Can I Join the Military at 38-Years Old?

In 2006 Congress raised the maximum enlistment age to 42 for all branches of the military. Although every branch had the option to increase the enlistment age, only the Army utilized the option. Each military service sets strict enlistment standards that vary based on enlistment type, service type and prior military service.


Air Force

Active-duty applicants with no prior service must begin basic training before their 28th birthday. Prior-service applicants should contact a recruiter to verify cut-off ages. Commissioned-officer standards require applicants to be commissioned before their 35th birthday. Applicants wishing to enter the physician, nurse and Allied health field must begin officer training school before their 40th birthday. Age cut off for the Air Force Reserve is 35 years of age.

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In 2006 the Army increased the enlistment age from 40-years old to 42 years of age for men and women wishing to join active-duty Army, Army Reserve and the Army National Guard. In 2011 the age requirement of Officer Candidate School decreased from 38- to 35-years old with no exceptions.


Coast Guard

Coast Guard applicants wishing to join active service must be between the ages of 17 and 27, or 32 if attending a Coast Guard 'A' training school. The cut-off age for a Coast Guard Reservist currently sits at 39 years of age. Those with prior service should contact a recruiter to determine cut-off age and eligibility. Direct commissioned officers must be at least 21, but less than 34 years of age. Cut off for Officer Candidate School is 26, extended for a period up to five years for active-duty service in any branch of the military.



Applicants wishing to enter the Marine Corps must be no older than 35 years of age to enter active duty. There are no exceptions to this age requirement. Marine Corps applicants with prior service receive an age reduction based on the number of years served. For example, enlistment age for a 38-year old Marine with eight years of prior service is 30 years of age. Reserve applicants must be no more than 29 years of age.

Maximum age for Navy enlistment is 34 years of age for active service and no more than 35 years of age for officer applicants. Enlisted must commit to two to four years of service and officers must agree to serve three to five years of service. Navy reservist with no prior service must be no more than 39 years of age with the capacity to serve at least 20 years by the age of 60.


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