Joining the Army With a Bachelor's Degree: Benefits and How To
Updated June 24, 2022
There are many reasons people join the military, and some may find it appealing after they complete their bachelor's degree and consider how they want to use that degree. The army offers a variety of benefits to those who join with a bachelor's degree already completed, which include ranking as an officer and financial benefits. For those considering joining the army after graduation from college, it can be helpful to consider why you want to join, what you gain by joining and how exactly joining the army works.
In this article, we explain the benefits of joining the army after earning your bachelor's degree and how to join the military once you've graduated.
Benefits of joining the army after earning a bachelor's degree
If you are considering joining the army after earning a bachelor's degree, you may find that you earn special benefits and advancement opportunities because of your education. This is especially true if you have a degree in a field the army needs, such as medical personnel, lawyers, technology experts and chaplains. Even if your degree is not in one of these areas, however, there are advantages to joining the army after you complete a bachelor's degree. Here are some of those advantages:
In all military branches, including the army, officers are required to have a bachelor's degree. For some, that means earning a bachelor's degree while enlisted, and for others that means joining the military after earning your degree. Members of the military who don't have a degree can't receive the training to become commissioned officers, so there is a limit to how far their career can go. However, as long as you have a bachelor's degree by the time you are being commissioned as an officer, you are eligible, whether that's the start of your military career or the middle.
Law degree funding
If you are interested in earning a post-graduate law degree, joining the army can provide funding for continuing your education. Other branches of the military offer funding for other types of graduate degrees that are in demand, but in the army, the only type of advanced degree you can get funded is a law degree. The program that provides this funding is elite, but law school can be expensive, so it can be a worthwhile program for those interested in becoming a lawyer.
One of the benefits that can be most appealing to recent college graduates is that the army offers a college loan repayment program. The College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP) offers repayment for up to $65,000 of loans for those who are signing up for the army and have loans already. Because of other college funding programs for military members, this is not a program that is offered to those who are already enlisted. The amount of repayment offered varies by branch, with the army offering the maximum repayment amount approved by Congress.
Related: Top 7 Benefits of Joining the Army
Because those with bachelor's degrees are the only ones eligible to become officers and officers being the highest ranking and highest paid people in the army, those with a bachelor's degree earn more than those without who are in the military. Entering the military with a bachelor's degree already completed allows you to start with a higher salary than those without a degree. From there, your salary grows based on your rank and years of experience, so joining the military with a bachelor's degree can help you maximize your earning potential.
Related: 15 Highest Paid Military Jobs
When you sign up for the military, you may be offered a bonus depending on a variety of factors, including how in-demand your skill set is with the army. These bonuses are often higher than what civilian companies offer to new hires and can increase your compensation package significantly. These bonuses can range from a few thousand dollars into the tens of thousands of dollars, depending on your experience, education and the role you'll be filling in the army.
The military offers extensive benefits to its soldiers, which includes various types of insurance, a pension and other retirement plans and housing assistance. The housing assistance can be used to live rent-free on a military base or to pay for your rent or mortgage off-base. Additionally, military spouses who need help with finding work are eligible for training and other specialty programs.
How to join the military after graduation
Here are the steps you can take to join the military after you've completed your bachelor's degree:
1. Meet the requirements
Each military branch has their own requirements that those joining need to meet. For the army, that means you must be between 19 and 32 years old, be a United States citizen and pass a qualification check. The qualification check evaluates your readiness to be a soldier, which sometimes requires an exam. Additionally, if you are joining to become an officer, you need a bachelor's degree.
Related: Military Careers: A Definitive Guide
2. Sign up
Once you have determined you are ready to join and that you meet the requirements, you should go to a recruiting office to sign up. This is where you'll discuss the type of work you might do, any relevant bonuses and a timeline for your training. It may be helpful to bring along a loved one to help you review the paperwork and planning to be sure you don't miss anything important.
3. Complete basic training
Army basic training is a 10-week program that teaches you all the basics of being a soldier. This includes how to work within your team, physical preparedness, weapons training and more. Once you have signed up for the army, you will have a start date for your basic training assigned. Once you've completed your basic training, then you proceed to your more specialized training for officers.
4. Attend officer training
Once you've completed basic training, because you have a bachelor's degree, you'll attend officer training. This is a 12-week program where you learn leadership skills and expand your soldiering skills physically and mentally. Those who attend officer training are usually a mix between new recruits with bachelor's degrees and previously enlisted soldiers who have earned their degrees while in the army.
5. Complete exams for specialized positions
If you are working towards taking a specialized role in the army, once you complete your training you may need to complete exams. This isn't necessary for all positions, so it can be helpful to find out if this will be required for your role.
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