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.