How to Join the Military as an Officer

One question people ask is how to join the military as an officer. There are a variety of different ways and depending on if you have your degree or are looking to find a way for the military to pay for your education while training to become an officer in the military. There are a number of different options to explore.

But first, what are officers?

Officers are the leaders of the military. After completing your officer training, you become a Second Lieutenant. Once again there are exceptions where you come in at a higher rank. This is  common typically for doctors, lawyers, etc. A Second Lieutenant outranks all Enlisted members. Even though you don’t have the experience of the senior enlisted members you work with you will be the one they look to when it is time to make the final decision. As you increase in rank your responsibilities will grow. Senior Non-Commissioned Officers will always be there to help provide feedback and point you in the right direction.

Just like for enlisted members medical physicals are a requirement. Depending on what officer program you apply for multiple military physicals may be a requirement. If you plan to attend an Academy or participate in ROTC an initial physical is necessary to attend and a final physical is required prior to comissioning.

How to join the military as an officer

Each branch may have minor variations on how their training is done. I did my best to cover as much as I could, but things are always changing. This information is to help get you on the right path. It also includes resources to help you in your journey.

Are you considering joining the military? Have you signed up to join the military but still have questions? Check out my free guide to help you prepare for military life. Check out a girls guide to military life today. #militarywomen #joiningthemilitary #military

Military Academies

Each branch of the military has its own military academy. Selection to attend a military academy is a tough and competitive process. To apply to a military academy, you must be a US Citizen, have no dependents (not be married or have children). And be between 17 and under the age of 23 by July 1st of the year, you enter the academy. Along with these standards each military academy has its own physical fitness standards, academic standards, and medical health standards. Most students are encouraged to start the application process in their junior year of high school. You can start the process later as long as you meet the age restriction. Enlisted members are also able to apply to attend their service branch’s academy.

Congressional Nomination

The next critical step in the application process is getting a congressional nomination. Unless you are looking at the Coast Guard Academy. There a nomination is not a requirement. For all other academies a congressional nomination is a requirement. You can obtain a nomination from your local congressman or woman, one of your two state senators, or the Vice President of the United States. Each member of congress has its own system to apply. Reach out to your representative to find out the process they use. The Vice President is unrestricted by location so you can go to to find out how to apply.

Of the 15,000 people who applied to attend a service academy in recent years. Only 4,000 were able to secure a congressional nomination or service-connected nomination. Of those 4,000 only approximately 1,000 were selected to attend. Attending a military academy is a great honor and a challenge.

Learn more here.

Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC)

ROTC is meant to be a four-year program that you complete alongside your degree. In the first two years, you are learning the basics of the military and the history of your branch. You are also preparing for the summer training typically between your sophomore and junior year. Once you graduate from your summer training you become an upperclassman. One step closer to becoming an officer. In the last two years, you continue to learn how to be an officer.  Various topics like ethics, basics of military bases, and more are part of the training. You also prepare to graduate from college and commission. Then head off for your first military assignment.

ROTC has various scholarship opportunities. High School seniors can apply for a full-ride scholarship to various universities. You can also join ROTC with no military commitment, essentially try out military life (in a modified form) to see if it is a good fit and then compete for an ROTC scholarship. The ROTC scholarship covers various amounts of college tuition, books and gives cadets a monthly stipend that increases with rank.

Each ROTC program varies by school, branch, and location. But you will be required to complete physical fitness each week, pass a physical fitness test at least once a semester, take military classes, and participate in a weekly class for all cadets.

I gained my commission into the Air Force through ROTC. You can learn more about my experience here. Or if you are looking for general information about ROTC, click here.

Officer Candidate School

If you already have your degree there are still options for you to become a military officer. One of the most common is Officer Candidate School (OCS) in the Army. Each branch has its own name for this program. This program is open to civilians and enlisted members. You can learn more about OCS here.

Health Care, Legal, Ministry roles, and more.

If you are a doctor or lawyer or another specialized career field the military has various programs based on your specialty and the demand of your career field. You should reach out to the military branch recruiter to get information on the specialized program you would like to attend.

Looking for more resources about joining the military.

Check out the Women of the Military Podcast. There I interview women about their experience in the military. I also create specialized episodes just for women looking for more information about military service.

Check out:

7 Things I wish I would have known about joining the military

What Branch of the Military Should I Join

What MEPS is like

Are you interested in becoming an officer in the military? I talk about the three main ways to join the military as an officer and give you links to learn more. #military #officer #militaryofficer #jointhemilitary #militarylife

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.