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Career as a U.S. Army Officer

Find out the skills needed for a career as a United States Army Officer

What they do:

Officers in the United States Army put their leadership skills, thirst for adventure and desire to serve their country to work.

Military officers are the leaders and managers of their military units at all levels. They are responsible for planning their unit’s operations and training. They also are responsible for the well-being of their soldiers and maintenance of millions of dollars of equipment.

From someone who knows:

“You’re training to be a junior manager,” says Lt. Col. Paul Hansen, assistant professor of military science for the Army ROTC program at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

“There are a thousand different jobs you can have,” says Capt. Walter Kent, who joined the Army more than 14 years ago as a way to earn money for college. “You know you’re doing something bigger than yourself.”

Your next step:

Here are three ways that you can become an Army officer.

  • ROTC The most common way to get officer training is through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), training that occurs as part of a normal college experience. As an Army ROTC cadet, you could qualify for a scholarship of up to $20,000 per year plus a monthly nontaxed stipend. After you graduate, you’ll be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army and accept immediate officer responsibilities. Your military commitment after commissioning is eight years.

  • Officer Candidate School If you decide to enlist as a soldier after pursuing your college degree instead of going through an ROTC program, you can apply for Officer Candidate School. There, you’ll undergo 14 weeks of intense training.

  • Military academy Students who are appointed to a United States Military Academy for college are commissioned as officers after graduation.

Vital Stats

A college degree combined with an Army ROTC program, Officer Candidate School or military academy completion.

Average salary:
A newly appointed second lieutenant earns $36,000 a year, not including bonuses and tax-free allowances. Salary increases with rank and time in service.

Random fact:
The Army partners with more than 1,800 community colleges and universities, allowing soldiers to earn a degree during or after their time in service.


Sponsored by Army National Guard

For more information on joining the Army National Guard, call 1-800-GO-GUARD and ask to speak to your local recruiter today. Serve your country, learn a skill, and earn money for college with a career in the military. There are several options for students who are considering a military service career: the National Guard, several branches and jobs to choose from, even officer training through an ROTC program or a military college.

The best way to find out which military career path is right for you is to talk to a military recruiter in your area. Remember, military careers aren't limited to being a soldier. There are opportunities for doctors, engineers, pilots, computer specialists, communications professionals and more!


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