Careers & Jobs
Officership FAQ

What’s the difference between enlisted and Officer?

Enlisted Soldiers are the backbone of the Army. They have specific specialties within an Army unit. Officers act as managers to those Soldiers. They plan missions, give orders, and assign Soldiers to tasks.

What is the process to become an officer?

There are four paths to becoming an Officer:

Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) is a program in which undergraduate and graduate students enroll in elective leadership and military courses at colleges and universities in addition to the courses required for their degree. Enrollees receive a generous stipend and money toward books, tuition and more. At graduation, students are commissioned as U.S. Army Officers at the rank of Second Lieutenant.

Direct Commission provides leaders in professional fields such as law, medicine and religion the opportunity to become an Army Officer.

Officer Candidate School (OCS) is the main training ground for prospective Army Officers. Candidates must have completed a four-year college degree.

U.S. Military Academy at West Point is the oldest and most rigorous military training academy in the United States. Like ROTC, cadets earn a commission as a Second Lieutenant upon graduation.

What’s the difference between Active Duty and Army Reserve?

Active Duty is similar to working at a full-time job. The Army Reserve is more like a part-time job that enables you to keep your civilian career while you continue to train near home.

Can I be an officer and still live where I want?

Yes. If you are an Officer in the Army Reserve, you can commit to your country while you continue your civilian career at home. However, you should expect to spend one weekend a month and two weeks a year in training.

How long does it take to become an officer?

It depends on which path you choose. If you choose to become an Officer through the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) or the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, you will become an Officer after completing four years of college. Through Officer Candidate School (OCS), you are commissioned as an Army Second Lieutenant upon completion of the 12-week course, but you still must have earned a four-year degree from an accredited university. If you join through direct commission, you are automatically an Officer when you enter the Army, but your commission may still hinge upon other requirements. Talk to your local recruiter for more information.

What is the salary like?

Army Officer salaries are generally comparable with mid-to senior-level corporate executives. When you factor in the savings from Army housing, food allowance, tax advantages and health care, you come out ahead.

Do I need a college degree to become an officer?

Yes, the one basic requirement to becoming an Officer is that you must have a bachelor’s degree — not necessarily at the start of the process but by the time you are commissioned as an Officer.

What are the chances that I will be deployed?

It depends on the Army branch you choose and the unit to which you are assigned. However, Army missions and challenges are always changing, so there’s no way to know in advance which specialties and units are needed where. All Officers in the Army or Army Reserve component face the possibility of deployment at some point during their careers.

How long is the commitment?

The length of your commitment to the Army varies depending on the path you have chosen. Talk to your recruiter for more information on military service obligations.

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