Videos: Today's Military
  • Officer Paths Overview(02:12)

    Watch the various ways to train to become a Military officer in our top-level video overview. For detailed information about training programs for each service branch, consult our pages on Service Academies & Military Colleges, ROTC, and Officer Candidate School.

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Narrator: When it comes to choosing a career in the Military, it’s important to know what sort of work fits your skills, interests and future goals. Officer careers typically involve leadership roles like planning and directing military operations, strategically working with enlisted service members or serving in specialized medical or legal roles. Officer careers require a college degree. They offer great responsibility and personal satisfaction for those who decide to pursue them. These are the ways to become an officer.

Service academies and Senior Military Colleges offer a four-year higher education experience while fully immersing students in military culture. Service academies offer full scholarships in return for a service commitment after graduation. Senior Military Colleges, while a similar experience, require students to serve after graduation only if they receive ROTC scholarships.

The Reserve Officer Training Corps, or ROTC, is a great way to see if the military lifestyle is the right fit for you during college. One weekend out of the month, students participate in ROTC training, a combination of field exercises and classroom education. The program offers selective scholarships if a student commits to serve after graduation.

Officer Candidate School, known as Officer Training School in the Air Force, is an officer program for recruits who have a four-year degree and did not do an ROTC program. It teaches leadership skills, military culture and physical training over a 10- to 17-week period.

Direct Commission Officers are civilians who have special skills needed for military operations. These are usually individuals who have earned professional degrees in fields such as medicine, law and religious studies. Because of their expertise, Direct Commission Officers may have different age and training requirements than the norm.

Whatever path you choose, becoming an officer will begin a career offering a rewarding mixture of thought and action — in which critical skills learned in the classroom are put to the test in the field. And it’s all toward the vital goal of protecting our country.