Follow your training and career path as a Soldier.
Enlisted Soldiers are the strength of the National Guard. While officers create the plans, enlisted Soldiers provide the muscle and manpower to see them through.
The Guard takes average men and women and molds them into something special. As a Soldier, you’ll learn about structure, discipline, service and commitment. You’ll become stronger—both physically and mentally—and be better equipped to take care of yourself and others in just about any situation.
Over the course of several weeks, you’ll make the transition from citizen to Citizen-Soldier, and your life will never be quite the same.
It all starts here.
There are a few steps you’ll take prior to actually becoming a Soldier. Before any fitness tests and long before you meet your first drill sergeant, you’ll need to contact a Pennsylvania National Guard Recruiter.
Once connected, you and your recruiter can decide if you’re a good fit for the Guard, you’ll submit an application, schedule tests to determine your physical fitness level, and assess which career field is right for you.
The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
Before you can join the Army National Guard, you’ll take a test called the ASVAB. Don’t let this exam intimidate you. It’s designed to find out what you’re good at, so we can find the best place in the Guard for you—the one where you’ll fit best and be most likely to succeed.
Basic Combat Training
Your ship date—the day you leave for Basic Combat Training (BCT)—will depend on the job you choose. You’ll probably ship within just a few weeks, but it’s possible to delay for up to several months. Until you ship, you’ll attend Recruit Sustainment Program (RSP). RSP will introduce you to military life and help you know what to expect once you get to BCT. You can count on BCT being one of the most intense 10 weeks of your life, but it will also be the best. Learn more about BCT.
From BCT you'll move to Advanced Individual Training (AIT), where you’ll learn your Military Occupational Specialty (MOS)—your Army National Guard job. During the next 2-12 months, you’ll get intensive field instruction and hands-on experience at your job, and learn the skills that will transform you into a great Soldier and teammate. AIT takes place at different Army military training sites across the U.S., and your location will depend on your MOS. You’ll be able to choose from jobs within the following career fields:
- Infantry: Get in on the action with the Guard’s warriors.
- Armor and Field Artillery: Long-range, quick-strike—the Guard’s thunder and lightning.
- Aviation: Protect the sky and the battlefield.
- Medical: Save lives and make the difference in emergencies.
- Military Police: Enforce the law and keep the peace.
- Transportation: Move the Guard’s supplies and Soldiers all over the world.
- Logistics Support: Supply troops with everything they need, on and off the battlefield.
- Mechanic and Maintenance: Keep the Guard’s machines up and running.
- Signal and Military Intelligence: Run the world’s most advanced information network.
- Engineer: Build the foundations and pave the way for Guard operations.
- Special Forces: The toughest training for the ultimate adventure.
- Administrative: Manage the Guard's payroll, records, news and image.
Your Commitment to the National Guard
When you enlist in the National Guard, you can choose to serve three, six or eight years—typically training just one weekend a month and two weeks a year. If you choose only three or six years, you’ll spend the remainder of the time in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR)—which means you won't train with a unit, but you can still be called up in the event of an emergency during the balance of your total eight-year commitment.*
You’ll train at a military base during BCT (10 weeks) and AIT (from six to 52 weeks, depending on your MOS). After that, most of your service and training will be in your own state and community. You’ll be able to live at home—not in military housing—while you’re in the Guard. You’ll continue your civilian job or go to school, then train one weekend a month at an armory or facility close to home. You’ll also attend Annual Training (AT) for two weeks, usually during the summer and usually at a location away from your hometown.
In the event of a deployment, whether domestic or overseas, you’ll travel and live with your unit. But as soon as your mission is over, you’ll continue to live and serve in your home community—as a true Citizen-Soldier.
*However long you choose to serve, every Soldier commits for a total of eight years. You’ll be paid for every day you serve in uniform. However, since IRR Soldiers don’t train, they don’t receive monthly pay unless called up to serve during an emergency. Learn more about Guard pay.
As you continue your Guard service, you'll have opportunities for promotion. Your leadership skills can have a big impact on both your Guard career and your civilian career. The Guard offers courses designed to help you become a more effective leader at every level, in any situation. If you’re interested in real-world training, improving your leadership and management skills, and advancing your military career, check out the opportunities offered through our leadership schools.