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I Just Got Out of Basic Training — Now What?


Wondering what happens after basic training? Well, the answer varies based on what branch of service you’re in and your specific military career path. For the most part, though, life after basic training can be broken into three milestones: First, you’ll graduate, then you’ll head off to more training specific to your specialty/assignment before finally preparing to report to your first duty station.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll go branch by branch and describe what the general path ahead looks like for each. Read on to find answers to the most common questions about life after basic training.

Graduating from Basic Training

Every recruit that successfully completes basic training will be invited to the graduation ceremony. Each military branch has its own way of conducting its graduation, but rest assured each is meaningful. Graduation is the time to showcase your transformation into a soldier, marine, sailor, airman, or guardian. 

Your family will receive communication about your graduation ceremony from your Commander, usually about two weeks in advance. While finishing this chapter and reuniting with loved ones is certainly cause for celebration, it’s important to note that your graduation ceremony is a serious occasion. You and your family’s demeanor should reflect that.

Army Life After Basic Training

Do You Go to Advanced Individual Training (AIT) Right After Basic Training?

Yes, after graduation, you’ll move on to AIT — Advanced Individual Training. In AIT school, you’ll learn the specific skills needed to master your job in the Army. AIT can last from some weeks to several months, depending on your job.

At the beginning of AIT training, you won’t have much personal time or privileges like using your cell phone. However, as training progresses, you’ll start to receive more privileges. 

What Happens After AIT in the Army? 

After AIT, it’s time to report to your first duty station. This is where you’ll live and work for the next several years. You’ll be assigned to a unit and will likely have some downtime to get settled in before starting work.

Check in with your unit’s chain of command when you arrive at your duty station. They’ll have all of the necessary information regarding your specific duties and expectations.

For those looking forward to a vacation or trip home, you’ll have to wait until you earn enough leave days. The Army grants 30 days of leave per year, so plan accordingly. 

How Much Leave Will I Have?

You’ll earn paid time off at the rate of 2.5 days a month while at basic training and AIT. You can use this to take leave prior to reporting to your first duty station, or you can save it for later. All leave has to be approved, and the most common length is 10 days.

Marine Corps Life After Basic Training

How Long Is Military Occupational School (MOS) for Marines?

The amount of time a new Marine will spend at their MOS varies based on the speciality. Marines with an infantry MOS they will also attend the School of Infantry Infantry Training Battalion (ITBI) for 59 days, while non-combat MOS Marines attend Marine Combat Training Battalion (MCT) for 29 days.

What Is the Difference Between ITB and MCT?

In ITB, infantry Marines are transformed into combat soldiers. This advanced training will develop you into a skilled rifleman, machine gunner, mortarman, infantry assaultman, and anti-tank missileman. 

During MCT, you’ll learn basic combat skills like marksmanship, first aid, and hand-to-hand combat. You’ll also learn warfare basics, basic navigation, and how to operate in a combat environment.

What Happens After Marines Military Occupational School (MOS)?

After completing your designated MOS, you’ll be assigned to your first duty station. Deployment depends on your unit’s mission, but all Marines can expect to deploy at some point in their career. 

You’ll also be required to attend annual training, which typically lasts two weeks. This is a perfect opportunity to hone your skills and learn new ones.

When Can I Take Leave?

It’s important to note that you likely will not be able to take leave after SOI. However, you are entitled to one day of travel and 10 days of leave after completing basic training. 

Life After Basic and SOI for Infantry Marines

After SOI, you’ll be assigned to a unit at one of three locations: Twentynine Palms, California; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; or Okinawa, Japan. You may deploy anywhere in the world, but most deployments are to the Middle East.

Navy Life After Basic Training

How Long Is Navy A School Training?

After Pass-in-Review (PIR), your graduation ceremony, you’ll be sent to Navy A school. Ascension training, or A school, is where you’ll learn the specific skills needed for your job in the Navy. 

The length of A school varies depending on your job, but it can vary between 6 weeks to two years, depending on your rating.

What Happens After Navy A School?

After you’ve completed A school, you’ll be assigned to your first duty station. What comes next will depend on your specific job in the Navy. You have a 10-day leave after A school, so you can visit family and friends before you report to your first duty station.

Air Force Life After Basic Training

How Long Is Tech School for the Air Force?

All new Airmen will report to technical school for job training specific to their Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC). Air Force tech school lasts at least 6 weeks, but depending on your specialty, could last up to 72 weeks.

For instance, if you’re training to be a mechanic, you’ll spend about eight weeks in tech school. If you're planning to be a medical technician, you can expect to be in training for up to 44 weeks.

What Happens After Tech School?

The Air Force is a little different from other military branches in that recruits have a bit more say in where they’ll train as well as where they’re stationed after graduation. If all goes well, you’ll be assigned to your first duty station. Before shipping out, you’ll likely be able to take some leave.

This is a perfect opportunity to take a short trip home or relax before starting your new assignment. You may opt to report to your first duty station immediately, but keep in mind that the Air Force will pay for the travel expenses.

How Much Leave Will I Have?

After tech school, you’ll be able to take leave — usually up to 10 days — before reporting to your first duty station. If you haven’t accrued enough leave for some reason, you will be able to request “advanced leave,” meaning you will borrow from the time that you will accrue in the future.

Coast Guard Life After Basic Training

The Coast Guard is unique from other branches of service because there is no secondary training location for you to attend. Instead, you’ll have five days of leave before reporting to your first assignment.

Assignments are filled according to priority:

  1. Operational need of the service
  2. Your preferences
  3. Your qualifications

Most people are assigned to a duty station within the United States, but it’s possible to be stationed overseas. You may have the opportunity to deploy, depending on the needs of your unit. 

Space Force Life After Basic

The Space Force’s first guardians-only basic training — held separate from Air Force basic training — premiered in spring 2022. The curriculum centers on topics specific to the Space Force’s mission. Once you’ve completed all of your training, you’ll be assigned to a unit at one of three locations: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California; Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado; or Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. As for leave, you get up to 13 days of leave per year.

Maximize Military Benefits with AAFMAA

The benefits of basic training and joining the military will impact you physically and mentally. It also enables you to strengthen your financial well-being with help from  AAFMAA. By joining the service, you’re eligible for AAFMAA Membership and our exclusive membership benefits available only to military servicemembers, Veterans, and their families. 

You now have access to a wealth of personal finance information, guidance, and a variety of financial solutions designed specifically for new servicemembers like you, including the BeyondBasic™ life insurance policy. Unlike Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI), BeyondBasic will stay with you regardless of where life takes you, even after you leave the military. Acceptance is guaranteed if you’ve joined the military within the last nine months and the coverage you receive will fill in the gaps left by SGLI.

Your service has earned you the right to claim your Membership in the oldest military association and become part of the legacy of AAFMAA. Apply online today to get your  BeyondBasic policy and secure a financially stable life after basic. 

Since 1879, AAFMAA has been focused on ensuring the financial security of the community. Through our life insurance, Member benefits, survivor assistance services, wealth management, and home mortgage solutions, your financial future can be stronger than ever. To talk about your life insurance needs, call AAFMAA at 866-716-4579 or get a free quote for coverage right now. To speak with an AAFMAA Wealth Management & Trust LLC (AWM&T) Relationship Manager about building your portfolio, call 910-307-3500 or email [email protected]. Or if you’re looking to finance a home, call AAFMAA Mortgage Services LLC (AMS) Military Mortgage Advisor at 844-422-3622 or request a free mortgage assessment online.

Use of DoD imagery does not constitute or imply DoD endorsement. Photo by Marine Corps Cpl. Jesula Jeanlouis. A Marine exchanges greetings with a loved one at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Aug. 29, 2019, during liberty call, when families got to see new Marines before they graduate.