If you are thinking about serving in the military as an American citizen, then the Navy is a branch of service that will allow you to see the world in a unique way. When you join the Navy, then you are becoming part of the fighting forces which protect the waterways of the U.S. and the rest of the world. You will serve on land or at sea in one of more than 80 enlisted jobs (ratings) that are divided into further sub-specialties that will allow you to focus on your strengths.
Serving in the Navy is not guaranteed, even if you express volunteer interest in this branch of service. You must have a minimum ASVAB score of 35 to enlist. You will also want to get into shape before you finalize this process by being able to run a minimum of 1.5 miles without stopping. You’ll need to do numerous sets of crunches and push-ups as well.
Serving in this branch of the military also requires you to have the ability to tread water and swim. About 54,000 new recruits go through the Navy’s boot camp every year. If you would like to be one of those people this year, then here are the pros and cons of that decision.
List of the Pros of Joining the Navy
1. The Navy gives you an opportunity to go see the world.
There are currently more than 50 significant naval bases across the continental United States. You can also be called to serve in Italy, Guam, Japan, South Korea, or Europe. Hawaii is a possibility as well. Most naval assignments are to vessels instead of bases, so you would have a home port to call home. Almost every base is located in a beach community with access to a large body of water, which is why people who love that environment often thrive in the Navy.
2. You will gain access to the G.I. Bill in the Navy.
If you maintain a good standing while serving in the Navy, then you will qualify for the benefits of the G.I. Bill because of your service. The Navy also offers a college fund for anyone who enlists in a job that the branch of service considers to be understaffed, which means you receive more cash to the monthly entitlements you receive. There are also tuition assistance opportunities for recruits when they take college courses during their off-duty hours.
3. Colleges often provide course credit for Naval training.
When you join the Navy, then you will be expected to attend specific training courses at your post based on the assigned rating you have. These classes are usually provided by local educational institutions, which means you can earn credit toward a degree by attending mandated training opportunities. Most offer flexible credit transfer policies too. If you have a job which requires specialized training, then you may qualify for additional credits toward your eventual degree as well.
4. There are multiple insurance benefits that become available.
One of the unique advantages which sailors can access wants to join the Navy is an affordable life insurance policy. Depending on your situation, you may be eligible to receive up to $500,000 of coverage that protects the financial well-being of your family. There are also health and wellness benefits which apply automatically because of your service status. These benefits also apply to your direct family members, including medical and dental care.
5. It provides you with a sense of duty.
There is arguably no more significant calling as an American citizen then to serve your fellow man and women by joining the Navy. Your contributions help to safeguard the way of life that everyone enjoys. When you know that you have done well, then there is a satisfaction in life that you experience which other forms of employment do not provide. By defending your country, it is more than an act of patriotism. It is a way to discover what it means to have a sense of duty.
6. You will find employment opportunities because of your service.
If you are struggling to find a job for any reason, then military service becomes a viable option if you are able to meet the minimum scores. Not only does this mean that you will receive a paycheck when you need it, but there are also different entitlements that can help you to become financially stable even during uncertain economic times. If you decide that a career in the Navy is not right for you, then the skills that this branch teaches you during your service can help you to find more opportunities for employment in the civilian world as well.
7. There are significant enlistment bonuses that you can earn by joining the Navy.
The enlistment (and re-enlistment) bonuses which are available when you join the Navy can be over $20,000. Depending on the job that you train for in this branch of the military, you can earn significantly more than that if you decide to re-enlist. After just 36 months of service, enlisted sailors who are trained in nuclear technologies can receive a bonus of $90,000 to re-enlist for another term.
8. You can receive student loan forgiveness by joining the Navy.
If you decide to join the Navy, then you can experience student loan forgiveness if you have already earned a degree in college or in rolled in classes and earned credits. The current amount that is eligible for this advantage is up to $65,000 over the course of 36 months. The Navy pays 33.3% of your loan balance for each 12 months of active duty. You will also have the benefit of a capped interest rate of 6% if you take out a student loan before enlisting if you are on active duty. The loans had to have been disbursed before 8/14/08 to qualify for this advantage.
Members stations on hostile duty can request 0% interest on their student loans for up to 60 months. You can qualify with a statement from your CO or military orders.
9. The Navy provides you with a full pension after serving 20 years.
One of the benefits in past generations of holding a public service job was that you could retire after 20 years with a full pension. Many governing agencies have switched to 401(k) plans and similar retirement options instead of offering a guaranteed salary, but that doesn’t apply to the Navy. Your military retirement pay can reach out to 75% of the average of your final three years in base salary. In some specific instances, it could even be more than that.
10. There are lifetime benefits offered to your family in case tragedy strikes.
If you are killed while in the line of duty after joining the Navy, the military or the VA will provide your family with a lifetime of benefits because of your service and sacrifice. Although this advantage is never an easy one to consider, your surviving family receives a $100,000 death gratuity immediately. If you opted into the life insurance, then they receive a $400,000 lump sum payment as well. There are also indemnity and Social Security payments to consider.
11. You can purchase a home with no money down thanks to a VA loan.
Whether you are currently serving in the Navy or you have left the service, qualifying for a VA loan means that you can purchase a home without putting any money down. This option allows you to receive a home loan of up to $453,100 through an approved lender. It is one of the few 100% financing options that are available in the United States. You also have the option to do a refinance for up to 100% of the appraised value of your home too.
12. You can earn a living stipend with just 36 months of service.
The new G.I. Bill in the United States offers veterans who have served a minimum of 3 years access to full tuition to pay for college after they leave the military. There is also a monthly living stipend provided that can help to cover some of your expenses. Depending on the amount of service you give to the Navy, it is possible to transfer the G.I. Bill benefits to a spouse or your children as well.
13. There are multiple travel opportunities available in the Navy.
You are given 30 days of paid leave per year, not including Federal holidays and weekends, if you decide to join the Navy. Although the working schedule can be challenging for some people depending on their rating and classification, you can sometimes travel at a discount. You can jump onto a military hop and fly without charge (or a minimal fee) if there is space available. The military also offers access to several resorts around the world to help you relax during your leave. Most installations have base lodging where you can stay for less than the cost of a civilian hotel.
List of the Cons of Joining the Navy
1. There are strict requirements in place if you wish to join the Navy.
If you are unable to achieve the minimum ASVAB score of 35, then you cannot enlist. If your score is above 30, there is still the option to join the Naval Reserve – not quite the same thing, but close. If you only have a GED instead of a high school diploma, then you will need to have a score of at least 50 if you wish to pursue this dream. That is why it is an excellent idea to meet the academic, height, weight, and fitness standards to the best of your ability before speaking with a recruiter.
2. Serving in the military always provides a risk of sacrifice.
When you join the Navy, then you are joining a family of brothers and sisters who have all agreed to the same principle. You are making a decision to put your life on the line as a way to preserve the freedoms that are available in the United States. There are numerous Gold Star families who have already made the ultimate sacrifice. Being a sailor means that you are willing to do what is necessary to protect others, even if it costs you everything.
3. The actual salary is not necessarily competitive with the private sector.
When you receive a promotion to second lieutenant in the Navy, then your salary will be $36,000 per year plus full benefits. Although you can receive added monthly allowance is about to $3,000 depending on where you are stationed, the compensation package that you receive from the military is not always competitive with what you could earn in the private sector with your skill set.
The amount that you earn when you first enlist in the Navy is much less than that. You’ll receive a salary of roughly $20,000 per year plus benefits, along with added monthly allowances totaling a maximum of $1,500 per month.
4. New enlistees get the blended retirement system instead of a pension.
Starting in 2018, the retirement plan for all members of the Navy change to what is called the Blended Retirement System. It offers a different multiplier with matching Thrift Savings Plan contributions that can be up to 5% of whatever your base salary happens to be. It then builds value in a manner that is similar to a 401(k) plan. If you are earning the initial salary after joining, then you can only match a maximum of $1,000 for your eventual retirement. Even at the second lieutenant’s salary, a full match is just $1,800.
5. Not everyone will qualify for a VA loan or other military benefits.
You must typically receive an honorable discharge from the Navy to take advantage of the benefits which are available after you service. There may be other criteria that you must meet as well to take advantage of specific items, such as a VA loan. You must either serve 90 consecutive days of active service during wartime, 181 days during peace time, or have six years of service in the National Guard or the Reserves. A spouse who is a widow/widower because of a death in the line of duty also qualifies.
The pros and cons of joining the Navy often depend on what an individual hopes to get out of the experience. There are certain risks involved with military service, just as there are with another career options. Most military specialties are not any more dangerous than their counterparts in the civilian world. It is an opportunity to have a long career, earn an income, and prepare for your retirement while getting to travel as you serve. It can be an incredible experience!
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.