Non-Prior Service

Getting Started

The first step to joining the Army National Guard is to contact your local New Jersey Army National Guard Recruiter. The Army National Guard has physical, academic, and legal qualifications that you must meet in order to join. You must be in good health and have no major physical issues. Seventeen is the minimum age to join the Army National Guard. If you are under age 18, you must receive consent from a parent(s) or legal guardian. Your recruiter will provide you with more information and discuss your qualifications.

Basic Non-Prior Service Enlistment Criteria

  • Meet U.S. citizenship requirements or be a lawful permanent resident.
  • Be at least 17 years of age and enlist on or before 35th birthday (unless you have a specialized professional skill, such as a chaplain, lawyer or certain medical specialties).
  • Have a high school diploma or qualifying equivalency. Current high school students must be a junior or senior and be at least 17 years old.
  • Have a qualifying score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).
  • Meet physical and medical standards.
  • Meet moral qualifications. 

Your Commitment

If you have never served in any branch of the military, there are few things you need to know. All initial enlistment contracts are for eight years – that is you will have an eight year military service obligation. However, all eight years do not have to be served in an Army National Guard unit. For example, a Soldier can serve for as little as three years in a unit where there is a requirement to participate a minimum of one weekend each month and two weeks for annual training. The Soldier can then reenlist or spend the remaining five years in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). In the IRR there is no requirement to attend weekend drills or perform a two week annual training. Many benefits, however, require a six year enlistment and the remaining two years can be spent in the IRR or the Soldier can reenlist. 

Enlistment Options

There are several options for joining the Army National Guard. Your local recruiter will discuss all the options and will help you decide which option is right for you.

Delayed Training
One option is to join the Army National Guard and delay your reporting date for Basic Combat Training. As a high school junior, you can delay your reporting date until after you complete your junior year academic requirements. High school seniors and college students can receive a delay of up to 365 days from enlistment to reporting for Basic Combat Training. Those who choose this option are required to train one weekend per month with the Recruit Sustainment Program (RSP). High school juniors may combine this option with the Split Training Option discussed next.

Split Training Option
A very popular option for high school juniors is the Split Training Option. As a junior in high school, you can enlist in the Army National Guard and train one weekend per month with the Recruit Sustainment Program (RSP). This will not interrupt or affect your high school education. You start by attending Basic Combat Training the summer after your high school junior year. You will return home in time for classes to begin your senior year and train one weekend per month with the RSP. The summer following your high school graduation, you will attend Advanced Individual Training (AIT) in the specialty you chose when you enlisted. If you are at least 17 years old and a high school junior you can take advantage of the Split Training Option. In addition, college students or seasonal workers may also be eligible for this option.

College First Enlistment Option
The Army National Guard College First Enlistment Option provides applicants the opportunity to serve in the Army National Guard and complete up to two years of full-time schooling. Applicants that enlist under this option may be stabilized for up to 24 months upon completion of Initial Entry Training (IET) and reporting fully qualified to their unit of assignment.

ROTC Simultaneous Membership Program
The Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP) is a program that offers Army ROTC cadets hands-on experience in an Army National Guard unit. When you choose the SMP option, you are both a Soldier in the Army National Guard and a cadet in the Army ROTC Program. Upon graduation you will receive your commission as a 2nd Lieutenant, and serve in either the Army National Guard, Army Reserve, or in the Active Army.

Officer Candidate School
If you already have 90 college semester credits and you meet the eligibility requirements, you can join the Army National Guard under the state Officer Candidate School (OCS) enlistment option.

Civilian Acquired Skills Program
The Civilian Acquired Skills Program (CASP) attracts and uses persons with civilian-acquired skills required by the Army National Guard. Persons qualified for the CASP may be given an advance in grade upon enlistment. They may be entitled to accelerated promotion based on the skill level held and demonstrated duty performance.


Interested in being a member of our team? Join us for a weekend drill to participate in real Army National Guard training. You will see for yourself what being a Citizen-Soldier is all about.  Contact your recruiter to get the details.
  • Emily “Smiles” Anderson takes part in the 177th Fighter Wing’s Pilot for a Day program. Pilot for a Day supports children with serious or chronic medical conditions to give them a special day away from daily challenges and to raise community awareness about their continuing fight! #pilotforaday #airnationalguard #nationalguard #guard #airforce
  • U.S. Air Force Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, 28th Chief of the National Guard Bureau and member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, talks with a 2nd Battalion, 113th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Warrior Soldier during a visit on base, July 7, 2019. The last stop on the annual USO Tour led by Gen. Lengyel included six countries in Europe, Southwest Asia and Africa, designed to boost morale and express thanks and appreciation to deployed U.S. forces and their families for their service and sacrifice in support of the Joint Force mission. #nationalguard #armynationalguard #infantry #deployed
  • New Jersey Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Rafiq Pickett, an Airman with the 108th Security Forces Squadron, completes an obstacle course on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., June 25, 2019. SFS coordinated a two-week tactical training that included one week of classroom coursework and an additional week of field activities, such as active shooter, MOUT (military operations in urban terrain) training, and an obstacle course. 📸 by Airman 1st Class Andrea Williamson. #airnationalguard #nationalguard
  • Soldiers with New Jersey’s 1-114th Infantry Regiment (Air Assault) Counter-UAS Operators stand for a portrait at their deployed location in Qatar. #usarmy #soldiers #nationalguard
  • She said yes! U.S. Army Spc. Josh Inman, with our B Company, 1-150th Assault Helicopter Battalion, proposed to his girlfriend Liz on June 28, 2019. Photos by Sgt. Jeff Angle . #usarmy #armynationalguard #nationalguard #soldier #goarmy #proposal
  • Col. Yvonne Mays speaks during the New Jersey National Guard's Joint Enlisted Development Event on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., June 28, 2019. #jbmdl #joint #training #nationalguard