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Making of an Officer

Wondering exactly what it takes to become an Army Officer? CPT Nick Kolodziey, Assistant Professor of Military Science at Jacksonville State University, has the answers.

Wondering exactly what it takes to become an Army Officer? CPT Nick Kolodziey, Assistant Professor of Military Science at Jacksonville State University, has the answers.

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 and provide guidance, direction, and motivation to accomplish the mission and improve the organization.

What is the process to become an Officer? There are four paths to becoming an Officer:

A. 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. At graduation, students are commissioned as U.S. Army Officers at the rank of Second Lieutenant.

B. 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.

C. Officer Candidate School (OCS) is the main training ground for prospective Army Officers. Candidates must have completed a four-year college degree, meet initial entry requirements for enlistment, possess a 110 GT score on the ASVAB, attend Basic Training, and complete OCS.

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

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 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 enter the Army as an officer, but your commission may still hinge upon other requirements.

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.

Can I be an Officer and still live where I want? Yes. If you are an Officer in the Army Reserve or National Guard, 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.

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.

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