Navy Enlisted Rating (Job) Descriptions and Qualification Factors

Navy Special Warfare Operators (SO)

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SEALs, or Navy Special Warfare Operator (SO), as they are now officially called, are named after the environments in which they operate, the SEa, Air and Land, and are the foundation of Naval Special Warfare combat forces. They are organized, trained and equipped to conduct a variety of special operations missions in all operational environments. Since 1962, when the first SEAL Teams were commissioned, Navy SEALs have distinguished themselves as individually reliable, collectively disciplined and highly skilled warriors.

Duties performed by SOs include:

  • Conducting insertions/extractions from the Sea, Air or Land (hence SEAL) to accomplish covert, special operations missions in any environment throughout the world.
  • Capturing high-value enemy personnel and terrorists around the world.
  • Collecting information and intelligence through special reconnaissance missions – reconnoitering both enemy installations and enemy movement.
  • Carrying out small-unit, direct-action missions against military targets.
  • Conducting underwater reconnaissance and the demolition of natural or man-made obstacles prior to amphibious landings.

    Working Environment

    SEALs perform Special Operations missions from fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, ships, and submarines. They may be exposed to arctic, desert or jungle environments including survival in enemy controlled areas and all water conditions. They may also perform administrative and foreign training missions in a wide variety of climates throughout the world.

    A-School (Job School) Information

    SOs go through what is considered by many military experts to be the toughest training, both physically and mentally demanding, in the world.

    • SEAL Preparatory Course, Great Lakes, IL, up to 4 weeks (new recruits only)
    • BUD/S training - Coronado, CA, 26 weeks
    • Basic Airborne Training - FT Benning, GA, 3 weeks
    • SDV (small, battery-powered wet submersibles) Training - Panama City, FL, 13 weeks

    After completion of BUD/S, and basic airborne training, graduates are assigned to SEAL and SDV Teams where they gain on-the-job experience as members of operational platoons/detachments.

    ASVAB Score Requirement: GS+MC+EI=165 or VE+MK+MC+CS=220

    Security Clearance Requirement: Secret

    Other Requirements

    • Must be U.S. citizen
    • At this time rating is closed to women
    • Vision no worse than 20/40 in one eye and 20/70 in the other eye, correctable to 20/20
    • Must have normal color perception
    • Must meet physical requirements IAW MANMED
    • No history of drug abuse.
    • Criminal History (except minor traffic violations) require a waiver.
    • Must be under age 29.

    Applicants must meet the following Initial Physical Fitness Requirments:

    500-yard swim in 12:30
    10-minute rest
    42 pushups in 2 minutes
    2-minute rest
    50 situps in 2 minutes
    2-minute rest
    6 pull-ups (no time limit)
    10-minute rest
    1.5 mile run in 11:30

    Note: Those who volunteer under the SEAL Challenge program at the time of enlistment, and those who volunteer during Navy Basic Training do not have to meet the above physical fitness standards at the time of application. However, they must meet similar standards before they can graduate from the SEAL Prep Course, prior to attending BUD/S.

    Note: Qualified candidates may volunteer for SO at the time of enlistment, via the "SEAL Challenge" program, or may volunteer for SO during basic training at Recruit Training Center, at "A" school, or at any time during their enlistment prior to their 29th birthday. In-service recruiters (Dive Motivators) at RTC give presentations on the Navy's diver programs, conduct the physical training screening tests, and assist interested people with their applications.

    Sub-Specialties Available for This Rating: Navy Enlisted Classification Codes for SO

    Current Manning Levels for This Rating: CREO Listing

    Note: Advancement ( promotion ) opportunity and career progression are directly linked to a rating's manning level (i.e., personnel in undermanned ratings have greater promotion opportunity than those in overmanned ratings).

    Sea/Shore Rotation for This Rating

    • First Sea Tour: 60 months
    • First Shore Tour: 36 months
    • Second Sea Tour: 60 months
    • Second Shore Tour: 36 months
    • Third Sea Tour: 48 months
    • Third Shore Tour: 36 months
    • Fourth Sea Tour: 48 months
    • Forth Shore Tour: 48 months

    Note: Sea tours and shore tours for sailors that have completed four sea tours will be 36 months at sea followed by 36 months ashore until retirement.

    Note: The Naval Special Warfare community is a sea-intensive community. Due to the unique nature of the special warfare mission, sailors in the elite communities of Navy Special Warfare Operator (SO) and ​Naval Special Warfare Boat Operator (SB) should expect to serve back-to-back sea tours prior to assignment ashore. Sailors in these communities can expect their initial back-to-back sea tours to be within the same geographic location, contingent upon the needs of the Navy and NSW.​​

    Much of the above information courtesy of the Navy Personnel Command