Joining the Army comes with a lot of perks: traveling around the globe, learning valuable new skills while getting paid and earning educational benefits. Depending on which job you enlist for, and for how long, you may also be eligible for sign-on benefits. This is extra money separate from your normal pay, considered a bonus for the skills and commitment you bring to the Army.
Before you can qualify for any enlistment bonus, you first have to qualify for enlistment itself. As of 2013, you must be a U.S. citizen, or permanent alien resident, between the ages of 17 and 35, according to the U.S. Army website. You must also be in sound physical health, have a good moral standing and hold at least a high school diploma. G.E.D.s (General Education Diplomas) are accepted. If you have a college degree you may qualify for officer status.
Jobs Earning Bonuses
As of 2013, there are 17 positions in high demand in the Army that will earn you a $15,000 sign-on bonus if you enlist for three years, and six positions that will earn you the same amount if you enlist for four, according to Military.com. These jobs include: infantryman, cannon crewmember, field artillery specialist, fire support specialist, multiple launch rocket system crewmember, field artillery radar operator, PATRIOT missile system and launching operators, air defense operations maintainer, special forces candidate, satellite communications operator, light-wheeled vehicle mechanic, quartermaster and chemical equipment repairer, explosive ordnance disposal specialist, motor transport operator, food service operator, petroleum supply specialist, radio communications repairer, parachute rigger, special electronic devices repairer, electronic warfare/cryptologic operator, ammunition specialist and multiple rocket launch system specialist.
Officer/Special Knowledge Bonuses
The positions mentioned above are not the only avenues to an Army enlistment bonus. Having college credits under your belt can earn you between $1,000 and $8,000, depending on your graduate level, says Military.com. Having a skill critical to the Army's needs, such as being fluent in another language or having X-ray certification, can earn as much as $10,000. Applicants who enlist in airborne training can earn either $3,000 or $6,000 depending on the specific job they choose. Both officer candidate training and warrant officer flight training pay $10,000 when completed. Being able to speak a Middle Eastern language and enlisting in the Army Reserves is worth $10,000. All of these bonuses can be combined up to a maximum of $40,000.
How Bonuses are Paid
The Army typically pays half of your bonus after basic training, says Military.com. The remaining half is either paid at the end of your enlistment or in annual installments throughout your enlistment. The Army National Guard, on the other hand, quite often pays its bonuses in lump sums. Depending on which bonus you qualify for, you may receive the bonus after you've completed necessary training, such as with the officer training school. Remember, though, if you fail to fulfill your end of the commitment you will have to repay any portion of your bonus not due to you. For instance, if you're discharged early or you drop one position to train for another, you won't qualify for the full bonus.
Brooke Julia has been a writer since 2009. Her work has been featured in regional magazines, including "She" and "Hagerstown Magazine," as well as national magazines, including "Pregnancy & Newborn" and "Fit Pregnancy."