Officers in the U.S. Army serve as leaders and problem solvers for their unit and specialists in their field. Officers may serve in almost any specialty within the Army including health care, special forces and communications. While officers receive military training including Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training to learn their job, Army officer positions may also require college education.
Non-commissioned officers hold the rank of corporal through sergeant major. Non-commissioned officers are enlisted soldiers and are not required to obtain a college degree. A high school diploma or GED is required for all non-commissioned officers.
Warrant officers are skilled specialists and trainers. While commissioned officers receive more leadership responsibilities as they are promoted, warrant officers demonstrate greater skill and expertise with promotion. Warrant officers may specialize in one of 43 available technical areas such as construction engineering or electronic systems maintenance or attend flight training and become an aviator. Warrant officers must have at least a high school diploma or GED but are not required to have a college degree. They are required to attend Basic Combat Training and Warrant Officer Candidate School to be commissioned as a warrant officer.
Commissioned officers hold the rank of Second Lieutenant and higher and must complete a bachelor's degree or higher in any field of study. Certain career paths require officers to possess a specific degree. For example, doctors must complete an M.D. degree; attorneys with the Army Judge Advocate General Corp must complete a J.D. degree; and chaplains must possess a graduate degree in theology or religious studies.
ROTC and Military Academy
Individuals who want to become commissioned officers but who do not yet have a bachelor's degree may take advantage of Army programs to obtain their degree. The Army Reserve Officer Training Corp provides college students with scholarships to cover tuition and expenses while completing their degree. Students complete military coursework in addition to their degree and attend military training in the summer. Alternatively, high school graduates may apply to West Point Military Academy. Upon graduation, both ROTC and West Point cadets are commissioned as Second Lieutenants.