What is a Commissioned Officer?

Commissioned OfficerIn historical times, a commissioned officer would often be part of the aristocratic class or own a significant amount of land. These officers would train the enlisted men, who were usually from the working classes and didn’t have the money to buy a commission or didn’t have the political connections necessary for the position. Today, officers in the military come from every different background and are meant to lead in the way that an executive might within the civilian realm.

Becoming an Officer

Officers usually enter the military having already obtained a bachelor’s degree. It’s helpful if the degree complements the field in which the officer wants to work, but a degree that matches a field exactly isn’t absolutely required. An officer’s most important role within the military is leadership, and the skills necessary to work as a leader may come from almost any type of college education.

One of the best routes to becoming a commissioned officer is through the various military academies around the country, like the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. These schools offer students one of the best educational experiences of any institution of higher learning in the country and they also provide an incredible springboard for becoming an officer.

For students who know they want to join the military and become an officer, it’s a good idea to find a school with a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program. The Department of Defense also recommends that recent graduates enter Officer Candidate School (OCS).

Duties of an Officer

The role of an officer is a challenging one, and not everyone has the right temperament to work as an officer in the military. In most circumstances, officers are responsible for leading around forty enlisted men and women. The army calls this group a platoon. Officers have an occupational specialty and may be a lawyer or pilot, but all officers are expected to be able to lead their platoon in any circumstances necessary.

Advancement requires that officers take charge of larger and larger groups of soldiers. For example, after an officer commands a platoon, he or she will then take control of a company. He or she may then be given command of a battalion. Over time, officers may move up the ranks all the way to a position that commands an entire base or a continent.

Deciding to Become an Officer

The idea of becoming a commissioned officer may be attractive to anyone considering a career in the military; however, success in the military doesn’t require officer status. Enlisted men and woman can achieve their educational and employment goals through regular enlistment. The armed forces offer some of the best opportunities to get a college degree through financial assistance and the support of the military branch in which someone has enlisted.

Experience as an officer is an attractive part of a resume, and officers who choose to enter civilian life after serving in the military will find their experience valuable for finding positions in management and at the executive level. A role as an officer in the military can also become a lifetime commitment and career goal for officers who thrive in their position and make their way up the chain of command.

Related Resource: Military History Degree

The work of a commissioned officer is challenging, and for the right person a career in the military may lead toward a lifetime of leadership, as well as opportunities in politics and eventual positions of leadership in civilian businesses.