How To Become A United States Naval Officer

Last Updated on June 27, 2022

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Are you looking for a job that will help you develop your skills, push you to take on leadership roles, and offer you an adrenaline rush in the process? 

You just found it. 

As a United States Naval Officer…

The Navy puts you in command of innovative technology while transporting you across the sea, through the air, below the ocean surface, and across land. 

You will oversee advanced technology—billions of dollars in surface ship, aircraft, and submarine equipment. More importantly, you will lead United States Navy Sailors.

Now, can you envision yourself as a Navy Officer?

Take on massive duties while your civilian peers are still figuring out how to get their professions started.

In a few short years, you can do more than most individuals can in a lifetime. 

But wait! What else is in it for you?

Good question. 

In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about becoming a Naval Officer.

We shall start with what you will get, then we will go straight into the details.

Summary of Benefits

From the start of your journey, your benefits will include:

  • Starting salary that competes with a mid-sized company
  • 30 days of earned paid vacation each year (plus virtually unlimited sick leave)
  • Tax-free allowance for housing and meals
  • Comprehensive medical and dental care (to include family coverage)
  • Thrift Savings Plan (like 401K)
  • Low-cost life insurance
  • Discounted shopping at military groceries and department stores
  • Retirement benefits when qualified
  • Continuation pays, bonuses, and regular promotions
  • Free tuition for advanced degree with monthly stipend (MGI Bill)

What is a Navy Officer?

The United States Navy employs the best and brightest men and women in the country.

Each Sailor and Naval Officer is a real professional in every meaning of the term, operating at the highest level in their daily lives.

A Navy Officer is a leader of United States Navy Sailors and is a technical expert in their own field.

Unrestricted Line Officer

Unrestricted Line Officers in the Navy can command ships, submarines, aircraft squadrons, fleets, and shore bases and have no restrictions on how they accomplish their duties. 

Surface Warfare Officers, Pilots, Navy Flight Officers, Aviation Support Officers, Submarine Officers, and Officers in Naval Special Warfare/Naval Special Operations are all included in this category. 

They are commissioned through Officer Candidate School, the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, or the Naval Academy.

Restricted Line Officer

Restricted Line Officers in the Navy are assigned to aviation, engineering, aerospace engineering, or special duty assignments. 

Aviation Maintenance Officers, Cryptographic Support Specialists, Intelligence, Automatic Data Processing, Public Affairs, and Oceanography are just a few of the jobs available. 

They are also commissioned through Officer Candidate School, the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, or the Naval Academy.

Staff Corps Officer

Staff Corps Officers in the Navy are physicians, nurses, chaplains, attorneys, civil engineers, and others are specialists in subjects that are professions in and of themselves. 

They are commissioned through the Officer Development School or the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps.

Limited-Duty Officer

Limited Duty Officers (LDOs) are previously enlisted sailors who have been commissioned as officers after receiving substantial training and experience in their respective fields.

They are only allowed to carry out their responsibilities within the confines of their respective profession.

Do you want a job that is not constrained by the confines of office routine?

The Navy has many job opportunities for you that can take you all over the world and back.

Here are some available Navy Officer Jobs:

You may also find a compiled list of age requirements here: Navy Officer Age Limit

Initial Training to Become a Navy Officer

While some people are born leaders, they must still learn the skills and knowledge required to lead.

Outstanding men and women develop their leadership abilities at Officer Candidate School (OCS) and Officer Development School (ODS), as well as the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) and the Naval Academy, to lay a solid foundation for a successful career as a Naval Officer.

Officer Candidate School

The 13-week Officer Candidate School (OCS) course at Naval Station Newport in Rhode Island provides you with a working understanding of the Navy (afloat and onshore).

It prepares you to undertake the responsibilities of a Naval Officer and begin developing you to your full potential. Both emotionally and physically, the training is highly hard. 

You will be commissioned as a Navy Officer after successfully completing OCS.

You will be taught leadership skills, receive physical and military training, and study academics relating to ship and submarine command during your training time.

Academics

In OCS, you will learn:

  • Naval Leadership
  • Naval Administration
  • Naval Organization
  • Sea Power
  • Military Law
  • Military Indoctrination
  • Naval Warfare
  • Damage Control
  • Seamanship
  • Division Officer Leadership
  • Special Emphasis Program

The Division Officer Leadership Course, which takes place over the last two weeks of the course, will also provide you with more extensive Navy-specific leadership training.

Physical Training

You must pass a second Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) with a Satisfactory-Medium score on your fourth week of training.

Running four days a week and strength and conditioning activities two days, a week will be part of the physical training. 

For the first four weeks, your run distance will be 1.5 miles, then three miles for the remaining eight weeks. All the running takes place on paved roads.

Please keep in mind that when reporting for OCS, it is helpful to be in top physical condition to avoid an initial struggle.

Officer Development School

Officer Development School (ODS) is a 5-week training program held at Naval Station Newport in Rhode Island. 

ODS educates officers who have already been commissioned and are pursuing professions in fields such as nuclear engineering, chaplaincy, oceanography, or health care.

ODS provides an intensive introduction to the responsibilities of Navy Staff Corps Officers to newly commissioned officers. 

They learn about the U.S. Navy’s military organization, its rich history of traditions and customs, leadership development, and military etiquette here.

In a nutshell, it teaches you everything you need to know to start a rewarding career as an officer. As well as the opportunity to make a difference in the world.

Academics

In ODS, you will learn:

  • Naval Leadership
  • Naval Administration
  • Naval Organization
  • Sea Power
  • Military Law
  • Military Indoctrination
  • Naval Warfare
  • Damage Control
  • Seamanship
  • Division Officer Leadership
  • Special Emphasis Program

The Division Officer Leadership Course, which takes place over the last two weeks of the course, will also provide you with more extensive Navy-specific leadership training.

Physical Training

You will take three Physical Readiness Tests (PRTs) while at ODS: In PRT, Mid PRT, and Out PRT.

Two to three days of strength and conditioning activities, such as push-ups, sit-ups, and other exercises, will be included in the weekly physical training.

Three to four times every week, you will run. Each run day for the first two weeks will be around 1.5 miles. You will run around three miles each run day during week three through week five. 

All the running takes place on paved roads.

Please keep in mind that when reporting for ODS, it is helpful to be in top physical condition to avoid an initial struggle.

The Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) aims to develop college students while instilling the Navy core values of honor, courage, and commitment morally, psychologically, and physically in them. 

The program prepares young men and women for leadership roles in the Navy and Marine Corps, which are becoming increasingly technical.

Over 160 schools and institutions offer the NROTC program. 

Selected applicants get full tuition and other financial perks at several of the country’s finest schools and institutions after a very competitive national selection procedure.

Academics

NROTC students get training in the following areas besides their regular school load:

  • Introduction to Naval Science
  • Sea Power and Maritime Affairs 
  • Leadership and Management
  • Navigation
  • Naval Ship Systems I (Engineering)
  • Evolution of Warfare
  • Naval Ship Systems II (Weapons Systems) • Naval Operations and Seamanship
  • Leadership and Ethics
  • Evolution of Amphibious Warfare
  • Senior Naval Science Seminar
  • Special Emphasis Program

Physical Training

NROTC students engage in frequent physical training sessions throughout their collegiate careers.

Another option for becoming a Navy officer is to attend the United States Naval Academy (USNA). Visit usna.edu for more information on this path.

Application Process to Become a Navy Officer

Here are the step-by-step procedures if you wish to apply to become a United States Naval Officer, along with various commissioning requirements:

Step 1: Determine your eligibility

You must first determine your eligibility to compete for a Navy Officer position.

The basic eligibility requirements for each Navy Officer program are:

Unrestricted Line

Restricted Line

Staff Corps

Step 2: Prepare your professional resume

If you have not prepared a current resume or curriculum vitae, it is best to start now. Once you contact your local recruiter, they will ask you for your current resume before you can apply for Navy Officer jobs.

Your local officer recruiter may even ask you for a resume that is signed and dated by hand.

With that being said, other successful applicants have used this free online resume builder to make their application look professional and well-prepared.

Step 3: Contact local officer recruiter

You then must contact your local officer recruiter. They will be able to provide you with the current Navy Officer job availability, and any other nuanced requirements for the upcoming Navy Officer selection boards.

The recruiter will ask you to provide basic identification documents as proof of eligibility (e.g., birth certificate, passport, social security card, etc.), along with your college transcripts and current resume.

Step 4: Take the required aptitude exam

Once the officer recruiter verifies your basic eligibility for Naval Officer programs, they will schedule you to take the Officer Aptitude Rating (OAR) exam – if you are applying for a general officer position.

If you are otherwise applying for an aviation job, such as Navy Pilot or Naval Flight Officer, the recruiter will schedule you to take the Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB) exam.

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Step 5: Complete Navy NASIS

Prior to commissioning, a National Agency Check, Local Check inquiry, or its equivalent must be completed.

The Navy Accessions Security Information System (NASIS) collects information from prospective Naval Officers to launch personal security investigations for all Navy personnel. 

To begin an inquiry, the information for a security clearance investigation is submitted to the Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS). 

NASIS is the Navy’s data collecting mechanism for security clearances, and it communicates with JPAS.

Prior to commissioning, all future Navy Officers must complete the SF-86 request for security clearance and have an open investigation. 

Your recruiter will provide you guidance on how to log-in to your NASIS account. You must complete this as accurately as possible.

Step 6: Complete Physical Exam at MEPS

Once you submit all medical paperwork to your officer recruiter, they will schedule you for your full physical exam at MEPS.

MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Stations) are joint-service facilities run by the Department of Defense that employ both military and civilian personnel who evaluate applicants based on their physical qualities, intelligence, and moral standards as defined by each branch of military service.

Hotel accommodation may be available for MEPS upon request.

Step 7: Acquire professional references

Navy Officer program applicants may gain endorsements from Senior Navy Officers or senior enlisted, whether active duty, reserve, or retired, to be included in the application.

It is recommended to include at least three but no more than five professional references in Navy Officer applications, so the selection board may have a broader third-person perspective of the applicant.

Step 8: Write a motivational statement

The Officer Selection Board receives complete information about you from the Application Processing and Summary Record (APSR).

Within the APSR form, there is space to write a motivational statement. You must ensure that your motivational statement fits within the allotted space in the APSR form.

Your motivational statement should answer the following questions:

  • Why do you want to be a Naval Officer?
  • What do you offer to the Navy?
  • Why should the selection board choose you?

Step 9: Complete application paperwork

At this point, your officer recruiter will present you with some paperwork that is required to be submitted with your Naval Officer program application.

Complete these forms accurately and promptly.

Once complete, your application for the Navy Officer program of your choice will be submitted to the specific officer community’s selection board.

Selection results typically are released 30 to 45 days after the Navy Officer selection board convening date.

Be diligent and avoid mistakes in your application. Your package is your only representation on the selection board, so bring your best foot forward.

Step 10: Start your training

  • If you have a college degree, attend either ODS or OCS.
  • If you are pursuing your degree, train concurrently with the NROTC.
  • If you have a college degree, and you are joining the Navy Reserve, attend ODS.

Get More Information

If you want more information about becoming a United States Naval Officer, the next logical step is to contact a Naval Officer Recruiter.

Let us figure out how you can benefit from becoming a Navy Officer—or if it is even the right career move for you.

You may also find more detailed information in our guide—Naval Officer Programs — where you will find the entry requirements and service time commitments (and much more information) for all the officer jobs in the U.S. Navy.

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