Can You Switch Branches In The Military? Let’s Find Out

Can you change branches once you’ve signed up for a particular service branch? When Armed Forces members think about switching careers, they may consider changing to a different branch of service. This article will explore whether that option is feasible for military personnel.

Can You Switch Your MOS?

Every service member is assigned a MOS or military occupational specialty or rating. Your MOS isn’t permanent, so yes, you can switch to a different MOS. Following proper protocol if you want to change jobs during your military service period. However, changing one’s military specialty is not always guaranteed or possible.

The Army and Marine Corps refer to this change as reclassification or change of military operations specialty. The Navy calls this cross-rate, while the Air Force calls it retraining.

However, you should know that the US military expects its service members to stay in their first specialty for a couple of years. Why? The military expects some return on investment because it’s taken that service branch resources and time to train you.

It’s mandatory for you to request a transfer through your chain of command. The approval and application process would depend on your situation. Your request will most likely be approved if you’ve got a clean record and a good reputation.

Are You Allowed to Change Your Military Branch?

A soldier in full gear stands atop a rocky outcrop overlooking a winding river

While not very common, yes, inter-service transfer is possible. You must prove that while one branch doesn’t need you, the other service branch does. You must also qualify within specific criteria.

Once a person goes on active duty, they can’t simply transfer to another service branch. They must complete a Request for Conditional Release and finish their current enlistment contract. Then, they must leave the military and rejoin it as a prior service recruit.

How To Switch Your Military Branch?

If you’re firm in your decision to switch military branches, here are the proper steps you must take:

  1. Write a letter and complete a Conditional Release form. Write a letter explaining your intention and request for a Conditional Release. You’ll need to complete a DD368 Conditional Release form with a recruiter.
  2. Meet with your current supervisor. You should set up a meeting with your supervisor and express your intentions. You should forward them the letter and DD368 and keep a copy for yourself.
  3. Follow up. You may have to wait until you receive an approval or denial. If your unit says you can’t be released and will not accept the package, you should request a formal denial. Contact your base Inspector General or IG if it’s denied or they won’t submit the request. Please note that going through the IG should be your last resort.
  4. Meet with a recruiter. Once your DD368 has been approved and signed, take it to your desired service branch’s recruiter as soon as possible.

Increasing Your Chances to Make a Switch

A soldier in camouflage and a helmet looks intently ahead, with other soldiers in the background, and snowflakes visible in the air.

There’s no guarantee that you’d be accepted in an Army warrant officer program if you’re from the Air Force or other branches. However, you can increase your chances of switching service branches. A transfer is more likely if:

  • You’re re-enlisting. You can request a specialty reassignment upon enlisting. You’d agree to work in that position for a few years like your current active service obligation.
  • There are too many people in your current position. Moving to a different service or specialty might be a good idea if your current specialty is overstaffed.
  • Your desired specialty is understaffed. If the specialty you’re eyeing needs new staff, you’re more likely to be able to change jobs.
  • You’ve received more education or training. This would make you more valuable for certain positions.

Warning Against Recruiters That Offer Easy Transfers

Some recruiters might tell young recruits that they can serve in the Marine Corps or Air Force and then attend SEAL training after gaining experience. That isn’t a lie. However, you must complete your four-year enlistment before you can attend another school within another service.

Some schools have a joint charter with all services. However, SEAL training requires people in the Navy to attend SEAL training. You won’t receive an inter-service transfer in other services. Protocols are in place in the military, and you have to follow them to achieve your career goals.


Switching one’s branch or job in the military is challenging but possible. You need to research the requirements for your desired job if you intend to switch.


Is it easy to switch military branches?

No, it’s not easy. However, it’s possible if you follow the rules.

What is it called when you switch military branches?

This is called inter-service transfer.

Can you transfer to another branch of the military?

Yes, it’s possible, but it’s not easy.

Can you switch from Marines to the Army?

Yes, it’s possible, but you have to follow proper protocol.

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