A Day in the Life of a Navy-Enlisted

Of all the branches of the armed forces, the Navy seems to be the one most flavored with the scent of adventure. Who wouldn't want to travel around the world on an enormous (or not so enormous) ship and see exotic locales such as Hawaii, Australia or Japan? Of course, if you're stationed on a patrolling nuclear submarine it's tough to go sightseeing. An enlistee in the Navy can be vastly entertained or vastly restless and bored. Once one enlists in the Navy, they decide where to send you, and you have almost no voice in the matter. So if you hate to travel, or are afraid of water and are hoping to be stationed in Iowa, this may not be the branch of the armed forces for you.

Paying Your Dues

To become one of the 373,612 members of Navy personnel on active duty, you must be a high school graduate, a US citizen or resident alien; and take the ASVAB (Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery), a test designed to determine your skills and placement. The Navy has three different sets of training: Primary (fitness, similar to boot camp or Basic), Intermediate (necessary skills aboard a ship), and Advanced (more in depth than Intermediate).

Present and Future

The United States Navy has been an important part of nearly every American war. The role of the Navy was changed forever in 1910, when an American civilian pilot successfully launched a plane from an aircraft carrier. This led to the Aircraft Carrier’s evolution into the dominant ship in naval warfare in the middle and latter half of the twentieth century. Most notably, the Navy became arguably the most important branch of the armed forces in the modern nuclear age, when submarines became able stay underwater for years at a time and carry nuclear weapons.

Quality of Life


To enlist in the Navy, one must have a high school diploma. But because the Navy "places a lot of value on an education," there are opportunities to earn money for college through the Montgomery G.I. Bill. There are also employment-specific scholarships, such as the Navy College Assistance/Student Headstart for high school or college students who qualify for work in a nuclear field. The Navy also has plans to help potential medical and legal professionals pay for graduate school. In order to join the Navy, enlistees have to sign an enlistment contract, which in most cases involves a commitment to 8 years of service. Depending on the terms of the contract, 2 to 6 years are spent on active duty and the rest spent in the Naval Reserves. The enlistment contract obligates the Navy to provide the agreed-upon job, rank, pay, cash bonuses for enlistment in certain occupations, medical and other benefits, occupational training, and continuing education. In exchange, enlisted personnel must serve satisfactorily for the specified period of time.


Life on a naval base or ship can be hard for some and easy for others.  You'll have work to do every day, and the hours (depending on your job) will be somewhat irregular. You also won't be able to go home for months or even possibly years at a time. However, the Navy also considers such "intangible benefits...such as preserving the freedom of your country." A side benefit of being a Navy employee is that you might (depending on availability of space) be able to reserve a flight anywhere in the world for your vacation on a military plane. For free.


Most enlistees don’t stay in the Navy for this long, but if one has shown enough leadership ability to be appointed as an officer, then an extended stay in the Navy is a possibility. Pay, authority, and responsibility increase.