Army Enlistment Bonuses

The quick ship bonus pays up to $20,000

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, so you know there must be something attractive about it.

There is: bonuses of up to $20,000, offered to convince recruits who are undecided about enlisting.

How the Quick Ship Bonus Works 

The quick ship bonus is available for qualified recruits in select Military Occupational Specialties, known as MOSs or – in plain English – 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. 

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.

A Career in the Army 

The National Defense Authorization Bill of 2017 requires 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. 

Want to learn more about Army enlistment incentives? See our Army Enlistment Incentives Menu.