Ways to Become an Officer

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Colorado Guard leadership emblemCommissioned Officers in all of the National Guard's career fields hold positions of tremendous authority. They are proven leaders, willing to accept challenges, make important decisions and take on great responsibility.

Army Commissioned Officers are members of a unique fellowship that has spanned the history of our nation. From General George Washington and General Ulysses Grant to General Dwight Eisenhower and General David Petraeus, Army Commissioned Officers strive to complete every mission with dedication and excellence. They are entrusted with serving as a model of the Army values as they perform their leadership duties. They serve our nation with dignity and devotion. Commissioned Officers are responsible for completing demanding missions while ensuring the welfare, morale, and professional development of the Soldiers entrusted to them. 

Commissioned Officers begin their Army service as young leaders, providing a blend of valuable skills and knowledge. With their self-discipline, motivation, confidence, and judgment, they use their problem solving skills to determine solutions and accomplish the mission. Having the strength to inspire strength in others is the hallmark of a Commissioned Officer. 

Officer ranks imageDIRECT COMMISSION

Direct commission is one of the ways to become an officer in the Army National Guard. In this method, a member of the chain of command nominates you for appointment as an officer. Typically, those recommended for direct commission are people with specialized professional skills or personal qualities that would make them highly effective officers. For example, someone with expertise in medical, legal, ministerial or technical fields, possibly acquired in their civilian job, might qualify. You could also be nominated if you show outstanding leadership as an enlisted Soldier.


Army ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) is one of the best college classes you can ever take. It offers opportunities and challenges that really put you in the driver’s seat. By participating in the program, you’ll develop life skills and possess the confidence, motivation, self-esteem and leadership skills to be successful in any career.

The Army ROTC program is a college elective that consists of a combination of academic classes and important hands-on training that will allow you to become an Army National Guard lieutenant. It offers physical and mental challenges geared to help you succeed in college and beyond. More importantly, you will learn teamwork and be given responsibilities like mentoring younger cadets and helping them. In addition to on-campus training, you could be offered instruction in mountaineering, rappelling and orienteering. Participation in the college-level Army ROTC program takes just a few hours per week. So, it won’t interfere with other academic studies, sports or your social life. As a matter of fact, you’ll find the program is a great place to form lasting friendships.  There are 16 colleges in Colorado that offer ROTC.


Officer Candidate School (OCS) is where the officers are made in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies in Colorado Springs. It’s an intense leadership training course, and not everyone’s cut out for it. It’s physically and mentally challenging. But those who are accepted, and see it through, agree it’s one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives. OCS is a great way to enhance your leadership and management skills. Whether you’re a first-time Soldier or have prior military experience, OCS will transform you into an effective leader.


High school seniors and enlisted Soldiers can earn an appointment to the United States Military Academy (USMA) or the United States Military Academy Preparatory School (USMAPS) at West Point. Upon graduation, you will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army and serve for five years on Active Duty.

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