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Enlist or Become an Officer?

If you’ve decided you want to serve, the first decision you will need to make is whether to enlist or to enter the military as an officer. Both choices can yield great careers with numerous benefits, but which one is the right fit for you? 

If you’ve decided you want to serve, the first decision you will need to make is whether to enlist or to enter the military as an officer. Both choices can yield great careers with numerous benefits, but which one is the right fit for you? 

Think of it this way: Enlisted soldiers are workers with specific duties, and officers are managers who give orders and plan missions. Do you prefer to be the doer, or the supervisor?  

If you want to enlist, once out of high school you would complete your MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) and basic training. However, if you think you may want to enter the military as an officer, you will need to have a college degree first.  

There are a few paths you can take to accomplish this: 

  • ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps): Take military courses at a college while earning your degree, then commission as an officer.
  • Direct Commission: Enter the military after becoming a professional in your field.
  • Officer Candidate School: Enter after receiving a four-year degree.
  • West Point Military Academy: The oldest military academy in the United States. It is tuition-free, but acceptance is a competitive process.

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