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How do I Become a Navy SEAL?

By G. Wiesen
Updated: Jan 25, 2024

To become a Navy SEAL you will have to meet certain qualification requirements to apply to the SEAL training program and be chosen to begin the training. Navy SEAL training consists of more than 12 months of initial training, followed by another 18 months of specialized training in specific fields or a chosen area of specialization. The physical and mental stamina required to become a Navy SEAL is significant, and the basic training consists of the most grueling physical and mental training that exists in the United States (US) Armed Services.

Navy SEALs are named for the environmental conditions for which they are trained to fight in: sea, air, and land. They fall within a division of the US Navy referred to as Naval Special Warfare or Naval Special Operations. Established by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, the training required to become a Navy SEAL has since become a high watermark for measuring the limits to which the human body can be pushed.

To become a Navy SEAL, you must first meet certain basic qualifications to even apply. You must be a man no older than 28 years of age, a US citizen, and meet physical and eyesight requirements as well as achieving sufficiently high scores on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) examinations. Minimum requirements for physical screening also include the ability to swim 500 yards (over 450 meters) within 12 minutes 30 seconds, rest 10 minutes, perform 42 push-ups within two minutes, rest two minutes, perform 50 sit-ups within two minutes, rest two minutes, perform six pull-ups without a time limit, rest 10 minutes, then complete a 1.5 mile (almost 2.5 km) run within 11 minutes and 30 seconds. These are the minimum requirements just to be considered to actually receive training to become a Navy SEAL.

If you are accepted into Navy SEAL training, then you will have to complete the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL, or BUD/S, training. This consists of 24 weeks of rigorous exercise and training, beginning with three weeks of orientation to prepare you for the following 21 weeks. The next seven weeks are used for physical conditioning, with the fourth week of this training consisting of five and a half days of constant physical training with a maximum of four hours of sleep total during this time. After physical conditioning, a seven-week program on combat diving is completed, then a land warfare training program for another seven weeks.

This is followed by a three-week parachute jump program that culminates in testing that requires you to make night jumps, combat equipped, at a minimum altitude of 9,500 feet (almost three km). Following the BUD/S training, you will have to complete a further 26 weeks of SEAL qualification training. This includes learning tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) for naval special warfare including lessons in cold-weather survival and close-quarter combat. If you complete this training, you will receive your Navy SEAL trident and can them move on to advanced training in areas such as medic specialization or officer training.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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