If you’re wondering how to become a Navy SEAL, you probably already know that it won’t be easy.
The United States Navy SEALs are an elite group of special operations military members. SEAL stands for Sea, Air and Land, and Navy SEALs are expected to serve across these three mediums. They have a reputation as some of the toughest service members in the armed forces, and they’ve done a lot to earn it.
Navy SEALs make up only 1% of Navy personnel. Currently, there are nine SEAL teams; four on the East Coast, four on the West Coast, and one SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team. In total, there are about 2,450 active duty Navy SEALs.
The first step in learning how to become a Navy SEAL is realizing that it’s not like G.I. Jane or any other Hollywood movies. You have to ask yourself: Why do I want to do this? And you better come up with a pretty motivating response — because you’ll need to remind yourself during all the times that you’ll want to quit.
How To Become a Navy SEAL
First, you should know it’s a long road to becoming a Navy SEAL. It takes at least a year and a half to get from enlistment to being a full-fledged SEAL Team member.
But the good news is, once you get there you can earn a starting pay of up to $60,000, as well as benefits such as health insurance and funding for your education. While many people argue that it’s not enough, military pay is largely based on rank and years of experience. So, if you stay in the service long enough, you can end up with a pretty hefty paycheck and a great retirement plan.
If you want to make more money off the bat, you can always consider becoming a Navy SEAL Officer. Generally, to become an Officer you’ll need to commission through the U.S. Naval Academy, the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps, or Officer Candidate School. (Hint: That’s not easy either).
However, if you want to go about it the old fashioned way like most people, you’ll need to start off by seeing your local Navy recruiter. They can give you the best advice on beginning your career with the Navy — and your candidacy for the elite Navy SEALs.
But before you see a recruiter, make sure you even qualify to start SEAL training first.
Navy SEAL Requirements
Here are the basic requirements to become a Navy SEAL. You must:
- Be 18-28 years of age
- Have vision that’s 20/70 or better
- Not be colorblind
- Be a native-born or naturalized U.S. citizen and fluent in English
- Have no criminal record
The age requirement has a few exceptions. If you’re 17, you can join up with a parent’s signature. If you’re looking to become a Navy SEAL Officer, you can submit an age waiver, although applicants over 30 aren’t likely to be accepted. And if you have prior SEAL service, you are eligible to become an Officer until you’re 33 years old.
Men and women are both welcome to try to fulfill their dreams of becoming Navy SEALs. However, no women have succeeded yet.
Talk to a Recruiter
If you fit the Navy SEAL requirements, you can start your journey to becoming a Navy SEAL through your local recruiter. It’s important to listen to your recruiter, but take what they say with a grain of salt; recruiters are there to fill quotas, so they’re going to want you to sign up for the position they need most.
Basically, if they try to talk you out of being a SEAL, don’t let them. Not if it’s really what your heart’s set on.
When visiting your recruiter, bring your Social Security card, state identification, birth certificate, work history, and references. You’ll want at least three references who can vouch for your character and also verify the information you’ve given your recruiter.
Make sure to tell your recruiter you want a SEAL Challenge Contract. That way, when you enlist, you’ll be awarded a $12,000 SEAL sign-on bonus. This also ensures that you’re on the fast-track to becoming a SEAL. You can also enlist in the Navy and choose to become a SEAL later, but if you already know from the start you might as well get the bonus.
If you’re deemed fit for the Navy, your recruiter will put you in contact with a Naval Special Warfare coordinator who can give you advice and help set up your Physical Screening Test, or PST.
That’s another thing: To become a Navy SEAL, you’ll need to pass both the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) and the SEAL PST.
Navy SEAL ASVAB
The ASVAB is something everyone needs to take before entering the military. It scores you based on a variety of things, including:
- Word knowledge
- Paragraph comprehension
- Mathematics knowledge
- Arithmetic reasoning
- General science knowledge
- Auto information
- Mechanical comprehension
- Electronics information
- Numerical operations
- Coding speed
The minimum you most score to qualify for the Navy SEALs is GS+MC+EI=170 or VE+MK+MC+CS=220 or VE+AR=110 MC=50.
Basically, this means you need to have scored high in the combined following areas:
- General Science (GS), Mechanical Comprehension (MC), and Electronics Information (EI)
- Verbal Expression (VE), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), Mechanical Comprehension (MC), and Coding Speed (CS)
- Verbal Expression (VE) and Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) with an additional high score in Mechanical Comprehension (MC)
To prepare for the ASVAB, you should ask your recruiter for tips, look up study manuals, and take free practice tests.
When you sign your Navy contract, you’ll also take the ASVAB, a physical, and a background screening. All of these tests will identify whether you’re qualified to become a Navy SEAL. If you’re not, you’ll need to sign for another job rating, or not sign at all.
Your contract will have an official boot camp date on it, but if you pass your SEAL PST then you should be able to skip boot camp and go straight to SEAL training.
Navy SEAL Physical Screening Test
When you looked up how to become a Navy SEAL, you were probably imagining a list of rigorous physical standards that look almost impossible to achieve. Well, here’s the start of that.
The Navy SEAL PST acts as a gatekeeper; only allowing the fittest recruits through to SEAL training. SEAL training has an extremely high dropout rate, so they need to be sure that you’re physically ready to take on such strenuous training before you even enter.
Here are the minimum requirements to pass the Navy SEAL PST:
- 500-yard breast/side stroke swim: 12 minutes 30 seconds
- 2 minutes of push ups: 50 repetitions
- 2 minutes of sit ups: 50 repetitions
- Dead-hang pull ups: 10
- 1.5 mile run: 10 minutes 30 seconds
If you meet these physical requirements, you’ll sign your SEAL contract. But it’s important to remember that they will make you take this test again two weeks before you start SEAL training, so don’t get lax on your workouts.
Also, you should be aiming higher than the minimum requirements. If you’re going to become a Navy SEAL, you’ll need to be the best of the best.
After you get your SEAL contract, you’ll begin what’s known as the Navy SEAL boot camp. It’s eight weeks of training that emulates the regular Navy boot camp, but with SEAL standards.
This training will take place in Great Lakes, Illinois, and you’ll be required to take an initial PST when you get there, and another before you leave. The final PST is harder than the first, with a 1,000-meter swim and four-mile run. If you don’t meet the requirements, you’ll be placed in another rating in the Navy.
But if you do make it through SEAL boot camp, you’ll be on your way to the infamous BUD/S: Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training. BUD/S is the core of Navy SEAL training and lasts for 24 grueling weeks. It has a dropout rate of around 75%.
There are three basic phases to BUD/S that each last seven weeks, including:
- Phase I: Conditioning — making sure you are physically and mentally tough enough to be a SEAL.
- Phase II: Underwater skills like combat swimming and SCUBA diving
- Phase III: Specialized skills in weaponry, demolition, navigation, and small-unit tactics
The first three weeks, however, just cover orientation. And the instructors will be doing everything in their power to get you to quit. This could include binding your feet and hands and making you try to swim, throwing you in water at freezing temperatures, and performing other physical exercises while wet, sandy, and cold.
If you make it through orientation and all three phases, you’ll be done with BUD/S. But, that doesn’t mean you’re done with SEAL training. Far from it.
After BUD/S, SEAL recruits must complete a variety of specialized training to gain the skills that a Navy SEAL must possess. This training includes:
- Parachute Jump School
- Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) School
- Tactical Air Operations
All together, it’s another 26-plus weeks of training. The good news is that once you make it through BUD/S, you’re a lot less likely to drop out. This period of SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) focuses on specific TTPs (Tactics, Techniques and Procedures) and makes you learn them through teamwork.
Once you’ve made it through, you’re ready to become a Navy SEAL, and you’ll be awarded the Navy SEAL trident.
How To Become a Navy SEAL
The road to becoming a Navy SEAL is the most physically and mentally challenging journey you will ever embark upon.
It requires high scores on your ASVAB, Navy SEAL PST, and SEAL boot camp tests. Then, you must make it through the 24-week long BUD/S course and a longer period of specialized training. And once you gain the title of Navy SEAL, you don’t stop there.
All SEALs undergo further specialized training that could focus on foreign languages, tactical communications, parachuting, weaponry, and more. This specialty will be their rating, and will help them identify and hone specific skills they can use to best serve their comrades.
You can make a real impact on the world as a member of the prestigious U.S. Navy SEALs. As a Navy SEAL, know that you will never stop learning, and you will serve the United States in one of the highest capacities possible.
To learn more about how to become a Navy SEAL, click here.