Starting rank for direct entry officers

Many militaries have a direct entry program that allows civilians with certain levels of education and experience to receive commissions, skipping usual lengthy officer training. At what ranks do these direct entry officers usually start? For example, if some 40-year-old doctor, lawyer, or scientist joins the navy, would she be expected to work her way up from a lowly sub-lieutenant, or might she start off as a lieutenant or lieutenant commander (or even higher)? If they do start off at OF-1 (or the equivalent), would they have to follow the normal promotion process, or do they get fast-tracked?

A doctor in the RAMC (Royal Army Medical Corps) would do their officer training after qualifying as a doctor.

Many US Army medical doctors can enter as Captains (O3).

So far as I can tell, in the U.S. Army, doctors and lawyers start as captains.

I believe nurses as well enter as O3 (captain in USAF). I also think all have to go through Officer Training School, back in the day this was a 12 week course at Lackland for USAF. Learn things like how to salute, march, UCMJ and things military not normally taught at university.

It appears the maximum age to join can be waived for certain professions, like medical and legal …

Half right.

In the US system, doctors, lawyers, & chaplains enter as O-3s after attending a abbreviated specialilty officer training program. This is *not *the same thing as the OTS/OCS programs used to take 4-year college graduates into the ranks of ordinary officering.

See for a current discussion that’s veered into the same topic as this thread.

It’s not just for officers. Other specialty jobs (Pogues) can have service members enter at pay grades and ranks as high as E-6. See this article for an Air Force singer who entered as a tech sergeant (E-6).

The military (the Army at least) is also considering raising the allowable ranks of direct commission. I suppose that would be a Congressional decision. But there has been talk of allowing higher ranks for IT specialists and other highly skilled, highly needed technical jobs. The argument was something like recruiting Mark Zuckerburg to be a military hacker and how his valuable skills and experience would justify a rank of LTC or something like that. Read here

Yeah, I went in the USCG as an E-5. There was a shortage of 2nd Class Electronics Technicians and the ink hadn’t dried on my Associate’s of Electronics Engineering Technology. I don’t think prior service in the Army as an E-5 had anything to do with it. It was interesting going through CG boot camp while outranking the Asst Company Commander (an E-2).

Does this include people screaming at them to make beds and clean floors?

On the one hand, an MD isn’t going to be required to follow orders absolutely in a combat situation, so that isn’t what they’ll be trained for. On the other hand, they’re still entering into a military service, with all of the rank and discipline that entails, and the fact they’re entering as captains means there are many levels of officers above them who can expect them to obey their orders instantly. So how much psychological conditioning is done?

Well, instead of Drill Sergeants shouting “Drop and give me 20, Asshole!” at them, they have Drill Sergeants saying “Sir, I’d appreciate it if you’d drop and give me 20, SIR!”. Trust me, by the time any enlisted person makes NCO status, they can say “Sir” like it’s the worst swear word you’ve ever heard.

Remember, you’re not a Sir until *after *you graduate and the Drill Instructors (by whatever title) are finished with you.

US Navy OCS has a rather moving ceremony at graduation where the drill instructor transitions from being their personal leader, mentor, and tormentor for the last 3 months to being a senior NCO subordinate to all “his” shiny new ensigns.

The poignancy of the role reversal is lost on most civilians in attendance. But it hits pretty deep for both the participants and any other military in attendance, enlisted or officer.

The other services may have a similar sendoff. I only have first hand experience watching the USN ceremony.

Officer Cadets are still officers and are addressed as ‘Sir’.

As an aside, 80% of them are graduates and 10% are foreigners who pay the best part of £50k to take part.

But that’s not what direct commission officers experience at “salute school”, right? That’s for regular officer cadets who need Lou Gossett Jr. to scream at them for a while.

The point is, they’ve already been through the hazing from their various professions, and just need to learn which fork to use.

A quick google pointed me to something behind the CAC sign in wall that doesn’t work now that I’m a retiree. I’ll just throw out the “it depends” answer.

Captain was the usual rank earlier in my career for the special branch folks. Later I started seeing 1LTs pop up as new chaplains, doctors, etc.

A fair number of Army nurses receive their commission through ROTC. Along with receiving all the same pre-commissioning training as basic branch folks they commission as 2LTs.

There’s a program for the Army Reserve to get needed civilian acquired skills with direct commissions that can be in the basic branches. My last unit got an Engineer officer that way (she was recruited by a coworker at her civilian job who was Army Corps of Engineers.) She started as a 2LT.

The medical unit in my reserve center had a Major or Lieutenant Colonel with less than 1 year in service when we helped them with training in 2014. He was well past medical school with significant experience in a needed specialty IIRC.

Humorously (only in retrospect) a lot of the special branch folks tended to be more authoritarian and rigidly hierarchical than the typical basic branch officer IME. Missing out on pre-commissioning training and the experience of being a 2LT platoon leader seems to stunt a lot of them. Instead of learning how to lead, many try and rely on the formal power granted by their rank.

The Direct Commission officer-entry courses have been built up in the past couple of decades in the various services; they vary from 3 to 6 weeks depending on the service and the professional specialty. Your specialty, degrees, prior military service and practical experience factor into what will be your rank upon entering actual duty.

For instance for Navynurses it is a 5 week Officer Development School, and according to the regulation(PDF, see page 10-12) a table of “entry grade credits” based on the person’s level of education (advanced degrees), specialization and professional experience is used to determine rank at graduation by adding up to 7 year-equivalents of service time per that table. Lacking those extra credits the nurse is commissioned as ensign.

Army JAG attends the Direct Commission Course which is a 6-week abbreviated Basic Training including firearms training, then a 10-week branch-specific JAG-leadership course.

Army Medical Department DC officers attend a 10-14 week Basic Officer Leadership Course that combines a simplified-Basic with the initial branch-officer course.

I was a faculty member at the Air Force Senior Noncommissioned Officers’ Academy at Gunter AFS (an annex of Maxwell AFB, Alabama) during the time when direct-entry officers were trained in the other side of our building. The rank at which they entered varied during my time from first lieutenant (0-2) to full colonel (0-6). One gentleman I recall was a heart surgeon, very nice man who had to be gently guided repeatedly regarding the wear of the uniform, but who took it very cheerfully. We called the program ‘salute school,’ every one of the participants I had involvement with (which usually was simply chatting in our snack room) were very professional and willing to learn. Their program definitely did not include any yelling or screaming.

Yes, the Army Regulation for direct commissioning supports initial assignment at up to full Colonel (O6) but this is obviously not used very often. It would not be for a new doctor coming in, who would start at Captain (O3), but for if some reason the Army pulled in, say, a senior doctor running an entire section at a big civilian hospital or something, to run a similar large program. Same as for a Lawyer, if they brought in a very senior, manager/admin type lawyer to run a military program, they might make him a Colonel to start out. The vast majority of medical, legal, and other non-line officers brought in are new graduates and start at the common rank folks have already mentioned.