U.S. Navy Officer Qualifications

by Eric Strauss

Commissioned officers in the United States Navy may be leaders, commanding units or entire ships, or they may be specialists in a high-profile field such as Naval aviation. Becoming an officer in the Navy is not as simple as signing on the dotted line and shipping out. There are qualifications that must be met before a would-be officer earns his commission.


The main qualification for a Naval officer is that she must have a four-year bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. This can be earned -- but does not have to be -- through the U.S. Naval Academy or the Navy's Reserve Officer Training Corps, or ROTC, program. Degree-holders who volunteer for the Navy after graduation may qualify to attend Officer Candidate School, a 12-week program that trains them for their commission. Finally, select professionals with graduate degrees may qualify for the Direct Appointment Program, reflecting their advanced education.

First Steps

As part of the initial screening process, officer candidates must go through three steps common to all Navy recruits. These include passing a physical examination, taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test and going through a pre-enlistment interview process. Finally, a would-be officer must be willing to commit to a three- to five-year term of enlistment, or even longer for some military specialties such as aviation.

Physical Standards and Citizenship

Officers in the U.S. Navy must be between the ages of 19 and 35 at the time they sign up, with most being at least 21 due to the college education requirement. They also need to withstand the physical and mental rigors of officer training, in addition to passing the initial physical. Finally, they must be United States citizens, not merely permanent residents or legal aliens, as enlisted personnel may be.

Moral Standards

Navy officer candidates must meet a series of legal and character standards in order to be approved for a commission. This includes passing a drug and alcohol screening, criminal history and background check. The Navy may even scrutinize finances, including whether a candidate is a single parent or parent of multiple children, depending on the military specialty for which she is vying. Candidates who meet all of these requirements are on their way to earning an officer commission and duty assignment.

About the Author

Eric Strauss spent 12 years as a newspaper copy editor, eventually serving as a deputy business editor at "The Star-Ledger" in New Jersey before transitioning into academic communications. His byline has appeared in several newspapers and websites. Strauss holds a B.A. in creative writing/professional writing and recently earned an M.A. in English literature.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images