Becoming a Naval officer

Commissioned officers generally enter the Military with a four-year college degree or greater, or receive officer training following tours of enlisted service. Officers are generally employed in management roles or highly specialized fields that require professional degrees (e.g., doctors, lawyers and chaplains). An officer’s education often determines which career he or she will have in the Military. In most cases, the candidate will meet with a military advisor or career counselor during college to select a potential job specialty.

An individual interested in serving as an officer has four options: Attend a Senior Military College or Academy, enroll at a traditional college or university with a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) after graduating from college or receive a direct commission after earning a professional degree.

Academies and Colleges

These highly competitive schools are virtually free of charge for those accepted. The government pays for each student’s tuition, room and board, uniform and books. Students are sometimes given a living stipend as well to help cover fees, a personal computer and other class supplies. In return, the student commits to serving as an officer for a set period after graduation, usually five years.

Service Academies

For students who would like to experience a military environment while getting a first-class education, the five Service academies — the U.S. Military Academy (Army) in West Point, N.Y.; the U.S. Naval Academy (Navy/Marine Corps) in Annapolis, Md.; the U.S. Air Force Academy (Air Force) in Colorado Springs, Colo.; the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (Coast Guard) in New London, Conn.; and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y. — offer an outstanding education and full four-year scholarships. Tuition, books, board and medical and dental care are all fully paid for all four years.

The competition to get in is fierce. Admissions criteria include:

  • High school academic performance
    • Standardized test scores (SAT or ACT)
    • Athletics and extracurricular activities
    • Leadership experience and community involvement
    • A congressional letter of recommendation (not required by the Coast Guard Academy)
  • Graduates of all four academies receive a Bachelor of Science degree and are commissioned as officers in their respective Service branch. In all cases, there is a service obligation of a minimum of five years.

    ROTC Programs

    Founded in 1916, ROTC stands for Reserve Officer Training Corps. It’s a college program offered at more than 1,000 colleges and universities across the United States that prepares young adults to become officers in the U.S. Military. In exchange for a paid college education and a guaranteed post-college career, cadets commit to serve in the Military after graduation. As detailed below, each Service branch has its own take on ROTC.


    As the largest single source of Navy officers, the Navy ROTC program plays an important role in preparing young adults for leadership and management positions in the increasingly technical Navy. Offered at more than 160 leading colleges and universities throughout the U.S., the Navy ROTC offers a mixture of military training and normal academic study. Courses take place both in the classroom and in the field. Upon completion, an NROTC graduate is awarded officer status and the ability to choose an officer career in surface warfare, naval aviation, submarine or special warfare.

    Aspiring Marine Corps officers also participate in Navy ROTC. The ROTC academic curriculum for a Marine Corps-option student requires classes in national security policy and the history of American military affairs, in addition to the regular academic requirements for the student's degree.


    Army ROTC is one of the most demanding and successful leadership programs in the country. The training a student receives in Army ROTC teaches leadership development, military skills and career training. Courses take place both in the classroom and in the field and are mixed with normal academic studies. Additional summer programs, such as Jump School, may also be attended. Upon completion, an Army ROTC graduate is awarded officer status in the Army.


    The Air Force ROTC mission is to produce leaders for the Air Force and build better citizens for America. Headquartered in Montgomery, Ala., the Air Force ROTC commands 145 units at college and university campuses throughout the United States.

    Air Force ROTC offers a four-year program and a three-year program, both based on Air Force requirements and led by active-duty Air Force officers. Courses are a mix of normal college classes and Air Force ROTC curriculum, which covers everything from leadership studies to combat technique. Upon completion, a student enters the Air Force as an officer.

    US Navy Military Pay Chart

    Enlisted Pay

    In the Navy and other branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, pay is dependent upon rank (known as rate forEnlisted personnel in the Navy) and years of service (see the chart below). Promotions depend on performance and years of service, and an Enlisted Sailor has to earn an increase in rate. In general, you will be eligible for advancement from E-1 to E-2 after nine months, from E-2 to E-3 after another nine months and from E-3 to E-4 after a subsequent six months.

    This graph shows the monthly salary for each of the Enlisted ranks commonly reached in the first four years of service. This graph is based on the pay scale effective January 1, 2015.

    Numbers shown are monthly pretax earnings and do NOT include the value of housing or other allowances or benefits.

    Taxes can vary; you will be taxed at the rate of your official state of residence, and some states offer special tax rates to military personnel. Housing and food allowances are not taxed.

    In certain circumstances, promotions up to E-3 can come faster. One way to accelerate your Navy career is to get others to join. If you refer friends or other acquaintances to join the Navy, you can be eligible for advancement up to E-3.

    Officers Pay

    Officer salaries are based on rank and years of service. The monthly pay for an Ensign (O-1) upon receiving commission is $2,934.30 plus allowances and benefits. This graph shows the monthly salary for typical Officers based on rank and years of service.

    When considering salary, be sure to take into account the value of housing and other allowances – plus outstanding Navy health-care benefits – which adds thousands of dollars to the value of your compensation. In addition, Congress generally authorizes a military pay raise every year to reflect cost-of-living increases.

    (The link down below has more information on this topic)

    Comment Stream