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Branches of The U.S. Military

Last updated May 16, 2024

There are six branches of the United States Military: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Space Force. Learning which branch may be right for you is a personal journey, but we’re here to help! In this article, we'll guide you through researching military branches, understanding the differences between full-time and part-time commitments, and exploring the opportunities provided by the National Guard and Reserve. Here's what to know about branches of the U.S. Military. 

Do your research

Read as much as you can, keep track of what interests you or what you are interested in experiencing, and make a list of questions you have to ask a recruiter if you decide to meet with one. 

Graphic comparing U.S. military branches - Branches of The U.S. Military

Full-time vs. part-time commitment

Active duty is a full-time commitment equivalent to a full-time civilian job. You will live on base or in military housing. After boot camp, as a full-time member, you will be stationed at a base within the U.S. or abroad. Service commitments last two to six years and depend on the unit’s mission.

Reserve is a part-time commitment where service members can become active duty in times of war or national emergency. Since you are part-time, you can work a civilian job or take college classes simultaneously. After boot camp, you will participate in training drills one weekend a month. There is the option to switch to active duty to finish your service commitment.

National Guard is also a part-time commitment where the branches are controlled at the state level. As a service member, you can work in a civilian job or take college classes simultaneously. The National Guard can be deployed overseas in times of conflict for combat or humanitarian aid.

Want to learn more? Check out our article on the GI Bill to learn how military service can help you pay for college and educational expenses.

Have any questions about branches of the U.S. Military? Text #Hello to 33-55-77 to chat with one of our advisors. If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!

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