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Officer Candidate 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 is a civilian who has applied to join the military directly as an officer. Officer Candidates are, therefore, not considered the same status as enlisted personnel.


In Finland Officer Candidate is a NCO -rank of Finnish Defence Forces comparable to Corporal, usually officer candidates are conscripts chosen to Reserve Officer School course from NCO school -course, after 14 weeks training officer candidates are promoted to Officer Cadet and sent back to their original units as most senior conscript leaders comparable to Sergeant for last 5–6 months of their 12 months service, during which they gain experience needed in their war-time duties, which in infantry for example is usually position of a platoon leader. At the end of service Officer Cadets are promoted to rank of Second Lieutenant.

The PhilippinesEdit

In the Philippines, an Officer Candidate or OC is a term used to describe civilians and enlisted personnel who are baccalaureate degree holders who want to earn a commission as officer in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Upon admission to the Officer Candidate School, they are appointed as Probationary Second Lieutenants and Probationary Ensigns.

United StatesEdit


In the United States Army, Officer Candidates attend either the Federal Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, Georgia, or a state National Guard sponsored military academy that follows the same curriculum as the Army's Federal OCS. 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.[1]

With regard to rank, an Army Officer Candidate exists in a gray area, being neither enlisted, warrant officer, or commissioned officer when in officer candidate status. Although their status does not correspond to a position of authority within the standard Army ranks, candidates can serve in leadership training roles at the Platoon or Company level. Typically, they are referred to or addressed as "Candidate" by the OCS Cadre, and addressed as "Sir" or "Ma'am" by enlisted personnel. However, during the first few weeks of indoctrination, candidates are treated much the same as a new recruit.

The pay grade for an Army Officer Candidate is carried as that of an E-5 on the enlisted pay scale, unless the Candidate previously achieved a higher enlisted rank. For example, an E-7 who becomes a candidate would continue to receive E-7 pay. Upon commissioning, a candidate becomes a Second Lieutenant unless previous pay is more than a 2LT with same time in service, in which case the candidate would become a First Lieutenant.

Marine CorpsEdit

In the United States Marine Corps, Officer Candidates are trained by Staff Non-commissioned officer Marines at the Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia.


In the United States Navy, Officer Candidates are trained at the Officer Candidate 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. STA 21 OCs maintain their enlisted pay grade and eligibility for enlisted advancement. Approximately 200 sailors are selected each year to participate in the Seaman to Admiral 21 program.

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.

Air ForceEdit

In the United States Air Force, Officer Trainees (OT) are trained at the Officer Training School (OTS) at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. Uniquely, Officer Trainees are named 3rd Lieutenants for the short period between completion of officer training & presentation of Commission.

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.

Coast GuardEdit

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.

United KingdomEdit

In the United Kingdom Officer Candidate or Potential Officer Candidate is a term used in the British Armed Forces to describe civilians or enlisted persons who apply to join the service as an officer. Being a description, it does not infer rank or salutation.


External linksEdit

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