Determining How Your ASVAB Scores Affect Your Enlistment in Job-Training Programs

Each service branch has its own individual system of ASVAB scores. Recruiters and military job counselors use these scores, along with other factors such as job availability, security clearance eligibility, medical qualifications, and physical strength, to match potential recruits up with military jobs.

When you sit down with your recruiter to discuss your ASVAB scores, you may think he suddenly decided to speak in a foreign language. Don't get too confused about the terms used for various scores on the ASVAB. For job-qualification purposes, simple is better.

Remember three key terms and their definitions:

  • Standard score: A standard score refers to individual ASVAB subtest scores (that is, Verbal Expression, Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, and so on).
  • Line score: A line score combines various standard scores that the services use for job qualification purposes.
  • AFQT score: Calculated from the math and English subtests of the ASVAB, the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score is used by the military to determine overall enlistment qualification.

During the initial enlistment process, your service branch determines your military job or enlistment program based on established minimum line scores. If you get an appropriate score in the appropriate areas, you can get the job you want — as long as that job is available and you meet other qualification factors.

For active duty, the army is the only service that offers a guaranteed job for all its new enlistees. In other words, every single army recruit knows what her job is going to be before she signs the enlistment contract.

The other active duty services use a combination of guaranteed jobs and guaranteed aptitude/career areas:

  • Air Force: About 40 percent of active duty air force recruits enlist with a guaranteed job. The majority enlist in one of four guaranteed aptitude areas, and during basic training, recruits are assigned to jobs that fall into that aptitude area.
  • Coast Guard: The Coast Guard rarely, if ever, offers a guaranteed job in its active duty enlistment contracts. Instead, new "Coasties" enlist as undesignated seamen and spend their first year (or so) of service doing general work ("Paint that ship!") before finally applying for specific job training.
  • Marine Corps: A vast majority of Marine Corps active duty enlistees are guaranteed one of several job fields, such as infantry, avionics, logistics, vehicle maintenance, aircraft maintenance, munitions, and so on. Each of these fields is further divided into specific subjobs, called Military Occupation Specialties (MOSs). Marine recruits usually don't find out their actual MOS until about halfway through basic training.
  • Navy: Most navy recruits enlist with a guaranteed job, but several hundred people each year also enlist in a guaranteed career area, then "strike" (apply) for the specific job within a year of graduating boot camp.

All enlistment contracts for the reserve forces (regardless of branch), on the other hand, contain guarantees for a specific job. Why? Because reserve recruiters recruit for vacancies in specific reserve units, usually located within 100 miles of where a person lives.

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