A strong military is created one way. With the best training.
After a recruit decides to join the Military, they begin the training phase of service. During this time, they acquire the skills they need to be fully prepared for the beginning of their careers. In this section, discover the differences in training between enlisted and officers, learn about advanced training and more.
Our Today’s Military overview pages show the various stages of a military career, from the joining process to training, working and taking advantage of military benefits. Continue your journey below.
Enlisted service members attend Basic Training (commonly referred to as “boot camp”), which lasts between seven to 12 weeks depending on the Service branch. Basic Training includes a rigorous physical fitness program, but also builds mental strength and knowledge of military history and tactics. It is an intense, challenging experience, but rest assured that 90 percent of recruits successfully complete it.
After completing boot camp, recruits receive additional training specific to their career field. This type of training is known as Advanced Individual Training (AIT). It includes classroom instruction at skill-training school as well as field exercises.
There are multiple ways to become an officer in the Military, but all require a four-year degree in order to commission. Explore the various options below.
Service Academies & Military Colleges
Service academies Senior Military Colleges (SMCs) offer a four-year higher education experience while fully immersing students in military culture. The academies offer full scholarships (tuition, housing, textbooks) in return for a five-year service commitment after graduation. In comparison, SMCs combine higher education with military instruction through mandatory ROTC programs. However, only students that receive military scholarships are required to serve upon graduating.
Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC)
The Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is a great officer path option for those interested in experiencing military training and culture who still want to attend a civilian college. Students participate in ROTC exercises, which are a combination of field exercises, hands-on leadership workshops and classroom instruction. The program pays for a student’s education in exchange for a service commitment upon graduation.
Officer Candidate School (OCS)
Officer Candidate School (OCS) (known as Officer Training School in the Air Force) is the officer program for recruits who possess a four-year degree with no prior experience in the Military. It teaches leadership skills, military culture and physical training over a 9 to 17 week period, depending on the Service branch.
Civilians who have special skills in demand by the Military can also become officers through a process called direct commission. Direct Commission Officers (DCOs) typically possess advanced degrees in medicine, law, religious studies, engineering or intelligence.
See a sampling of the types of training available to service members with highlights from our Training Videos page.
As a Marine Corps Infantry Officer, it’s 1st Lt. Akhil Iyer’s job to train and prepare his Marines to be ready for any operation.
Alex Fan and his fellow Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) students engage in an exercise in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Brune explains the role of the Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) as Tech. Sgt. Jason Roland calls in a simulated air strike.
Cryptologic linguists in the Air Force receive special training in multilingual skills for either airborne or ground support.
National Guard members talk about what goes on during Drill Weekend.
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View answers to commonly asked questions about the Military.
The Next Step: Working
After a service member has completed his or her training, it’s time to put what they’ve learned to use.
Narrator: Training is a huge part of military life, and as a service member you’ll always be encouraged to learn and grow. Because the Military wants you to be successful. It doesn’t matter what your job is, however big or small it may seem. To take pride in what you do is important for any career, and to do it well requires the right training.
For enlisted recruits, service begins with Basic Training, often called Boot Camp. After graduating, most service members go on to Advanced Training, a preparation for a specific career path. If you wish to be an officer, there are multiple options. Some start in college, and some after. In both paths, you’ll learn what it means to be part of an organization rich with history and culture so many generations have dedicated their lives to.
Whatever kind of training you receive, you can be sure it will be thorough. It has to be, because others will depend on you and you on them. While the standards are high and the lessons are challenging, the rewards are worth the effort. Because whatever you do, you should do it well. You and those you serve with deserve nothing less.