Joining the Army is a very serious decision that should not be taken lightly. It is an honorable choice but it is extremely important to understand exactly what joining the service entails. A recruiter is always available for information regarding the Army, but they might knowingly or unknowingly leave out facts that could sway your decision in the opposite direction. Take extreme pride in yourself for wanting to serve our country, but understand what you are getting yourself into before making that commitment.
The first step to joining the Army is taking the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery). This test has everything from math to automotive questions. It helps determine what Army job would be best fitted to your abilities.
After taking the aptitude test a counselor or a recruiter will discuss the results with you and provide a list of jobs, although in the army it is not called a job it is referred to as an MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). This is where many people get stuck doing something they regret later down the road. The recruiter will discourage you from choosing an MOS that does not reflect your ASVAB score, and this is fine and quite rational, but they might also strongly encourage you to take an MOS that desperately needs to be filled. Take the time to discuss with them all of the options available, and if you feel they are holding back information so you do not choose a certain MOS do not be afraid to speak with a different recruiter or counselor. It comes in very handy to do research on different MOS options before you get to this stage.
Once the MOS is chosen and the contract is signed you are then given a date and a location for boot camp, or Basic Combat Training (BCT). This training will be 9 weeks long with each week covering a different topic. BCT will vary in location, usually dependent on what MOS was chosen. BCT is not only physical training but also consists of realizing what it means to be a part of the Army. All the Army basics and rules will be taught during this training session.
After BCT comes AIT (Advanced Individual Training). AIT consists of learning the skills needed for the specific MOS that you decided to follow. During this time you will be placed with other soldiers in the same job field as you. AIT does not have a set time as does BCT; it can vary from four weeks to a year depending on the MOS.
When all the training is done, no one can tell you what will happen next. It will be necessary to take part in training at least one weekend a month, but no one can foresee the next main step until it happens. You may start college or even find a job, in these cases you continue normal life until the news is given to you that you must deploy somewhere whether it is battle or not. You may find out right after training. It all depends on the MOS picked, where soldiers are needed, and what conflicts or disasters are occurring in the United States and around the world.
Joining the Army is not a set career; it is an adventure in which anything can happen. Although no one can tell you what exactly your adventure will entail, understanding the process of joining the Army can make it just a little more predictable.