A Staff Sergeant in combat uniform stands in front of a gold flag A Staff Sergeant in combat uniform stands in front of a gold flag

Service Commitment

Get the answers to your contract and time commitment questions, so you can determine how Army service fits into your timeline.

MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR ARMY EXPERIENCE

Army service is more than a career, gaining valuable skills and experience. It's an opportunity for every Soldier to find their way and make an impact.

A young Soldier wearing glasses laughing with an older Soldier A young Soldier wearing glasses laughing with an older Soldier

UNDERSTANDING YOUR SERVICE OBLIGATION

Serving in the Army is a voluntary but contractual obligation. This means you make the decision to enlist as a Soldier or commission as an Officer to serve for a specific period of time.

A young man in casual clothing signing a contract A young man in casual clothing signing a contract

How YOUR Contract WorkS

New enlistments sign up for a Military Service Obligation (MSO). Contracts may vary from two to six years of service in active duty, Army Reserve, or Army National Guard. Following this service, you’ll finish out your commitment in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR)—a time when you’re not required to train or fulfill any duties, but you’re on call to return in case of an extreme, but rare event.

A male Soldier in combat uniform holding a heavy weight above his head A male Soldier in combat uniform holding a heavy weight above his head

START AFTER Required Training

Your enlisted service contract won't officially start until after you complete the necessary Basic Combat Training or job training required for your role. Additionally, your Army job will determine the details of your contract.

A Sergeant First Class taking a photo with an Army Recruiter A Sergeant First Class taking a photo with an Army Recruiter

Learn About the Contract Process

Get a handle on the contract process from an Army recruiter, including knowing your options and understanding when your contract begins.

Army Sergeant presents a soldier with the Air Assault Badge during an Air Assault School graduation ceremony Army Sergeant presents a soldier with the Air Assault Badge during an Air Assault School graduation ceremony

Options FOR When Your Contract Ends

An Army career counselor will help you identify and pursue your career goals after your contract ends. These could include reenlisting, moving from active duty to the U.S. Army Reserve or Army National Guard, or starting a civilian career.

Common Questions

When does my commitment to enlist become official?

For enlisted service, your Army commitment officially begins when you take your oath at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS).

How long is the reenlistment process?

As early as a year before your contract ends, you will be assigned a career counselor who will help you navigate the next steps of your career whether you decide to reenlist in the Army or pursue the civilian workforce.

How many years do I have to serve before I qualify for retirement benefits from the Army?

The Army's Blended Retirement System offers a savings account similar to a civilian 401(k) with matching benefits. If you opt in to this plan, you will become fully vested after two years of service.

You will qualify for the Army's pension plan after 20 years of service. Learn more about retirement and pension plans.

Can I join Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) without a service commitment?

Yes. You are able to take the ROTC Basic Course in your first two years of college without any obligation to serve. However, if you accept a scholarship or enroll in the ROTC Advanced Course, you are committing to commissioning as an Army Officer after graduation.

What is the service obligation for commissioned Officers?

It varies based on when and how you join the Army as a commissioned Officer. To learn about the different ways to commission and the service commitments for each, visit the Army Officers page.

Talk to a Recruiter

Don’t worry, there’s no obligation if you reach out.

Thanks for reaching out,

Here's What Happens Next

  1. You'll receive an email confirming your request

  2. We'll provide additional information about next steps

  3. You'll work with us to decide whether the Army is right for you

Questions you may have right now

Who will reach out to me?

One of our recruiters will either call or email you to set up time to talk.

Who will reach out to me?

One of our ROTC recruiters will either call or email you to set up time to talk.

What will you ask me?

Our conversation will likely begin with some basic qualifying questions, like your age and education level. From there, the conversation will be about getting to know you and your goals for the future. Expect us to ask about your interests and skills so we can suggest Army jobs that might interest you.

How can I prepare for the conversation?

While we'll ask you questions, this is your opportunity to ask some of your own. Here are a couple to get you started:

How can the Army help me pay for college?

Do I have to go to Basic Training?

How can I prepare for the conversation?

While we'll ask you questions, this is your opportunity to ask some of your own. Here are a couple to get you started:

How can the Army help me pay for college?

What is the time commitment for part-time service?

How can I prepare for the conversation?

While we'll ask you questions, this is your opportunity to ask some of your own. Here are a couple to get you started:

Can the Army help me pay for medical school?

Do I have to go to Basic Training?

How can I prepare for the conversation?

While we'll ask you questions, this is your opportunity to ask some of your own. Here are a couple to get you started:

How do I apply for ROTC scholarships?

How do I join ROTC at the college I want to attend?

Will I be expected to join if I talk to someone?

No. Our goal is to answer your questions and help you decide if the Army is a good option for you. We understand you may not be ready to join yet, or that we may not be the right fit, and that's fine. There's no obligation for talking to us.

Thanks for reaching out,

Here's What Happens Next

  1. You'll receive an email confirming your request

  2. We'll provide additional information about next steps

  3. You'll work with us to decide whether the Army is right for you

Questions you may have right now

Who will reach out to me?

One of our recruiters will either call or email you to set up time to talk.

What will you ask me?

Our conversation will likely begin with some basic qualifying questions, like your age and education level. From there, the conversation will be about getting to know you and your goals for the future. Expect us to ask about your interests and skills so we can suggest Army jobs that might interest you.

How can I prepare for the conversation?

While we'll ask you questions, this is your opportunity to ask some of your own. Here are a couple to get you started:

Do I qualify to join the Army?

Can I join as an Officer?

How can I prepare for the conversation?

While we'll ask you questions, this is your opportunity to ask some of your own. Here are a couple to get you started:

Do I qualify to join the Army?

Can I join as an Officer?

How can I prepare for the conversation?

While we'll ask you questions, this is your opportunity to ask some of your own. Here are a couple to get you started:

What type of health care jobs are available in the Army?

Can the Army help me pay for medical school?

How can I prepare for the conversation?

While we'll ask you questions, this is your opportunity to ask some of your own. Here are a couple to get you started:

Can I join ROTC at my age

Can I join as an Officer?

Will I be expected to join if I talk to someone?

No. Our goal is to answer your questions and help you decide if the Army is a good option for you. We understand you may not be ready to join yet, or that we may not be the right fit, and that's fine. There's no obligation for talking to us.

Thanks for reaching out, .

We admire you for considering such a big career decision at your age. Unfortunately, we're unable to directly reach out to you until you are at least sixteen years old and a junior in high school. However, the following ROTC info is something that may interest you now.

Questions you may have right now

How old do I have to be to serve in the Army full-time?

To become an enlisted Soldier, you must be 17 years old. To become an Army Officer, you must be at least 18 years old and have a college degree obtained either through ROTC, U.S. Military Academy at West Point, or from another college or university program. Learn more about Army Eligibility Requirements and how to receive Officer training while in college.

How can the Army help me pay for college?

There are a variety of options available to help you pursue education with flexibility, such as ROTC programs, the GI Bill, and other programs that help pay for college tuition, trade school, technical school, or trainings. View all of the Education Benefits available to you

How do I apply for ROTC Scholarships?

Army ROTC has several scholarships available for college-bound high school students. Review your options at ROTC Scholarships, or immediately apply by creating an account at my.goarmy.com to get started.

How old do I have to be to serve in the Army part-time?

To become an enlisted Soldier, you must be 17 years old. To become an Army Officer, you must be at least 18 years old and have a college degree obtained either through ROTC, U.S. Military Academy at West Point, or from another college or university program. Learn more about Army Eligibility Requirements and how to receive Officer training while in college.

What are the ways to serve part-time?

You can serve part-time as a Soldier in the Army Reserve or the Army National Guard. By serving part-time, you are able to continue your college education or work a civilian job, while earning an extra paycheck and maintaining many of the benefits of military service.

How can the Army help me pay for college?

There are a variety of options available to help you pursue education with flexibility, such as ROTC programs, the GI Bill, and other programs that help pay for college tuition, trade school, technical school, or trainings. View all of the Education Benefits available to you.

How do I become a health care provider in the Army?

You can serve part-time or full-time as you train in our health care program. Upon graduation of the program, you will enter the Army health care team as a Commissioned Officer.

What types of medical careers are available in the Army?

There are numerous health care careers available through the Army Medical Education Deparment (AMEDD), including physicians, dentists, nurses, veterinarians, and many more. View your career options.

How can the Army help me pay for college?

There are a variety of options available to help you pursue education with flexibility, such as ROTC programs, the GI Bill, and other programs that help pay for college tuition, trade school, technical school, or trainings. View all of the Education Benefits available to you.

What are the benefits of joining ROTC?

ROTC makes it possible to achieve your ambitions. Become a leader and serve your country in one of the nation's top leadership training programs. You can do this while maintaining your college curriculum and earning up to 100% tuition coverage. Upon graduation, you're guaranteed a career as an Army Officer.

How do I prepare to join ROTC?

When you're at least 16 years old and at least a high school junior, you can reach out to us, or even talk to your high school counselor. Together, we'll talk options and decide if ROTC is the right path for you.

Will I become an Officer if I complete ROTC?

Yes. After graduation, you are commissioned as a highly respected second lieutenant in the Army, entrusted with leading other Soldiers.

Choose the Army career path you're most interested in.

Select the school you're most interested in

This helps us connect you to the right person, but if you're not sure yet, just select undecided.
    There are no results for that search term.

    Privacy Act Notice: The above disclosure is voluntary. All information will be used strictly for recruiting purposes. The authority for the collection of this information is Title 10, United States Code, Sections 503, 505, 508, and 12102, and EO 9397. For more information, please review our Privacy & Security Notice.