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Military Services:  Navy Enlisted
Photo: collage of two saluting sailors, a female yeoman, airplanes in formation, ship, and the Navy logo.


The Navy plays an important role in helping to maintain the freedom of the seas. It defends the right of our country and its allies to travel and trade freely on the world’s oceans and helps protect our country and national interests overseas during times of international conflict through power projection ashore. Navy sea and air power make it possible for our country to use the oceans when and where our national interests require it.

The Navy is a large and diverse organization. It is made up of over 360,000 officers and enlisted sailors. Navy people operate and repair nearly 300 ships and over 4,000 aircraft; they serve in such diverse fields as radio operators, network systems administrators, dental specialists, seamen, computer programmers, photographers, ship electricians, and gas turbine systems technicians and work in many other exciting careers. Navy people serve on ships at sea, on submarines under the sea, in aviation positions on land and sea, and at shore bases around the world.

The Navy recruits over 40,000 people each year to fill openings in Navy career fields.

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To qualify for enlistment in Navy programs, men and women must be between the ages of 17 and 34. Parental consent is required for all 17-year-olds. In the nuclear field, the maximum enlistment age is 23, due to extensive training requirements. Since most Navy programs require enlistees to be high school graduates, the Navy prefers young people to graduate first before entering the Navy.

Enlistees must be citizens of the United States or immigrant aliens with immigration and naturalization papers. A physical examination and the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test must be completed.

Initial enlistment in the Navy usually is for four years. However, two-, three-, or six-year enlistments are also available for men and women, depending on the programs they select.

After going through the enlistment process at a Military Entrance Processing Station, Navy people usually are placed in the Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP). Recruits in the DEP are guaranteed training assignments. The DEP allows enlistees to finish high school, take care of personal business, or just relax before reporting for duty. There is even an opportunity to earn advancement in the DEP which translates into a higher paygrade when entering basic training.

There is extra pay in the Navy for sea duty, submarine duty, demolition duty, diving duty, work as a crew member of an aviation team, or jobs that require special training. Signing bonuses are available for those who enter the nuclear field or other highly technical fields in the Navy. Because the nuclear field is such a critical and unique area of the Navy, quicker promotions are earned and bonuses are available when the training in this field is completed and also when sailors with nuclear training reenlist.

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The Navy is known for the excellent training it provides. The Navy provides both recruit training and job training.

Recruit Training

The first assignment for every Navy enlistee is recruit training. It is a challenging nine-week period of transition from civilian to Navy life. It provides the discipline, knowledge, and physical conditioning necessary to continue serving in the Navy.

The Navy's recruit training command is located in Great Lakes, Illinois. After reporting, recruits are placed into training divisions, issued uniforms and equipment, and assigned living quarters.

The recruit's day starts at 0530 (5:30 a.m.). Taps (lights out) is at 2200 (10:00 p.m.). During weekdays, the daily schedule varies and includes periods of physical fitness, classroom training, and hands-on instruction.

Physical fitness training includes push-ups, sit-ups, sit-reach, distance running, water survival, and swimming instruction. Recruits are tested for physical fitness at the beginning and end of recruit training. The test requirements differ slightly for men and women.

Recruits are given classroom and hands-on training covering more than 30 subjects, including aircraft and ship familiarization, basic deck seamanship, firefighting, career incentives, decision-making, time management, military drill, Navy mission and organization, military customs and courtesies, and the chain of command.

Job Training

After recruit training, most Navy people go directly to the technical school (called class A school) they signed up for at the Military Entrance Processing Station.

The Navy has more than 60 job fields from which enlistees may choose. They are grouped in occupational categories similar to the occupations described in Military Careers.

Navy class A schools are located on military bases throughout the United States, including Great Lakes, Illinois; San Diego, California; Newport, Rhode Island; and Pensacola, Florida. They range in length from a few weeks to many months, depending on the complexity of the subject.

Those who complete recruit training and are still undecided about what career path they want to take in the Navy can begin an on-the-job apprenticeship training program. One such program for men is the Subfarer Program, which trains men to serve aboard submarines. The Divefarer Program trains personnel in diving specialties, and the Aircrew Program trains enlistees in inflight maintenance and tactical crew duties in naval aircraft.

When apprentices finish on-the-job training, they should have an idea of what type of job (rating) they want to pursue during the rest of their Navy service. They may then apply to class A school for training in that rating. Advanced training in most job fields is available later in a Navy person's career.

The Office of Education Credit of the American Council on Education regularly reviews and evaluates Navy training and experience. It has recommended that colleges and universities award credits for nearly all Navy courses.

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Like other branches of the service, the Navy has nine enlisted pay grades, from E-1 to E-9. A new enlistee entering the Navy is an E-1 (Seaman Recruit). After about six months in the Navy, the E-1 normally is eligible for advancement to E-2 (Seaman Apprentice).

Navy promotions are based on: 1) job performance, 2) competitive examination grades, 3) recommendations of supervisors, 4) length of service, and 5) time in present level of work. It is impossible to predict exactly when promotions will occur; however, every job in the Navy has a defined career path leading to supervisory positions.

People with highly developed skills in certain critical occupations may enter the Navy at advanced pay grades. Some people qualify for one of the specialized technical training programs in the electronics or nuclear fields, where advancement is often rapid.

Enlisted petty officer ratings (E-4 through E-9) are not to be confused with Navy commissioned officer rankings. Most Navy enlisted personnel are not college graduates, while most Navy commissioned officers have college degrees. However, the Navy does offer several programs that allow enlisted personnel to advance to officer status.

Two Navy programs, Limited Duty Officer (LDO) and Warrant Officer (WO), permit career enlisted Navy people to advance to commissioned officer status without a college education. Enlisted Navy people interested in officer commissions through these two programs should start planning for them early in their careers. These commissions are limited to successful career petty officers. The competition is keen and the standards are high.

The Enlisted Commissioning Program enables an eligible enlisted man or woman with previous college credits and between 4 and 11 years of active service to earn a bachelor's degree in 30-36 months while assigned to a Naval Reserve Officers' Training Corps (NROTC) college. The summer prior to beginning their academic program, ECP Selectees attend the Naval Science Institute in Newport Rhode Island. This is a six week and a half week course which provides the first two years of NROTC Naval Science Courses. Once the ECP Selectee reports to an NROTC Unit, he/she becomes an officer candidate and completes the last two years of their Naval Science Courses. Upon graduation the ECP Officer Candidate is commissioned at the NROTC Unit.

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The Navy believes that the more education people receive, the better equipped they are to perform their jobs and fulfill personal goals. A program called Navy Campus provides opportunities for enlisted members to take continuing education classes throughout their Navy careers. Through Navy Campus, enlisted members can pursue all levels of education and training, from high school equivalency to vocational certificate to college degree, wherever they are stationed. Navy Campus offers on-duty and off-duty study to provide a complete package of educational benefits to Navy people. They can enroll in any combination of Navy Campus programs and keep adding credits toward a civilian college degree or vocational certificate of their choice.

The Navy offers enlisted members two officer preparatory programs to improve their academic status so they may compete for a commissioning program such as the NROTC or the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. These preparatory programs are the Broadened Opportunity for Officer Selection and Training (BOOST) and the Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS).

The United States Naval Academy offers a fully subsidized 4-year college education-plus a monthly salary. About 1,300 people are selected for the Naval Academy each year from nominations by Senators, Representatives, the President and Vice President of the United States, and the Secretary of the Navy.

Candidates must be U.S. citizens, aged 17 to 22, and single with no children. Enlisted Navy men and women applying to the academy must have served at least one year of active duty by the date of entrance. Graduates receive a bachelor of science degree and a commission.

The NROTC program offers a fully subsidized tuition scholarship plus a monthly stipend. Approximately 1,100 people are selected for the NROTC Program each year.

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