how to join the national guard

How to Join the National Guard?

When you join the National Guard, you're joining a team with purpose and setting yourself up for a successful future. Let's see how to join it!

January 1, 2022

When you join the National Guard, you’re joining a team with a purpose, and you’re putting yourself in a position to succeed. During your civilian career, you’ll gain job skills and leadership experience, and you’ll move ahead of the competition.

The most fundamental requirements are physical and mental toughness. It’s all about commitment. A commitment to yourself.  A commitment to people who are around you. A commitment to make a difference, to assist those in need, and to uphold the American ideal.

It takes drive—the kind that doesn’t fade when impossible obstacles stare you in the face. It takes mitigation, teamwork, and the will to achieve something bigger. If you’re looking for something more, the Guard is looking for you.

What is the National Guard?

The National Guard is a unique element of the U.S. military that serves both community and country. The Guard responds to domestic emergencies, overseas combat missions, counterdrug efforts, reconstruction missions, and more. Any state governor or the President of the United States can call on the Guard at a moment’s notice. Guard Soldiers hold civilian jobs or attend college while maintaining their military training part-time. Guard Soldiers’ primary area of operation is their home state.

How to Join the National Guard?

how to join the national guard
How to join the National Guard


For joining the National Guard without prior service, you must meet these mandatory requirements:

  • Be between the ages of 17 and 35
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Be at least a junior in high school, or have a high school diploma or a GED certificate
  • Achieve a minimum score on the ASVAB Test (The ASVAB, or Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, is a series of tests used to determine an applicant’s qualification for military service and help determine their intellectual and occupational strengths.)
  • Meet medical, physical, and moral requirements


Fill out the form and a Guard recruiter will contact you to answer all of your questions. Get the conversation started, with no obligations on your part.


Once you and your Guard Recruiter agree that you’re a good fit for the Guard, your next step is to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test, which determines which jobs you qualify for. If you haven’t already taken the ASVAB, take your time to study and train yourself with our free ASVAB practice test 2022. Thousands of ASVAB practice questions and our unique gamified learning technique will boost 100% of your confidence. Take it now!

asvab practice test by abc elearning
ASVAB Practice Test – How to Join the National Guard



At this point, you will lock in your Basic Combat Training ship date,  and take your Oath of Enlistment.


You enlist while you’re still a junior (you must be 17 years old to enlist and have permission from a parent or guardian), finish that year, and attend Basic Combat Training during the summer between your junior and senior years.


Until you ship, it’s one weekend a month. RSP is all about getting you ready to excel at Basic Training, so you’ll learn Guard rules and structure, and start fitness and classroom training.

It’s hard. Intense. Demanding. You’ll love it. Basic Combat Training (BCT) is a 10-week intensive course of exercises and drills designed to toughen you up inside and out. The time is broken down into three phases of roughly three weeks each, designed to take you from an ordinary civilian to Citizen-Soldier®.


It’s time for practice. In 10 weeks, you’ll be stronger than you’ve ever been, and ready to be part of the team that protects America.


The length of time for deployments will vary, depending on the situation. State active duty missions usually run from 15-60 days, while federal deployments are usually a minimum of 12 months. Guard Soldiers may also choose to volunteer for active duty assignments (for example, Border Patrol), and again, the length of deployment will vary.

Read more >> How much does National Guard Pay?

FAQs about Joining the National Guard

What does the National Guard do?

As mentioned above, this is a unique branch of the U.S. military that takes both state and federal responsibilities. The National Guard regularly responds to domestic emergencies such as natural disasters and also supports military operations overseas.

How is the Army National Guard different from other military branches?

Our mission makes us different. Unlike the other branches, Guard Soldiers can be deployed by the governors of their resident states to support communities stricken by natural disasters like floods and hurricanes. Guard Soldiers can also be deployed by the president of the United States to defend our country or support our allies overseas. This dual role for the Guard is what makes us unique.

What is the difference between the National Guard and the Army Reserve?

Both Guard Soldiers and Army Reserve Soldiers train one weekend per month and two weeks every summer. Both Guard Soldiers and Army Reserve Soldiers can be called into full-time service to support Army combat missions. The main difference is that Guard Soldiers serve a dual mission. They can be called on by their state governor or the federal government. Reserve Soldiers do not have a state mission and cannot be called to respond to floods and hurricanes, for example. 

How is the National Guard different from Active Duty Army?

When you join the National Guard, your military service becomes your full-time job, and you will most likely be relocated to live on a military base. It’s a 24/7 commitment for the length of your enlistment. When you join the Guard, you will be required to attend a paid drill one weekend a month and attend paid Annual Training for two weeks every summer. When needed, you can be called into full-time, Active-Duty service. But the rest of the time, you live in your local community and have more flexibility to pursue your career or education.

Also, Active Duty Army fulfills a federal mission, while the National Guard serves a unique dual mission. Either the president of the United States or your state’s governor can deploy the Guard as needed, which means you might get called up to help out after a disaster in your city or state.

What jobs are available in the National Guard?

In the Guard, there are over 150 different jobs to choose from. Guard career fields include Infantry, Air Defense, Medical, and Military Police, for example. Opportunities are also available in intelligence, technology, engineering, aviation, and many other fields.

You may want to consult our study guides in addition to completing our sample tests for extra study tips and information helping you improve your score even more.

Remember to take our free National Guard ASVAB practice test as many times as you like, and each time you do, the questions will be reordered to provide you with a fresh learning experience. Let’s get started practicing right away!