight with you, and let you know if the MOS you want currently has a bonus.
7. What are the benefits after my time in the Marines is up?
Aside from the GI bill, every branch of the military has their own set of benefits for veterans of the service. The Marine recruiter will be able to outline them in full detail.
Questions You Should Ask An Army Recruiter
Note: Click Here for a printable version of these questions to bring with you to the Army recruiters office.
1. Can you explain what happens in Army boot camp? (aka Basic combat training)
Just like with the Marines, knowing what kind of physical shape you should be in is a plus. The Army recruiter should be able to walk you through the entire process from start to finish.
Related Article: How Hard Is Army Basic Training? One Soldier Recounts His Story
2. Do I have to get a haircut?
This question really only applies to women, as men are required to get a haircut in every branch of the military.
3. What happens after boot camp?
Some Army recruits will go straight to a division or brigade right out of boot camp. Others, depending on what job you end up with, will have a much different path.
4. I want to be a (insert your future job here). What MOS should I choose?
If you want to be a cop, you might want to go the Military Police route. If you want to be a doctor / nurse, you’ll want to go the Army Medic route. This assumes, of course, that your ASVAB score qualifies you for the job.
5. Can I go to college while I’m in the Army?
This question really applies to all branches, but the Army does have some special incentives to help you with your continuing education.
6. Where will I be based after boot camp? Can I choose where I want to go?
The Army has bases all over the world, including some of the nicest places on Earth. You may want to go to Hawaii, but they may end up sticking you in Kansas instead. It’s better to know this info beforehand.
Questions You Should Ask An Air Force Recruiter
Note: Click Here for a printable version of these questions to bring with you to the Air Force recruiters office.
1. What’s Air Force basic training like? (aka BMT)
The Air Forces’ basic military training is considered to be easier compared to the other branches. With that said, it’s no picnic either. You’ll want to know what kind of physical condition you should be in, what a typical day is like, etc.
2. What are my chances of becoming a pilot? (optional)
A good chunk of those looking to join the Air Force are looking to join for one reason only: the become a pilot. What you might not realize is, so does everyone else! The Air Force recruiter will have up-to-date info on the amount of pilot slots available, as well as give you your chances of landing one of those slots.
3. Where will I be based? Can I choose where I want to go?
The Air Force has bases all over the world. You could be based in Japan, Europe, or even Alaska. In some cases, you might be able to choose where you end up.
4. What will my living conditions be like?
Unlike the other branches, in most cases you’ll have a pretty sweet setup. Air Force bases usually have condo-like accommodations for airmen, and in some cases you might even be able to live off base.
5. Can I take my spouse / significant other / family if I’m deployed overseas?
In the Marines and Army, the answer to this question is almost always no. In the Air Force, things are a bit different. If you’re currently married and/or have children, you may be able to bring them with you overseas.
Questions You Should Ask A Navy Recruiter
Note: Click Here for a printable version of these questions to bring with you to the Navy recruiters office.
1. What’s Navy boot camp like? (aka recruit training)
Just like with the other branches, you’ll want to know what boot camp will be like. Generally speaking, the Navy is a bit easier than the Army and Marines, but it will still be challenging.
Related Article: How Hard Is Navy Basic Training?
2. Will I be based on a ship or shore?
This will be contingent upon which job you ultimately end up with. IF you don’t mind being out to sea for months on end, you might want to be on a ship. If you can’t stand the thought of not seeing dry land for long periods of time, you’ll want to know your options.
3. How much liberty time will I get?
One thing most sailors look forward to is time off, otherwise known as liberty. When your ship pulls in to some foreign port, you’ll want to know how much time you’ll have to unwind.
4. What benefits are accessible to me after my time is up?
The Navy offers a wealth of benefits after service, including the GI Bill, retirement packages, and more. These benefits will depend on how long you serve, which ultimately will give you a better understanding of how long you wan to enlist for.
5. Can I reenlist as an officer?
In some cases, you might want to reenlist as an officer. Whether it be so that you can get a specific job, are looking for a pay bump, or are having a hard time finding civilian employment.
FAQ About Visiting A Military Recruiter
What should I wear?
It really doesn’t matter, but use your best judgement. Obviously you don’t want to walk in the recruiters office looking like a slob, but you don’t need to dress like you’re doing an interview at a Fortune 500 company either.
Things to avoid:
- Don’t wear anything offensive. If your t-shirt has a picture of Satan on it, it might be a better idea to just leave it at home. 🙂
- Don’t wear a Navy T-shirt into a Marine recruiters office. That is, of course, unless you want to get chewed out.
- Don’t wear torn, ripped, or stained clothing. You have at least one T-shirt that is presentable, right?
- Wearing a hat? Take it off before you head into the military recruiters office.
Keep in mind that different military branches have different chances of you getting in.
For example, the Army and Navy is almost always looking for new recruits, even during peacetime.
However, the Coast Guard can be very selective about new recruits.
It would be in your best interest to “dress for success” as they say.
I’m not talking a suit and tie here, but a polo or long sleeve shirt with khaki pants and dress shoes would be a nice touch.
The only time a suit and tie would be a great idea is if you were trying to become an officer, Pilot, Nuclear Sub Technician, or even a Navy SEAL.
The military recruiter has the power to either put you in the job you want, or put you in the job he or she wants.
Make the recruiter like you, wear a suit. 🙂
What should I bring with me?
If you’re just going to the recruiters office to ask him or her questions, then you really don’t need to bring too much.
One thing I would recommend is bringing a notepad and a couple of pens so you can take some notes.
You could also possibly bring your phone so you can record the conversation, but make sure you 100% clear it with the recruiter first,.
If they catch you trying to clandestinely tape record your conversation, they may simply show you the door.
How should I act?
Just like in most situations in life, it’s best to just “be yourself”.
Go in with a confident (but not cocky) attitude, and don’t worry about anything.
Remember, you’re just there to ask questions, not necessarily to sign the dotted line just yet.
How to tell when they’re lying or stretching the truth?
The simple truth is this…military recruiters are trained to get you to want to sign up.
They will show you the recruitment videos of soldiers jumping out of airplanes, fighter pilots ripping through the sky at Mach 1, and Navy SEALs creeping out of the water with an M4 rifle.
This is all designed to get you excited, and ready to sign on the dotted line.
However, a good chunk of those entering the military will not end up doing one of these jobs.
Here’s a few military recruiter lies you should watch out for:
1. Once you enlist, you’ll have the job of your choice.
This is simply not true. The job you are assigned in the military is almost strictly determined by how well you score on the ASVAB or related tests.
If your ASVAB scores don’t match up, you will end up in a job that you most likely don’t want to do.
And the worst part about it is, you won’t have a choice.
2. Yeah, you’ll get a job in the civilian world as soon as you get out.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Unless you’re guaranteed with a very specific job in the military, there’s a good chance you’ll be scrubbing toilets for the next 2 – 4 years.
Sure, this does translate to job skills for a civilian career; if you don’t mind being a janitor, that is.
If you’re looking to do a specific job after your service is up, mention that to the recruiter up front.
Then, when you get home from your recruiter visit, do some research to be sure he’s not lying to you.
There are a ton of jobs in the military that have some great civilian opportunities once your service is up.
3. If you go open contract, you’ll ultimately get whatever job you want.
In most of the military branches, once you’re assigned a job (MOS, rate, etc.), you’ll likely be stuck with that job for the foreseeable future.
If a military recruiter tries to tell you that you’ll be able to change your job after 1 or 2 years, he or she is likely lying to you.
Your best bet is to get the job you want in writing, so there’s no confusion or finger pointing when you end up swapping decks for 10 hours a day.
4. There’s a bonus for this job, you’ll love it!
Usually when a military recruiter is pushing you to take a certain job, there’s a reason behind this.
Most military branches will offer bonuses for positions that are severely undermanned.
This could be a cool job like a helicopter pilot, or it could be a not-so cool job like a refrigerator repair tech,
Don’t let the dollar signs fool you. Just because there’s a bonus for a specific job, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll like it.
In fact, in reality you’ll probably hate it…do your research on the job first!
5. You can join up, it’s just going to take a few months to get you in.
It’s a simple truth that military recruiters have quotas. They have a certain amount of positions that need to be filled, and they receive all sorts of bonuses when they hit certain quotas.
As a result, they may try and “push” you to join at a later date.
In fact, they may even lie to you and straight up tell you that you won’t be able to join up for several months.
This is simply not true. Unless you’re in the Delayed Entry Program, there’s almost no reason you have to wait to ship out to boot camp.
If the military recruiter tries to push the issue, tell him that you’re thinking about joining up with a different branch instead and that you’ll get back to him.
You’ll be amazed at how fast he or she can “pull some strings to get you in sooner”.
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