Life sometimes gets in the way of completing a high school diploma. Rather than taking the time to complete a high school diploma, some opt to pass the General Educational Development test and obtain an equivalent diploma. Although a GED diploma is considered equivalent to a high school diploma by most employers and colleges, the U.S. military has a difference view. According to GED Testing Service, the Department of Defense uses a three-tier system to “select applicants with the greatest likelihood of completing their initial military service obligation.” Those with a high school diploma are considered the most desirable and are Tier 1 candidates. Those with a GED diploma are Tier 2 candidates. In all branches of the military, those who have completed 15 college credits in addition to a GED diploma are also considered Tier 1 candidates.

Army and Navy

In both Army and Navy, the GED diploma is accepted for Tier 2 status. Additionally, Tier 2 applicants must score 50 or higher on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, spend at least 90 days in a delayed entry program, or DEP, and complete the DEP Personal Qualification Standard program before shipping to Recruit Training Command.

Air Force

The Air Force accepts GED holders for Tier 2 status. GED holders must score at least 65 on the Armed Forces Qualification Test score portion of the ASVAB, which is 29 points higher than the score required of Tier 1 applicants. Additionally, Tier 2 recruits make up only one percent total of all recruits.

Coast Guard

As with the other branches of the armed services, the Coast Guard considers GED holders Tier 2 candidates. A score of at least 47 on the Armed Forces Qualification Test is required, which is eleven points higher than the score required of Tier 1 recruits. GED holders must obtain a waiver if they score below 45. In 2009, the average score for all recruits was 70.4. Only 50 GED holders per year can be admitted to the Coast Guard and only 25 were admitted in 2009.

Marine Corps

Ninety-five percent of Marine Corps enlistees are Tier 1, according to a mandate by the Commandant of the Marine Corps. That means up to five percent may be Tier 2. Unlike the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, a minimum ASVAB score is not required.