How to Receive the Highest Pay Bonus in the Navy Reserve

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Branches of the United States military are using a commonly known private-sector recruitment and selection strategy to increase military strength and resources. For years, the private sector has enticed qualified applicants with sign-on bonuses and other monetary incentives. The military embraced the same concept and discovered it works. Consequently, the United States Navy Reserve structured a unique way to offer lucrative bonuses to enlistees. The bonuses range from $5,000 to $20,000, based on enlistees' criteria, qualifications and prior service.


Step 1

Obtain your prior military records, if applicable. Navy Reserve enlistment is open to anyone without prior military service. However, if you have previous military service, you must gather your service and discharge records before you can start the Navy Reserve enlistment process. Contact the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, for a copy of your records and discharge form, the DD-214. The NPRC accepts mailed or faxed requests for records; you can start the request process online via and follow the links to download SF-180. An SF-180 is the request form for military records for prior service.


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Step 2

Ensure you meet the enlistment criteria. This includes citizenship status, age and physical suitability. Enlistees with a four-year college degree from an accredited college or university who want to become Navy Reserve officers must be native or naturalized United States citizens. Permanent legal residents can become enlisted sailors but not Navy Reserve officers. Sailors and officers who want to enlist must be between the ages of 18 and 39 and able to successfully complete a thorough physical examination.


Step 3

Visit with a Navy Reserve recruiter to discuss your options about enlistment and sign-on bonuses. Navy Reserve pay bonuses range from $5,000 to $20,000, depending on factors such as the length of time you commit to serving in the Navy Reserve, whether or not you have previously served in the military and whether you qualify for sailor or officer. The highest pay bonus is for enlistees who commit to six years with the Navy Reserve.


Step 4

Review the criteria for a $20,000 pay bonus. Ensure you are capable of serving in the Navy Reserve for the six-year commitment that's required for the highest pay bonus. Consider also the disbursement schedule for the highest Navy Reserve pay bonus. There exists a strong possibility the disbursement for the Navy Reserve's highest pay bonus of $20,000 will be in incremental payments; however, there is a slim chance you might receive the pay bonus in a lump sum.


Step 5

Finalize your enlistment plans during a conversation with a Navy Reserve recruitment official. The official will make a preliminary determination if you qualify and also provide guidance on the steps necessary to proceed with the physical exam, verification of education for sailor or officer qualifications, commitment to Navy Reservist training and acceptance of the terms and conditions for the pay bonus.


In addition to a pay bonus, additional incentives exist which could significantly add to your total benefit package for student loan repayment and the amount of time you want to spend serving throughout each month's commitment of time or special assignments.


If your reason to seek a pay bonus is solely to cash in, give your decision to enlist a second thought. Qualifying for this bonus comes with certain terms and conditions you might not be able to rescind after your final decision to enlist.



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