How to Join the Army as a Professional

by Eric Strauss

The United States Army has a Direct Commission Program that enables highly skilled professionals to enter the service as an officer. The three specialized areas in which a professional can earn a direct commission are the Army Medical Department, the Army Judge Advocate General Corps and the Army Chaplain Corps.

Make sure your specialized skill is in demand by the Army. Many types of personnel are eligible for the Medical Department, including doctors, dentists and veterinarians. As part of the Judge Advocate General Corps, attorneys might deal with anything from criminal cases to administrative legal assistance. Army chaplains can be of any recognized faith.

Ensure you meet the criteria for an Army officer. These include U.S. citizenship, a bachelor's degree, and physical and mental fitness. Each professional branch of the Army has its own particular requirements as well. For instance, doctors must have graduated from an accredited medical school and hold a current license to practice medicine. Lawyers must have graduated from an accredited law school and been accepted to the bar. And chaplains must have a graduate degree in theology or religion, and be certified as a clergy member of their faith.

Determine if you meet the age requirements. For example, JAG lawyers must be 42 years old or younger at the time of enlistment, while clergy must be at least 21 years old and not older than 42.

Contact an Army recruiter to join the Direct Commission Program. Request an active duty assignment and determine the terms of enlistment. For example, lawyers must sign up for a four-year term, while chaplains only have to sign up for three years.


  • Professionals can also join the Army Reserve or National Guard. Requirements vary slightly from active duty qualifications.

About the Author

Eric Strauss spent 12 years as a newspaper copy editor, eventually serving as a deputy business editor at "The Star-Ledger" in New Jersey before transitioning into academic communications. His byline has appeared in several newspapers and websites. Strauss holds a B.A. in creative writing/professional writing and recently earned an M.A. in English literature.

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