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How to Become a Commissioned Officer

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Many people who would like to become a commissioned officer aren't sure how to. They might want the respect, the responsibility, the pay or the ability to travel all over the world. By becoming a commissioned officer, you can have these things. The commissioned officer has been heralded as leader throughout history, predating the Roman legions. Each military service has its own specific requirements for becoming a commissioned officer, but everyone must meet some basic requirements. According to US, "Earning a commission requires, at a minimum, a bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college. You must be a U.S. citizen, and meet physical, moral, and mental standards."

Attend a military service academy. The Air Force, Army, Coast Guard and Navy run their own academies. Marine Corps officers are commissioned at the Naval Academy. The Merchant Marine Academy is another option, but instead of a commission in the active duty military, graduates are commissioned into the Naval Reserve, which is the hardest avenue by which to become a commissioned officer, but it is potentially the most beneficial.

As a general rule, to attend one of the military academies, you must have a congressional nomination, which is sent to the respective military academy for final selection. Each congressperson has information regarding the nomination process. Once accepted to a military academy, you graduate after four years, when you receive a bachelor's degree and a military commission in either the active or reserve forces.

Attend a college that offers a Reserve Officers Training Course (ROTC). Select a college with an ROTC program affiliated with the branch of service you want to join. Then sign up for ROTC. Not only can successful completion of the program provide a reserve commission in the armed forces, but it can also help pay for your college. Prior service men and women can also receive up to $150,000 in bonus cash for completing select ROTC programs.

Attend Officer Candidates School (OCS). The U.S. Marine Corps OCS mission statement addresses all of the service's fidelities: "The mission of Officer Candidates School is to educate, train, evaluate, & screen officer candidates to ensure they possess the moral, intellectual, & physical qualities for commissioning, & the leadership potential to serve successfully as company grade officers in the Operating Forces." While serving as an enlisted soldier, you may apply for and complete OCS and become a commissioned officer. Check your respective service requirements. The Air Force refers to OCS as Officer Training School (OTS).

Attend military preparatory school. Each military service has a preparatory school that existing service members less than 21 years of age, who pass the rigorous entrance requirements, may attend to compete for attendance at a military academy. These preparatory schools do not require admission.