How ASVAB Scores Determine Military Training Programs and Jobs
Each service branch has its own system for 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 up potential recruits with military jobs.
During the initial enlistment process, your service branch determines your military job or enlistment program based on established minimum line scores: various combinations of scores from individual subtests. 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 looks at the scores and offers a guaranteed job for all its new enlistees. In other words, every single Army recruit knows what his or her job is going to be before signing the enlistment contract. The other active duty services use a combination of guaranteed jobs or guaranteed aptitude/career areas:
Air Force: About 40 percent of active duty Air Force recruits enlist with a guaranteed job. The majority enlists in one of four guaranteed aptitude areas, and during basic training, recruits are assigned to a job that falls 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 Occupational Specialties (MOS). Marine recruits usually don’t find out their actual MOSs 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 and then strike (apply) for the specific job within a year of graduating boot camp.
All enlistment contracts for the reserve forces (regardless of branch) 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.