How to Become a Navy SEAL

battleship NAVY SEAL metalarcade

Osama bin Laden. The world’s most wanted man – a terrorist who had eluded arrest for nearly 10 years – was eventually neutralized by the US Navy SEALs (Sea, Land and Air teams). Navy seals are the elite of the elite, and their job is to conduct small-unit military operations. If you have the physical and mental stamina to undergo and complete the toughest of military training conditions, and you are prepared to put your life on the line for your country, here is how to become a SEAL.

See also: How to Become a Mercenary in the US

What do Navy SEALs do?

Their duties include:

  • Executing small-unit special maritime military operations, such as underwater demolitions
  • Conducting extractions by land, sea or air
  • Gathering intelligence with special reconnaissance missions
  • Capturing (alive or dead) high value targets such as terrorists and other enemies of the US
  • Conducting direct assaults against military targets (direct action warfare)

In general, Navy SEALs perform tasks that cannot be done by standard or regular soldiers.

Work environment

The work environment for Navy SEALs is not for the faint-hearted. While conducting special operations, SEALs can make amphibious landings from several thousands of feet above the ground, negotiate shallow waters, as well as operate in the jungle or desert.

The job is, obviously, physically and mentally taxing. They wear heavy boots and tactical vests and carry backpacks that can weigh well over 20kg. Don’t forget they also arm themselves with a small arsenal that includes grenades and firearms.

As an aspiring SEAL, be prepared to roll into action at any time of day or night.


According to, a naval special warfare website, starting Navy SEALs earn up to $60,000 annually. Also, SEALs enjoy medical and dental insurance cover and tax free allowances on housing and food.

Entry requirements

Many civilians become SEALs by requesting to join the SEAL Challenge Contract. This entry route enables you to gain some enlistment benefits, such as bonuses, as soon as you are accepted.

If you are unable to enter through this route, then you can volunteer to take the Physical Screening Test, which is typically conducted during the first week of army boot camp.

Another way is to enter another branch of the military, and then use a Navy recruiter to join the Navy, and finally apply for a transfer to join the SEALs.

Regardless of the entry route, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be an American citizen
  • Be male
  • Be between 18 and 28 years old – 17-year olds can enlist with parental permission
  • Have a clean criminal and drug background
  • Have at least a high school diploma
  • Pass a series of physical and medical examination tests – For example, you must be able to swim 500 yards (457 meters) within 12 minutes and 30 seconds.

Once you have met the requirements and passed all the tests, you will proceed to training at the Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School in Great Lakes, Illinois. The training is conducted in three stages as detailed below:

  • Stage 1 – Aptitude training (two months)
  • Stage 2 – Basic orientation (three weeks)
  • Stage 3 – First phase (Basic conditioning - seven weeks); Second phase (Combat diving, seven weeks); Third phase (Land warfare training, seven weeks)

If you make it to the third phase, you will graduate as a Special Warfare Operator. But don’t be happy yet. You will still have to undergo additional specialized training before you can finally become a Navy SEAL.

Important qualities

The skills and abilities you need to succeed as a Navy SEAL include:

  • Physical and emotional stamina
  • Practical skills
  • Self-discipline and confidence
  • Teamwork skills
  • Communication skills
  • Ability to take orders/follow instructions
  • Technical skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • The ability to think on your feet and act quickly
  • The willingness to go to war

Career advancement

In the military, vast experience is a crucial advancement tool. As you gain more experience, therefore, you can be selected for high value special operations. In time, you can progress to become a Seal Warrant Officer. If you demonstrate strong leadership skills, you could advance further to become a Chief Warrant Officer.

If you wish to train other aspiring SEALs, you can apply to become a SEAL instructor.

Employment epportunities

The US military is the only employer of Navy SEALs. However, many former Navy SEALs take up lucrative contracts as private military contractors and essentially become mercenaries.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts there will be good employment opportunities in all branches of the Armed Forces through 2022. However, only a few men with extraordinary abilities are selected to join the elite group of SEALs every year. It takes hard work and unwavering determination to become a SEAL.

See also: Why the Military is a Profession of the Future

The entry routes to becoming a SEAL can appear complicated, so if you have any questions, don’t forget to ask in the comments section below.