Army Enlistment and Re-Enlistment Bonuses

There are two types of enlistment bonuses

Army Re-enlist

There are two types of enlistment bonuses currently offered by the Active Duty Army: Enlistment bonuses for non-prior service recruits and enlistment bonuses for prior service recruits who have been separated from the military for 91 or more days. Those separated from the military for 90 days or less would use the regular re-enlistment bonus charts.

Difference Between Enlistment Bonus and Re-Enlistment Bonus

Now, there are RE-ENLISTMENT bonuses that military enlisted personnel is offered at the end of their previous enlistment time is coming to a close. These re-enlistment bonuses also depend on the service member's rank, rate or MOS, and the needs of the military for keeping certain qualifications. If you have a critically needed skill, your re-enlistment bonus could be significant.

Enlistment Bonuses Available

Non-Prior Service enlistment bonus amounts are based on the MOS (job) and the number of years one is enlisting for. If you are a recruit about the join the military and have highly sought after skills or qualify for challenging jobs within the military (nuclear, special ops, linguist, medical, etc), you could also be eligible for an enlistment bonus or a "signing bonus" just for joining the military. Some of these one-time special bonuses can be as high as $40,000. 

Quick Ship Bonuses For Recruits

There are also bonuses for those recruits who are ready to go to basic training immediately and can ship within 30 days. These bonuses range from $8,000 to $20,000 depending on the urgency of filling a critical needs position in training and how quickly you are able to depart civilian life for boot camp. 

The U.S. Army has certain recruitment goals that it sometimes struggles to meet. This was the case in 2007 when it introduced the "quick ship" bonus. The program became effective in July of that year and it is still in effect. More than 3,800 recruits signed up within the first three weeks, and more than 4,100 had enlisted by August 23. Clearly, there must be something attractive about it.

The quick ship bonus is available for qualified recruits in select Military Occupational Specialties — military jobs. They must enlist for at least two years and agree to report for basic training within 30 days. Bonus levels have been seasonal or graduated since September 2007: $20,000, $15,000 or $6,000, depending on the selected MOS.

Quick Ship 31-60 Days: The bonus is $3,000 for recruits who report within 31 to 60 days. All eligible recruits must have high school diplomas and must score at least a 50 on the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery, known as the ASVAB. The MOS must also be listed as eligible for a seasonal bonus in the Army recruiting computer system.

This bonus may be combined with other enlistment incentives, such as an enlistment bonus with a quick ship bonus, but the maximum total combined bonus amount that any one person can receive is capped at $40,000. Not all Army jobs offer enlistment bonuses.

Payment of Bonuses

Recruits who enlist for cash bonuses totaling more than $10,000 will receive their initial payment of $10,000 upon successful completion of initial entry training — basic training and job training. The remaining bonus amount will be paid in annual increments of up to $10,000 a year until the bonus is paid in full.

Enlistment bonuses totaling less than $10,000 are paid in one lump sum upon successful completion of initial entry training.

Prior Service enlistment bonus amounts are based on the following standards:
1 - MOS (job),
2 - Time in Service
3 - Re-enlistment zone "multiplier"
4 - Rank of individual
5 - Years individual is re-enlisting 

If a prior service member qualifies for re-enlistment with a certain set of skills the military needs, he/she could qualify for a bonus if they join for a new enlistment contract.

An example of this process occurring is explained below:

The amount of bonus depends on the “Multiplier” assigned to the MOS, the individual’s rank, the member’s time in service, and the number of years the individual re-enlists for. In some cases, the bonus multiplier also depends on where the individual is stationed.

The Bonus “Zone” is simply the amount of time the person has been in the military:

Zone A: Soldiers who re-enlist with between 17 months and 6 years of service.

Zone B: Soldiers, who — at the time of re-enlistment — have between 6 years and 10 years of service.

Zone C: Soldiers who re-enlist with between 10 and 14 years of service.

The formula to compute the bonus amount is:


Bonuses are paid in Lump Sum, at the time of re-enlistment.

Member must have been separated for more than 90 days, but less than 4 years.

Soldiers must reenlist for three years (at least)

Soldiers with broken service selective reenlistment bonus program will reenter on active duty in grades E-4 through E-6 depending upon qualifications and vacancies — in other words, “the needs of the Army”.

A Career in the Army

The National Defense Authorization Bill of 2017 required that the U.S. Army beef up its ranks by 16,000 soldiers by September 30, 2017, so it's unlikely that the quick ship bonus will be eliminated anytime soon. The U.S. Army Recruiting Command has earmarked $300 million for various enlistment bonuses.

Although basic pay is not known for being generous, the Army offers several perks to compensate, including cost of living allowances, superior health care, tuition assistance, and, of course, a variety of bonuses and special pay for certain skills and duties. Pay grades increase as you move up in rank. You can specialize in any one of numerous fields, including military intelligence, electronics, field artillery or communications.

And remember — the quick ship bonus is based on a two-year enlistment, so you don't necessarily have to spend the rest of your life in the Army to collect it.