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What Is the Highest Enlisted Rank You Can Enter the Army With?

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Most of the time, you enter the Army as a private, or E-1, during basic training. After finishing that training, you’ll generally be promoted to private, second class (E-2). However, with certain qualifications, training or experience, you can begin your Army career at a higher rank.

Getting a Jump-Start

Enlistees who completed one year of Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps participation or who earned at least 24 semesters of college credit can enter basic training as an E-2, or a private, second class. With three years or more of JROTC training or with 48 hours of college credit, you can enter as an E-3, or private, first class. A four-year college degree gives you the chance to start at E-4, or Army specialist. Prior military experience or skills in areas the Army needs, such as musical training, can also provide you entry as high as E-4.


Pamela Martin has been writing since 1979. She has written newsletter articles and curricula-related materials. She also writes about teaching and crafts. Martin was an American Society of Newspaper Editors High School Journalism Fellow. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Teaching in elementary education from Sam Houston State University and a Master of Arts in curriculum/instruction from the University of Missouri.

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