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Become a Navy SEAL: Education and Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a Navy SEAL. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in this special branch of the U.S. Navy. View article »

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  • 0:00 Navy Seal Career Info
  • 2:27 Sign The Contract
  • 3:45 Boot Camp
  • 4:22 Attend Special Warfare…
  • 4:47 Complete Further Seal Training

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Video Transcript

Navy SEAL Career Info

Navy SEALs are highly skilled soldiers named for the environments in which they conduct military operations: sea, air, and land. The group is part of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command, which is located in Coronado, CA. Navy SEALs are deployed worldwide and need to be in top physical and mental condition for extremely challenging assignments involving military activities as well as covert and unconventional warfare beyond the scope of standard U.S. military operations. Some Navy SEAL operations include performing underwater reconnaissance missions, collecting intelligence, and capturing enemy combatants.

Navy SEALs are subject to extremely dangerous circumstances. When applying, applicants must be aware that if they are not accepted into the Navy SEAL program, they must accept another Navy position and sign a contract.

Career Requirements

Educational Level High School Diploma or its equivalent; 2- or 4-year degree is advisable
Key Skills Ability to pass the physical screening test (PST) by performing the following physical activities in under the required times:
- Swim 500 yards in under 12.5 minutes
- Complete 42 push-ups in 2 minutes
- Perform 50 sit-ups in 2 minutes
- Do 6 pull-ups (no time limit)
- Run 1.5 miles in under 11 minutes (wearing boots and long pants)
Technical Skills Comprehension of basic mechanical, electrical, automotive and shop principles
Additional Requirements - Pass mental ability tests, a mental resilience test and a physical exam
- Obtain background screening and secret clearance
- Be a U.S. citizen between 17-28 years old
- Have vision correctable to 20/20
-Provide a 10-year housing history, names and addresses of employers, and personal references
Salary $1,516.20 plus allotments, bonuses, and incentives (varies according to rank, level of training, and experience)

Source: U.S. Navy

A college degree is not required; however, according to the U.S. Navy, 2- and 4-year degree holders are twice as likely to succeed as non-degree holders. An applicant must undergo a battery of screening tests. If those are passed, there is an intense training period and more testing before he can become a Navy SEAL. Individuals can enlist as civilians, as members of the Navy, or as members of other branches of the military.

Requirements include passing a physical screening test by completing the following:

  • Swim 500 yards in under 12.5 minutes
  • Complete 42 push-ups in 2 minutes
  • Perform 50 sit-ups in 2 minutes
  • Do 6 pull-ups (no time limit)
  • Run 1.5 miles in under 11 minutes (while wearing boots and long pants)

Interested parties must also:

  • Be a U.S. citizen between 17-28 years old
  • Have vision correctable to 20/20
  • Provide a 10-year housing history, names and addresses of employers, and personal references

The lowest starting monthly basic pay for Navy SEALs is $1,516.20 plus allotments, bonuses, and incentives. This amount varies according to rank, level of training, and experience.

Sign the Contract

Those interested in joining the Navy are required to have a high school diploma or its equivalent and pass a drug and alcohol test. Additionally, applicants with criminal convictions may be barred from joining the Navy. When joining the Navy, recruits should ask to enter the SEAL Challenge Program. Those who join the program receive an enlistment bonus. Applicants must pass a physical exam and complete a series of tests with passing scores, including the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test (ASVAB), the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT), and the Computerized-Special Operations Resilience Test (C-SORT).

Aspiring Navy SEALs are assigned a SEAL mentor and enter the Delayed Entry Program (DEP), which allows them to wait a designated time before reporting to boot camp. While in the DEP, mentors prepare recruits for the SEALs Physical Training Test (PST). To stay in the SEAL Challenge program, candidates must pass the PST twice before boot camp. Recruits who do not pass the PSTs will not be accepted into the Navy SEALs program but will still be obligated to sign a contract with the Navy.

Boot Camp

Navy recruits attend boot camp at the Navy Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, IL. Recruits who do not pass another PST within six weeks of starting boot camp are released from the SEAL Challenge Program. Boot camp consists of 1-hour fitness workouts and classroom lessons in topics such as naval history, first aid, Navy aircraft and ships, military customs, and uniform regulations. Recruits also receive hands-on training in firearms, combating fires onboard ships, and water survival techniques.

Attend Special Warfare Preparatory School

The Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School is a 2-month pre-SEALs training program. At the prep school, recruits take part in physical conditioning that includes running, swimming, and strength building. At the end of training, recruits must pass a longer and more difficult PST, which includes a 4-mile run and a 1000-meter swim, to qualify for SEAL training.

Complete Further SEAL Training

Recruits who pass their last PST begin BUD/S Training, which consists of a 3-week orientation followed by three 7-week segments. The physical conditioning portion of BUD/S training includes timed swims, runs, and obstacle courses that intensify over seven weeks. During the next phase, recruits learn scuba skills, underwater navigation, and combat diving. The last phase of BUD/S trains recruits in land warfare including firearms, rappelling, navigation, explosives, and intelligence gathering.

Navy SEAL recruits also complete free-fall and static line training at Tactical Air Operations. During training, recruits can learn emergency procedures, equipment management, landing techniques, and how to pilot a parachute. Recruits officially become Navy SEALs after passing SEAL Qualification Training (SQT), which includes Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) training.

To recap, aspiring Navy SEALs must meet specific background requirements and pass strenuous physical tests before they can begin the extensive training required to become a Navy SEAL.


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