Officer candidate

Last updated

Officer candidate or officer aspirant (OA) is a rank in some militaries of the world that is an appointed position while a person is in training to become an officer. More often than not, an officer candidate was a civilian who applied to join the military directly as an officer. Officer candidates are, therefore, not considered of the same status as enlisted personnel.


In several NATO countries, the term officer designate (OF-D) is used. In the NATO rank scale, it comes below the grade of OF-1 and above the grade of Student Officer. [1] Ranks designated as OF-D include dokimos efedros axiomatikos in the Hellenic Army, and chuẩn úy ("officer designate") in the Vietnam People's Army. In the German Armed Forces, officer designates are enlisted personnel and have a corresponding rank code.


In the Finnish Defence Forces, officer candidate is an NCO rank, comparable to sergeant. Officer candidates are graduates of the Reserve Officer School, where they have been trained as officer students. At the end of their conscript service they are promoted to the rank of second lieutenant.


In the German Armed Forces, officer designates are enlisted personnel. Soldiers accepted for officer training are given the annotation (OA) for Offizieranwärter ("Officer Aspirant") to their rank. Then the designate progresses through the ranks of Fahnenjunker (OR-5), Fähnrich (OR-6) and Oberfähnrich (OR-7) in the German Army and German Air Force. Officer designates in the German Navy go through the corresponding ranks of Seekadett , Fähnrich zur See and Oberfähnrich zur See instead.

Officer designates in the army and air force wear the same uniform and insignia as the corresponding NCOs; added a silver metal tissue cord on their shoulder straps. A distinction to this is the insignia of the Oberfähnrich. His service and dress uniforms, including the shoulder straps, are sowed the silver piping, indicating the officer career instead of the NCO piping. However, his rank insignia on mounting loops for the field uniform are identical to the non-commissioned Hauptfeldwebel ; plus the cord of the officer designate.

The navy doesn't use a silver cord to indicate the officer designates; instead a golden nautical star is displayed. The rank insignia of Seekadett and Fähnrich zur See is the same as for the corresponding NCOs, but exchanges the anchor symbol with the nautical star. The rank insignia for Oberfähnrich zur See is lent to the Leutnant zur See , displaying the nautical star and a golden half-stripe — also on the field uniform.

1956 [2]
Bundeswehr Logo Heer with lettering.svg Bundeswehr Logo Luftwaffe with lettering.svg Bundeswehr Logo Marine with lettering.svg
Flag of Germany.svg HD H 21a Fahnenjunker FJg.svg HD H 31a Fahnrich Pi.svg DH154-Oberfahnrich.png LD B 21a Fahnenjunker.svg LD B 31a Fahnrich.svg LD B 33a Oberfahnrich.svg MDS 21a Seekadett Trp.svg MDJA 21a Seekadett Trp Lo.svg MDS 31a Fahnrich zur See Trp.svg MDJA 31a Fahnrich zur See Trp Lu.svg MDS 33a Oberfahnrich zur See Trp.svg MDJA 33a Oberfahnrich zur See Trp Lu.svg
HA OS5 21a Fahnenjunker PzGren.svg HA OS5 31a Fahnrich HLog.svg HA OS5 33a Oberfahnrich PzGren.svg LA OS5 21a Fahnenjunker.svg LA OS5 31a Fahnrich.svg LA OS5 33a Oberfahnrich.svg MA OG5 21a Seekadett.svg MA OG5 31a Fahnrich zur See.svg MA OG5 33a Oberfahnrich zur See.svg
Distinction Fahnenjunker Fähnrich Oberfähnrich FahnenjunkerFähnrichOberfähnrich Seekadett Fähnrich zur See Oberfähnrich zur See
Rank code (OR-5)(OR-6)(OR-7)(OR-5)(OR-6)(OR-7)(OR-5)(OR-6)(OR-7)


In the Indonesian National Armed Forces, an officer candidate (calon perwira) is one who wants to earn a commission as an officer in the armed forces.

Officers in the Indonesian National Armed Forces are commissioned through one of four major commissioning programs. Upon graduation the candidates are promoted to the rank of second lieutenant, thus becoming commissioned officers. The four programs are:


In the Philippines, an officer candidate ("OC") is a civilian who holds a baccalaureate degree and who wants to earn a commission as an officer in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Upon admission to the Officer Candidate School, officer candidates are appointed as probationary second lieutenants and probationary ensigns.

Cadet vs Officer Candidate

The words cadet and officer candidate are synonymous in referring the rank below second lieutenant. In the Philippines, officer candidates are referred to RESCOM, AFPOCS and PCGOBETC students who had baccalaureate degree, foreign service academies and reserve officer pools [3] undergoing 4 months to 1 year of rigorous military training. [4] [5] On the other hand, cadets are referred to students of military schools such as PMA, PNPA, PMMA, MAAP and ACP undergoing 4 years of military training while completing their college degree. [6]

United Kingdom

In the British Armed Forces, officer candidates (or potential officer candidates) are civilians or enlisted persons who apply to join the service as an officer. This does not infer rank or salutation. On joining the Armed Force, they then become designated as Officer Cadets.

United States

Officer candidate

U.S. Army

In the United States Army, officer candidates attend either the Federal Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, Georgia, or Army National Guard Regional Training Institutes (RTIs). RTIs follow the same curriculum and requirements as OCS and commission graduates who receive federal recognition into the Army National Guard. Soldiers who attend OCS are usually prior service enlisted personnel, though civilians with college degrees can enlist and go directly to OCS after basic training. [7] Additionally, Warrant Officer Candidates attend the Warrant Officer Candidate school and are also officer candidates.

With regard to rank, a U.S. Army officer candidate exists in a gray area. AR 600–20, Army Command Policy, places their rank as outranking all enlisted members of the service and rank directly below all officers. They are not yet officers. They are enlisted soldiers who lose all rank status when reporting to the course. Regardless of pay grade, traditionally, but technically incorrect, candidates are outranked by any course cadre or permanent party enlisted soldiers they may encounter. Although their status does not correspond to a position of authority within the standard U.S. Army ranks, candidates serve in leadership training roles at the platoon or company level. They are addressed as "candidate" by the OCS cadre. During the first few weeks of indoctrination, candidates are treated much the same as a new recruit. In the final weeks of training, OCS platoons may achieve "senior" status and senior officer candidates may be addressed as "Sir" or "Ma'am" by more junior candidates, but never by other enlisted ranks.

The pay grade for a U.S. Army officer candidate is E-5 (Federal OCS), or E-6 (state OCS) on the enlisted pay scale, unless the candidate previously achieved a higher enlisted rank. [8] For example, an E-7 who becomes a candidate would continue to receive E-7 pay. The OCS uniform is stripped of the rank patch which is replaced by the letters "OCS." Upon commissioning, a candidate becomes a second lieutenant.

U.S. Marine Corps

In the United States Marine Corps, officer candidates are trained by Marine officers and staff non-commissioned officer Marines at the Officer Candidates School in Quantico, Virginia.

U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy officer candidate insignia. US Navy OC shoulderboard.svg
U.S. Navy officer candidate insignia.

In the United States Navy, officer candidates are trained at either the Officer Candidate School or Officer Development School in Newport, Rhode Island. A parallel program known as Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS) at NAS Pensacola, Florida, previously produced officers slated to become naval aviators, naval flight officers, air intelligence officers and aircraft maintenance duty officers not otherwise procured via the U.S. Naval Academy or NROTC. A major distinction between the two programs was the use of enlisted Marine Corps drill instructors in the AOCS program, a vestige from the World War II and early 1950s period when AOCS graduates were given the option of being commissioned in the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps before proceeding to flight training. AOCS was disestablished in 1994 due to BRAC action and merged into the current OCS program in 1994.

Officer candidate is also the rank to which participants in the active duty commissioning program "Seaman to Admiral 21" are appointed. STA 21 officer candidates are appointed to the rank at the Naval Science Institute and go on to hold the rank while training with the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps at NROTC-affiliated universities. While attached to their colleges or universities, officer candidates are looked to as mentors to the midshipmen throughout the school year. They must maintain 2.0 GPAs, and are urged to assist midshipmen in developing their own leadership abilities.

STA 21 OCs maintain their enlisted pay grade and eligibility for enlisted advancement. The number of sailors selected each year to participate in the "Seaman to Admiral 21 program" varies from year to year. Fiscal year 2010 admitted about 200 candidates, FY11- 115, and FY12- about 75. Currently, the program has been downsized to only admit 50 candidates.

The rank of officer candidate is denoted by an officer's uniform with no insignia except for a line officer's star device on white and dress blue uniforms. If the candidate has never had prior service, rank is typically that of Officer Candidate Under Instruction Second Class (OCUI2). [9] On khaki and working blue uniforms, fouled anchors are worn on the collar points until candidate officer status is achieved, at which time OCs wear the bar insignia similar to their senior/midshipmen 1st class counterparts at the U.S. Naval Academy and in NROTC.

U.S. Coast Guard

In the United States Coast Guard, Officer Candidates (OC) are trained at the Officer Candidate School (OCS) located at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.

Officer trainee

U.S. Air Force

In the United States Air Force, officer candidates are known as Officer Trainees (OT) and are trained at the Officer Training School (OTS) at Maxwell AFB, Alabama.

Similar to the Army officer candidates, Air Force officer trainees exist in a gray zone with regard to rank, and their status does not directly correspond to a position of seniority or authority within the standard Air Force ranks. Typically, they are referred to or addressed as "OT," and during the first few weeks of indoctrination, are treated much the same as a new recruit. The pay for an officer trainee, however, is equal to an E-5 on the enlisted pay scale, unless the candidate previously achieved a higher enlisted rank than E-5, e.g., an E-7 who becomes a candidate would continue to receive E-7 pay, and so on. Once commissioned, the new officer advances to the pay rate of O-1, unless they have at least four years of active duty service, in which case they are paid the higher O-1E rate in recognition of the prior enlisted service. Such pay continues at promotion to the next two grades ("O-2E" and "O-3E"), but is discontinued at the grade of O-4.

OT rank insignia loosely parallels that of Air Force ROTC and United States Air Force Academy Cadet Insignia, except in the case of the directly commissioned chaplains, lawyers, and medical personnel.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Military rank</span> Element of hierarchy in armed forces

Military ranks are a system of hierarchical relationships, within armed forces, police, intelligence agencies or other institutions organized along military lines. The military rank system defines dominance, authority, and responsibility in a military hierarchy. It incorporates the principles of exercising power and authority into the military chain of command—the succession of commanders superior to subordinates through which command is exercised. The military chain of command constructs an important component for organized collective action.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Non-commissioned officer</span>

A non-commissioned officer (NCO) is a military officer who has not pursued a commission. Non-commissioned officers usually earn their position of authority by promotion through the enlisted ranks. In contrast, commissioned officers usually enter directly from a military academy, officer candidate school (OCS), or officer training school (OTS) after receiving a post-secondary degree.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sergeant</span> Military rank

Sergeant is a rank in many uniformed organizations, principally military and policing forces. The alternative spelling, serjeant, is used in The Rifles and other units that draw their heritage from the British light infantry. Its origin is the Latin serviens, 'one who serves', through the French term sergeant.

An officer candidate school (OCS) is a military school which trains civilians and enlisted personnel in order for them to gain a commission as officers in the armed forces of a country. How OCS is run differs between countries and services. Typically, officer candidates have already attained post-secondary education, and sometimes a bachelor's degree, and undergo a short duration of training which focuses primarily on military skills and leadership. This is in contrast with a military academy which includes academic instruction leading to a bachelor's degree.

In the United States Navy, officers have various ranks. Equivalency between services is by pay grade. United States Navy commissioned officer ranks have two distinct sets of rank insignia: On dress uniform a series of stripes similar to Commonwealth naval ranks are worn; on service khaki, working uniforms, and special uniform situations, the rank insignia are identical to the equivalent rank in the US Marine Corps.

Chief warrant officer is a military rank used by the United States Armed Forces, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Pakistan Air Force, the Israel Defense Forces, the South African National Defence Force, the Lebanese Armed Forces and, since 2012, the Singapore Armed Forces. In the United States Armed Forces, chief warrant officers are commissioned officers, not non-commissioned officers (NCOs) like in other NATO forces.

Officer Cadet is a rank held by military cadets during their training to become commissioned officers. In the United Kingdom, the rank is also used by members of University Royal Naval Units, University Officer Training Corps and University Air Squadron; however, these are not trainee officers with many not choosing a career in the armed forces.

Specialist is a military rank in some countries’ armed forces. Two branches of the United States Armed Forces use the rank. It is one of the four junior enlisted ranks in the United States Army, above private (PVT), private (PV2), and private first class and is equivalent in pay grade to corporal; in the United States Space Force, four grades of specialist comprise the four junior enlisted ranks below the rank of sergeant.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Officer Candidate School (United States Navy)</span> US Navy officer commissioning program based at Newport, RI

The United States Navy's Officer Candidate School provides initial training for officers of the line and select operational staff corps communities in the United States Navy. Along with United States Naval Academy (USNA) and Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC), OCS is one of three principal sources of new commissioned naval officers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Warrant officer (United States)</span> Ranks in the U.S. Armed Forces

In the United States Armed Forces, the ranks of warrant officer are rated as officers above all non-commissioned officers, candidates, cadets, and midshipmen, but subordinate to the lowest officer grade of O‑1. This application differs from the Commonwealth of Nations and other militaries, where warrant officers are the most senior of the other ranks, equivalent to the U.S. Armed Forces grades of E‑8 and E‑9.

Fähnrich zur See designates in the German Navy of the Bundeswehr a military person or member of the armed forces with the second highest Officer Aspirant rank. According to the salary class it is equivalent to the Portepeeunteroffizier ranks Bootsmann (Marine) and Feldwebel of Heer or Luftwaffe.

Seekadett is a military rank of the Bundeswehr and of former German-speaking naval forces.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Military ranks of Ukraine</span>

The military ranks of Ukraine were created in March 1992 after Ukraine adopted the law "About Universal Military Duty and Military Service". The rank structure of the Ukrainian Armed Forces originally corresponded to the generic military rank structure of the Soviet Union. Since then the rank system has been overhauled and, as of 2022, follows a NATO standardization.

A new law approved in July 2008 changed the military ranks of Venezuela, principally with regard to names, functions and commanding regulation of the armed forces. The law was sanctioned by Venezuela's National Assembly.

The rank insignia of the federal armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany indicate rank and branch of service in the German Army, German Air Force, or the German Navy.

The US Navy had four programs for the training of naval aviators.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Officer (armed forces)</span> Person in a position of authority

An officer is a person who holds a position of authority as a member of an armed force or uniformed service.

Oberfähnrich designates in the Heer of the Bundeswehr a military person or member of the armed forces with the last or highest Officer Aspirant rank. According to the salary class it is equivalent to the Portepeeunteroffizier ranks Hauptfeldwebel of Heer or Luftwaffe, and Hauptbootsmann of Marine.

The Military ranks and insignia of Chile are the military insignia used by the Chilean Armed Forces.


  1. "NATO official document" (PDF). Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  2. Langenscheidt´s Encyclopaedic Dictionary of the English and German language: "Der Große Muret-Sander", Part II German-English, Second Volume L–Z, 8th edition 1999, ISBN   3-468-01126-1; p. 1.381
  3. "PNoy thanks AFP-OCS, swipes at critics". Manila Standard. Retrieved 2020-07-03.
  4. Inquirer, Philippine Daily (2014-02-23). "No PMA clique in AFP, says chief of staff". Retrieved 2020-07-03.
  5. Romero, Alexis. "Noy attends non-PMA officers' graduation". Retrieved 2020-07-03.
  6. "ROTC infuses balance in PH military: prof". Retrieved 2020-07-03.
  7. " – Officer Candidate School". Archived from the original on 2007-04-04.
  8. Army Regulation 350-51 United States Army Officer Candidate School. June 11, 2001. Chapter 5-2. Retrieved February 9, 2011.
  9. "Pages - InfoViewPage.aspx". Archived from the original on 2020-08-06. Retrieved 2020-01-11.