Military Volunteer Service vs. Conscription Differences?


Hello, I was born in Taiwan and moved to the USA when I was three. I am currently enrolled as an undergraduate at a very prestigious university in New York City (uptown), and I will be applying to its 5 year Masters program to obtain a Masters in International Affairs.

The program counselor informed me that military service would help my application immensely. As such, I am considering taking some time off of school to serve in the Taiwanese military. This will help my future career aspirations in Taiwanese politics, as well. Three birds with one stone.

I`ve looked over the older threads, and I have some concerns:

  1. Is the volunteer service necessarily for a career in the military? Would I be able to volunteer and serve for say, four years and then return to school?

  2. A couple of older thread posters have mentioned that poor Chinese skills have caused them to be restricted from operating or even being near firearms at all. Why is this? I can speak Chinese perfectly fine (mainlanders think I have a Taiwanese accent, Taiwanese say I have an American accent), although my vocabulary is somewhat limited, and I can read and write at an upper elementary school / middle school level.

I grew up in a conservative state, and I love guns. I want to shoot, I want to participate in training exercises, I want an actual military experience, not just being a clerk.

  1. If I volunteer, can I choose what branch to join?



Volunteer service is mandatory if you have Taiwanese citizenship. Is it necessary for a career in the military? It probably doesn’t hurt. You can probably compare it to an employee that worked in the retail store wanting to apply for a position in the corporate office. Not necessary to first do the dirty work, but it doesn’t hurt to have it on your CV.

From what I hear, you’ll need to be able to read a fair amount of Chinese. Whether it would be the exam or if you put in an office environment as your post, most (if not all) things are in Chinese.

To my knowledge, no. Last time I checked, you are required to take a test (in full Chinese) to see where you will be posted. I hear they do take your skill sets and interest into consideration, but you still have to score well.

I had a friend who studied in the states before enrolling and he was assigned to teaching English in the southern countryside. Another friend had zero to no special skills (or interests), so his post was guarding one of the government building gates.


Thanks for your response ranlee.

I have a Taiwanese citizenship. I was under the impression that conscription is mandatory, and that volunteer service is separate. Am I mistaken? Is it the same thing?

I do not want a career in the military, I just wish to serve, gain some experience and connections, but also make the most of my time there.


Yes, I think you are correct.

However, if you are still under the age category of conscription, no point in volunteering because that draft will arrive in your mailing address after your Taiwan passport passes through immigration.

Most of the locals finish up school before enrolling. Personally, I would do the same. I don’t see how taking a gap year would make sense. You gotta move your life across the world for at least a year.

Also, I think you might be thinking, once your name is on the list for service, you start immediately. That’s usually not the case, but it can vary. My friend who did his service waited 8 months after “enrolling” until he started his service. Another friend graduated from school and started within the month. It’s all random, so it’s best to be prepared.


Is there really no benefit to volunteering over conscription? I would imagine that actually showing up and volunteering, since it shows that I am motivated and willing, would incur some benefits, one of which would be the ability to begin my service immediately.

I have dual citizenship, and have been to Taiwan multiple times with my American passport. I find it a rather roundabout way to enlist by showing up with my Taiwanese passport and waiting.

The reason I`d like to take a gap year is to strengthen my application towards my school’s five year Master’s program. With the program, I would spend one year towards obtaining my master’s instead of two. I would then spend a year (or four like in America, if possible) in the military, but I think serving would be necessary for a political career anyways, thus the three birds with one stone.


You might have to do a little more research on this. It’s right to assume this because you’re volunteering, but sometimes it’s not safe to bank off assumptions.

Yes, it’s very roundabout and ridiculously annoying. Everyone that has to enlist usually want to get it over with once they graduate from school or settle down in TW so they can get along with finding a job.

Unfortunately, I think I’ve given all the info I know. Try speaking to relatives in TW to get a further understanding. They can make calls for you or even give you first hand experience. Good luck!

Conscription and military branches and jobs

Thanks for your knowledge ranlee!


bump, does anyone else have any information?