How to Become a Navy Seal

what does it take to become a navy seal

Established during the Kennedy administration in 1962, the Navy SEALs (Sea, Air, and Land teams) are among the most well-respected and highly trained Special Forces units in the entire U.S. military.

Navy SEALs are called upon to carry out specialized and dangerous missions that include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Extracting hostages from enemy territory
  • Capturing enemy combatants for interrogation
  • Demolishing enemy targets
  • Collecting intelligence through reconnaissance missions
  • Conducting small-unit, anti-terrorist missions

Although the Navy SEALs have been depicted on movie screens for decades, those stories may not always tell you what it’s really like to be a Navy SEAL. What you don’t see on screen is the years of preparation and exhaustive training it takes to go from civilian, to Navy recruit, to Navy SEAL.

In this article, we’re going to tell you how to become a Navy SEAL, step-by-step. 

Preparing for the Navy

what does it take to become a navy seal

Obviously, you can’t become a Navy SEAL without first joining the Navy. So, before you do anything else, follow these steps to become a Navy recruit.

  1. Meet the minimum requirements. In order to be accepted into the Navy:
  • You must be a U.S. citizen.
  • You must not be older than 28 years old.
  • Your eyesight should be no worse than 20/70, correctable to at least 20/25.
  • You should not be colorblind.
  • You must meet these physical requirements for a diver.
  1. Graduate from high school. Even if you’ve met the above requirements, no branch of the military will accept you if you haven’t received your high school diploma or GED. Once you have your diploma or GED and are at least 18 years old (or 17 with your parent’s permission), you can join the military.
  1. Consider a college degree. While a college degree isn’t a requirement for joining the military, many Navy SEALs do graduate from college with degrees in engineering, mathematics, computer science, or the physical sciences. Also, college graduates can often start their military careers at an officer ranking with a higher base salary.
  1. Meet with a Navy recruiter. During your senior year of high school or college, meet with a recruiter in your area who can talk to you about joining the Navy. During your conversation with the recruiter, mention that you have an interest in becoming a Navy SEAL. The recruiter may ask you to sign a SEAL Challenge Contract.

Signing a SEAL Challenge Contract before you enlist guarantees that you will have the opportunity to become a SEAL candidate. Plus, it may entitle you to a higher sign-on bonus than if you declare your intent to become a SEAL candidate after enrollment.

  1. Take the ASVAB test. Everyone who wants to join the military is required to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. This test includes sections on reading comprehension, mathematics, general science, electronics information, vocabulary knowledge, and more.
  1. Complete the CSORT. Only those interested in becoming a Navy SEAL will be required to take the Computerized-Special Operations Resilience Test (C-SORT). The C-SORT isn’t a knowledge-based test. It’s more like a personality test used to assess your mental fortitude and maturity level, which can help indicate how well you may handle the rigorous training program for Navy SEALs.

Beginning your Naval Career

what does it take to become a navy seal

Once you’ve completed the above steps, you’ll become a sailor in the U.S. Navy. Here are the additional steps you’ll need to take to become a full-fledged SEAL.

  1. Complete the Navy’s basic training. 
  1. Train for the Physical Screening Test. You will need to pass the Physical Screening Test (PST) before you’re accepted into the SEAL program. You’ll be assigned to a mentor who will help you train. Here are the minimum requirements you’ll be expected to meet:
  • Swim 500 yards in 12 minutes and 30 seconds or less.
  • Run 1.5 miles in 11 minutes and 30 seconds or less.
  • Complete 6 pull-ups.
  • Complete 75 push-ups in two minutes or less.
  • Complete 75 sit-ups in two minutes or less.
  1. Submit your application. Once you are able to pass the PST, your mentor will help you complete and submit your Navy SEAL application to the Navy Recruiting Command.


Training to Become a Navy SEAL

what does it take to become a navy seal

Assuming you’ve completed all steps up until this point and have been considered, you’ll now begin the specialized training required to become a Navy SEAL.

  1. Attend the SEAL prep course. The SEAL prep course takes place in Great Lakes, Illinois and lasts two months. Consider it to be a more intense version of Navy boot camp. In order to move to the next phase of training, you’ll be required to demonstrate that you can do the following:
  • Swim 500 yards in 9 minutes or less.
  • Run 1.5 miles in 10 minutes or less.
  • Complete at least 10 pull ups.
  • Complete at least 80 push-ups in two minutes or less.
  • Complete at least 80 in two minutes or less.
  1. Complete BUD/S training. The BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) training is designed to prepare you for the brutal physical and psychological conditions you’ll be exposed to as a SEAL in action. This 26-week course is divided into three phases:
    • Phase I: Physical and mental conditioning.
    • Phase II: SCUBA and underwater combat training.
    • Phase III: Training on weaponry, underwater demolition, navigation, and small-unit tactical warfare.

It’s during Phase I of BUD/S training where recruits will go through what is infamously known as “hell week.” This is quite possibly the worst five days of training they will endure. During hell week, recruits are constantly on the move: paddling boats, running through sand, swimming in rough waters, slogging through mud, carrying logs, and so much more. They barely sleep about 4 hours the entire 5 days!

Recruits are allowed to quit anytime during these 5 days—and many do. In fact, on average, only 25% of recruits will pass to the next level of training.

  1. Complete airborne and surface warfare training. After BUD/S, remaining recruits will go on to Fort Benning, Georgia where they’ll learn parachuting and receive more training in submersible vehicles and water-based combat.
  1. Pass SEAL Qualification Training (SQT). This 26-week program provides recruits with advanced training in demolition, weapons, small-unit warfare, navigation, submersible vehicles, and more.


Congratulations! You’re Now a Navy SEAL

what does it take to become a navy seal

Once you’ve completed all the phases above, you’ll graduate as a Navy SEAL and join the very few men and women who have achieved this accomplishment. You’ll be ready to use your training and expertise to help the United States succeed in military missions around the globe.

After your dedicated service as a SEAL and once you’re ready to transition into the civilian world, you’ll need a military to civilian resume that makes your specialized training and experience clear to civilian hiring managers.

Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for both professionals and servicemembers transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and was responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance. 

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