Enlist Now and You Could Get Up to a $50,000 Army Signing Bonus

A group of students stand attention after physical training exercises for the Army.
Students in the new Army prep course stand at attention after physical training exercises at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C., Aug. 27, 2022. The U.S. Army will pay up to $50,000 to recruits who qualify and sign on for a six-year active-duty enlistment. Sean Rayford/AP Photo

Uncle Sam wants you, and he’s willing to pay you a good chunk of cash.

The U.S. Army announced that it will pay up to $50,000 – its largest bonus ever – to recruits who qualify and sign on for a six-year active-duty enlistment. The bonus package is based on a number of factors that include the selected career field, individual qualifications, length of the contract and the ship date for training.

“This is an opportunity to entice folks to consider the Army,” said Brig. Gen. John Cushing in a press release.

Since 2020, the Army has struggled, just like the private sector, in attracting talent, and officials hope the incentives coupled with some other changes will begin to draw qualified young people.

“We are still living the implications of 2020 and the onset of COVID, when the school systems basically shut down,” Maj. Gen. Kevin Vereen, head of Army Recruiting Command, told the Associated Press. “We lost a full class of young men and women that we didn’t have contact with, face-to-face.”

Here’s how the new incentives work.

How to Score Up to $50K in Army Signing Bonuses

The career-based incentives range from $1,000 to $40,000 depending on the field. The more difficult-to-hire positions will offer a higher bonus. Occupations can range from well-known careers, like infantry and Special Forces, to lesser known, such as radar repairers, signal support systems specialists and motor transport operators.

The Army is also offering “quick ship” bonuses – which increased to $40,000 in 2022  – for recruits who can go to Basic Training within 30 days. The sooner the recruit can leave, the more cash he or she will receive.

Going to Airborne Training can bring $10,000 and Ranger Training can bring up to $20,000. Foreign language skills can bring in as much as $40,000 in specific career paths.

A combination of all these incentives will bring the largest bonuses into play.

“For example, a six-year enlistment as an air and missile defense crewmember starts with $40,000. Right now, that occupation also qualifies for a $9,000 critical accession bonus,” the Army said in its press release. “If the individual decides to ship to training within the next 30 days, the addition of a quick-ship bonus would get the recruit to the maximum amount.”

The Army is also promoting other new changes to attract talent: shorter, two-year enlistments for 84 different career fields and the opportunity for recruits to pick their duty station.

“We know this generation likes to have the opportunity to make their own decisions, so now they can choose where they want to be assigned after training,” Vereen said. “…Many people are apprehensive about long-term commitments right now, so we think having a shorter option will help give them some time to see if the Army fits their life and goals.”

Robert Bruce is a senior staff writer at The Penny Hoarder covering earning, saving and managing money. He has written about personal finance for more than a decade.