How to Become an Army Guard Officer

Army ROTC cadets train at Clemson
U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets from Clemson University conduct an ‘actions on the objective’ lab on Bowman Field, Jan. 9, 2020. (Ken Scar/U.S. Army Cadet Command)

You can earn a commission in the U.S. Army National Guard through several programs: including affiliating directly from the Army, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a direct commission officer or Officer Candidate School. All require applicants to be high school graduates, pass a medical and physical exam, and be at least 17 years old.

U.S. Military Academy

The U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., offers bachelor of science degrees in engineering and liberal arts. Graduates earn a commission as a second lieutenant in the Army National Guard. Admission is very competitive. Appointments generally are made through nominations from U.S. senators and representatives. Applicants should begin their quest for entry into the academy no later than the middle of their junior year in high school.

Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps

ROTC is offered at more than 300 institutions and through agreements at more than 1,000 colleges and universities.

Consolidated and Federal Officer Candidate Schools

Consolidated OCS is an eight-week accelerated program. This program is nicknamed "Fast Track" by those who are familiar with it. This is a demanding program to meet the specific needs of the National Guard.

Federal Officer Candidate School is a 14-week course to train enlisted personnel, warrant officers and civilians with college degrees to be Army National Guard officers. Enlisted soldiers and warrant officers must have 90 semester credit-hours of college before applying. Civilian applicants must have a bachelor's degree. Officer Candidate School (OCS) now commissions almost 1,000 officers each year, a figure comparable to the academy's 900.

Direct appointment

The Army National Guard offers direct appointments for specialists from selected legal, medical, ministerial and technical fields. Professionals can even enter at advanced ranks based on the level of their expertise.

Warrant officers

An Army warrant officer is an officer appointed by warrant of the secretary of the Army, based on a sound level of technical and tactical competence. The warrant officer is a highly specialized expert and trainer who gains progressive levels of expertise and leadership by operating, maintaining, administering and managing the National Guard's equipment, support activities or technical systems.

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