Officer candidate

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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. Usually officer candidates are chosen as conscripts, and along with officer cadets 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 (German: 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 army and air force. Officer designates in the 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 loots for the field uniform are identically 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 Fährnich zur See is the same as for the corresponding NCOs, but exchanges the anker symbol with the nautical star. The rank insignia for Oberfähnrich zur See is leaned to the Leutnant zur See, displaying the nautic star and a golden half-stripe - also on the field uniform.

Bundeswehr Logo Heer with lettering.svg Bundeswehr Logo Luftwaffe with lettering.svg German Navy
Flag of Germany.svg HD H 21a Fahnenjunker FJg.svg HD H 31a Fähnrich Pi.svg DH154-Oberfähnrich.png LD B 21a Fahnenjunker.svg LD B 31a Fähnrich.svg LD B 33a Oberfähnrich.svg MDS 21a Seekadett Trp.svg MDJA 21a Seekadett Trp Lo.svg MDS 31a Fähnrich zur See Trp.svg MDJA 31a Fähnrich zur See Trp Lu.svg MDS 33a Oberfähnrich zur See Trp.svg MDJA 33a Oberfähnrich zur See Trp Lu.svg
HA OS5 21a Fahnenjunker PzGren.svg HA OS5 31a Fähnrich HLog.svg HA OS5 33a Oberfähnrich PzGren.svg LA OS5 21a Fahnenjunker.svg LA OS5 31a Fähnrich.svg LA OS5 33a Oberfähnrich.svg MA OG5 21a Seekadett.svg MA OG5 31a Fähnrich zur See.svg MA OG5 33a Oberfähnrich zur See.svg
Distinction Fahnenjunker Fähnrich Oberfähnrich Fahnenjunker Fähnrich Oberfähnrich 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)

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The Philippines

In the Philippines, an officer candidate or OC is a civilian or enlisted personnel 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.

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.

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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, Federal military academies, or ROTC programs at a civilian university. (Regional Training Institutes) that follow the same curriculum and requirements. 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.[3]

With regard to rank, a U.S. Army officer candidate exists in a gray area. They are enlisted soldiers who lose all rank status when reporting to the course. Regardless of pay grade, 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.[4] 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

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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. 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.


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  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. - Officer Candidate School
  4. Army Regulation 350-51 United States Army Officer Candidate School. June 11, 2001. Chapter 5-2. Retrieved February 9, 2011.

External links