Army Officer Minimum Time in Grade Requirements

What are the minimum time in grade requirements for Army Officers?  And what should you know about it?  In today’s post I’d like to educate you on the minimum time in grade requirements for Army Officers.  This applies to Active Duty, Army Reserve and Army National Guard Officers.

These requirements are for FY 2012.  Please keep in mind that these requirements can change so check with your S1 or research the most current version of the regulation to find out if they have changed.

  • O1 (2LT) to O2 (1LT): The minimum time in grade is 18 months.  The maximum time in grade is 42 months.
  • O2 (1LT) to O3 (CPT): The minimum time in grade is 24 months.  The maximum time in grade is five years.
  • O3 (CPT) to O4 (MAJ): The minimum time in grade is four years.  The maximum time in grade is seven years.
  • O4 (MAJ) to O5 (LTC): The minimum time in grade is four years.  The maximum time in grade is seven years.
  • O5 (LTC) to O6 (COL): The minimum time in grade is three years.

On average, most officers hold a rank for about five to six years (especially in the Field Grade ranks).  In addition, just because you have reached the minimum time in grade requirements does not mean you will be promoted right away, especially after the rank of Captain.  For the most part, promotion to 1LT and CPT is automatic.  Promotions to MAJ and beyond are more selective and have a lower selection rate.

I’ve read that about 98% of all officers get promoted to 1LT, about 95% to CPT and then about 80% to MAJ and about 70% to LTC and less than 50% to COL.  I cannot VALIDATE these percentages, since I don’t have access to the actual figures.  These are just my best guesses from my own experience.

In addition to the minimum time in grade requirement, there is also a minimum time in service requirement.  In other words, you have to hold a rank for a certain amount of time AND you have to have a certain amount of time in service before you are eligible for promotion to the next rank.

In the Army National Guard, you still need to have an “open slot” to get promoted.  So, even if you meet the minimum time in grade and service requirements, and are selected for promotion by a DA Board, there is no guarantee of promotion. In the Active Duty Army and Army Reserve, you will be given a job for your new rank if you are selected for promotion.

The best reference I found online is AR 135-155.  This Army Regulation tells you the minimum time in grade requirements for each rank. It also explains your military education requirements, civilian education requirements, and time in service requirements for each Army Officer Rank.

Final Thoughts

The best thing you can do is educate yourself about the promotion requirements so you can position yourself for upward mobility and long-term career success. Make sure you stay on top of your military and civilian education requirements, do a good job in your duty position, take the tough jobs, keep your records in order, be proactive, and you should get promoted fairly quickly.

It’s really not rocket science.  Every officer I’ve ever met in my career who moved up through the ranks quickly was squared away, well networked, and actively managed their own career.  You should do the same thing.

What do you think?  Have these requirements changed much over the past few years?  If so, leave a comment below and let me know so I can update this post.  Thanks.

Also, if you have any questions, post them here and I will do my best to answer them for you.

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32 thoughts on “Army Officer Minimum Time in Grade Requirements”

  1. thanks for these great advice,skills and knowledge u are offering.its wise and immaterial to stagnant in one rank for quit sometime without promotion:what are mechanism put at place to make sure that all officers are treated the same on the side of promotions and awards.pliz reply

  2. I’ve got three boys who are in high school and looking toward the military as an option for their future. They are just beginning to understand the importance of planning. This will help them get a better understanding of the amount of time needed to reach certain goals. It’s funny how a 20-year-old thinks 3 – 5 years is FOREVER but for 40-somethings it’s like a drop in the hat. But I digress, knowing the parameters and hopeful expectations of promotion will help them set goals and direct the trajectory of their career – which is important to both military and civilians, don’t you think?

    I’m new here but, Chuck, I would love to see something about field promotions and how they work too. My husband was in the first Gulf War with the USAF. He went from Senior Airman to Sergeant in the field. Does that ever happen without war?

  3. Again I appreciate the input. (Buy the way the names have been changed to protect the innocent and not so innocent) One thing I would like everyone to know is we’ve had NCOs miss out on promotions for no other reason that their current passing PT score was not recorded properly in their file. Little things getting overlooked can really kill a career. I also realize that board proceedings are secret but it would certainly help if one could know that an admin error or similar was what derailed an otherwise promotable individual.We often joke around here that we wish the system that so efficiently mobilizes and deploys us even without the required time between deployments could promote us just as efficiently. Not once did they ask if we had a current PT test at the mob site.I will definitely make sure my board file is squared for my next round in March..including another DA photo with this deployments awards….but only after we get back from a family vacation..lol

    1. Tell me about it Randall. It’s frustrating when you get everything squared away but someone else messes up on your paperwork and keeps you from getting promoted. It doesn’t happen a lot, but when it does happen it would be very frustrating.

      1. Well Sir I’m back with another question. Does a BZ board count as a “Mandatory Promotion Board”? Prior to this deployment I was holding an O-4 position and my commander at the time was looking at a Position Vacancy Promotion prior to my selection for this deployment. The battle roster position I was placed in was a captain position however, and as such I wasn’t eligible for a PVP until I returned to an O-4 TPU postition post deployment. My current commander is again looking at placing me in an O-4 position and another look at a PVP. AR 135-155 states if non selected by a “mandatory board” I am no longer eligible for consideration for a PVP. Hence the need to know the definition of “Mandatory Promotion Board” in this context. I’m guessing I’ll be going the regular board route anyway but I would like clarify all options.

        Thanks

  4. I think it’s good to have minimum time in grade requirements. This keeps people from getting promoted too fast. After all, you want people with experience leading Soldiers.

    1. There are some who think the TIG requirements are too low, especially for enlisted. However, I think it depends how you spend that time. Some people probably need more, if they aren’t doing everything they are supposed to. Others charge ahead and take the bull by the horns.

  5. Good information, Chuck. I like that Army Officers have minimum time in grade requirements. This gives them some experience at each rank and makes sure they don’t get promoted too fast!

  6. This is a really great post. It clearly displays the Army Officer minimum time grade requirements. Understanding this table of data can help you better prepare for your career. It’s important to think long term. I agree that you should need to “Earn that brass.” You can’t promote people automatically just because they’ve been in a position long enough. It’s what you do that matters, not how long you’ve waited around.

    1. Chris,

      You do need to think long-term AND you need a game plan. Lots of officers play it safe and then expect to get promoted at minimum time in grade. To really do well, you have to be different than your peers. You need to complete your military education as quickly as possible, you need to take the tough jobs that no one else wants and you need to be good at what you do. Rarely, if ever, have I seen a “poor performing officer” get promoted at minimum time in grade. They save those opportunities for the studs. Just my two cents.
      Chuck

  7. I don’t think the time should matter, particularly a “maximum” amount of time spend in a position. A minimum I can understand. The higher ups need to know that you have been accurately prepared for a higher ranking. But maximum? Nope. If it takes someone twenty years to learn what they need to from a certain position and to advance, then it should take them twenty years. I don’t want someone getting promoted just because they’ve been in one position for too long. Thank you for sharing about this. It’s fascinating.

    1. The reason the Army has the maximum time in grade requirements is they don’t want the ranks to “bottle neck” with people who can’t get promoted and are sticking around just to collect a pension. I’m not sure if I would want to work for someone who has been at one rank forever, but never got promoted, and was just sticking it out to hit their 20 years. I can see the merits with both minimum and maximum time in grade requirements for Army Officers, but I do think the Army should relook its current policies.

      1. Recently I didn’t get picked up for Major in my Army Reserve Below the Zone board. As I understand it a BZ pass over doesn’t count against you. My In the Zone Board is March 2014. If I don’t get Major with that one, as I understand it, I’ll have one more look in spring 2015. However, most likely I’ll hit my maximum TIG (7 years) just prior to the convene date of the board in 2015. Will I be kicked out at that point prior to that 2015 look? I actually thought I had a pretty good chance this time around but I admit it was tough getting my board file ready while mobilized/deployed (I admit I didn’t expect to get looked at BZ until I got the HRC email while at the mob site. Yes I did write a letter to the board explaining the discrepencies, or so I thought. Thanks

        1. Sorry to hear you got passed over, BZ. I’m sure you will get picked up next time around. I’m assuming you had your command time and finished your CCC. I’m not sure about the maximum time in grade, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t be extended if you were pending board results Maybe another visitor can chime in here and provide some insight.

          1. Thanks for the information. I will be doing some checking with HRC in the the not too distant future when I return CONUS. Actually I was due a change of rater OER that covered the last part of my command time up until I went on mob status with another unit. Unfortunately my unit was tardy in getting it run through the wickets ( I was following from the mob site its progress or lack thereof) I finally got it for my signature the day before my board file closed. I signed and sent back to my S-1 to submit and 2 days later found out it was rejected for lacking my signature. Yes I double checked the email and the copy I returned WAS signed by me and it turns out the S-1 NCO submitted the wrong copy without my signature. They had over 90 days from the close out date of the OER and the board file closure so they had plenty of time. Needless to say I was not happy. Did it have a bearing on my case? I can’t say for sure. Sorry for the rant. Been a long deployment.

    2. The reasoning is, if you can’t progress within a certain amount of time, then something is wrong. The Army doesn’t expect you to know everything before you achieve the next rank; you thrive and grow as a leader when put in challenging positions before you think you are ready. When you get too comfortable where you are, it’s easy to get stagnant and passive.

      1. So true. I’ve known lots of people who were stagnant in their military career; both officers and NCOs. The way I see it, you are either moving forwards or backwards, but you never stay still.

  8. Thanks – this gives me a very clear idea of the grade requirements for Army Officers. I guess it varies a lot depending on the individual and on the number of open slots. You could be doing a great job, but just not have the openings, or maybe “get lucky” if a job comes open in your area. Still, it’s good to have a general idea of what to expect.

    1. It does vary a little bit. Most officers in the ARNG could get promoted minimum time in grade if they were proactive and managed their career effectively. Unfortunately, most officers don’t do that. And then they blame the system as the cause for them not getting promoted.

      1. This so true. Frustrating, but true. There was a woman who worked with my husband and, although she had less time in service than him and although she was disliked by many of the other soldiers and was the topic of controversy, she was extremely proactive about her career, went for promotions, and got them pretty much right at her minimum TIG. My husband, on the other hand, had to wait longer for his promotion and was passed over once because there were no open slots, even though he is well liked by 90% of the other soldiers, NCOs, and Army Officers. If you want it, do it.

        1. There are always cases where some people think someone undeserving got promoted too fast, or shouldn’t have been promoted at all. That is all very subjective. At the end of the day, each person has to manage their own career to the best of their ability and deal with the decisions/consequences/rewards.

  9. Army promotions are a tricky thing, as I have seen deserving people passed over for small reasons as well as undeserving people being promoted at the first opportunity. Though I completely agree that you need to take responsibility for you own career. In my experience, I would much prefer to serve with an officer who held more time than the minimum before receiving their promotions as they are more experienced in leading their soldiers effectively.

    1. I agree that some “good” Soldiers get overlooked for promotions, but in most cases it’s their own fault. You have to manage your own career effectively. No one else cares as much about your promotions as you do. You need to know the steps, you need to stay in shape, go to school and do what you can to get promoted. It’s not your supervisor’s job to get you promoted.

  10. “You can’t get there if you don’t know where you’re going.” Officer or enlisted, take ownership of your career, understand the system, and know what it takes to get promoted. Every single year for many, many years now I’ve listened to people vent their frustrations in April when the promotion lists come out, and more than once I’ve seen that frustration keep us from retaining a soldier. Yet frequently these same people don’t ensure that their documentation is complete and up-to-date to make certain they get every point they deserve. Sometimes it takes a little extra effort, too. On our last deployment (before the system for senior NCOs changed) I took the opportunity to complete enough online courses to max out the 75 points available for self-development. While that probably wasn’t the only factor, I made first sergeant the very first year I was eligible, so I’d say the extra work was worthwhile.

    1. Good point, Daniel. Every successful military and civilian leader I’ve ever met took responsibility for their own career. They were proactive and knew what had to be done in order to get promoted on or ahead of time.

      In the military, the “wise” Soldiers don’t wait until the last minute. They find out what needs to be done for their promotion packet and they get it done ahead of time. On the other hand, many “unsuccessful” soldiers complain that they can’t get promoted, yet they don’t do the things they should be doing such as max out the education, max the APFT, qualify with their weapon, attend school, etc.

      In life, you can either make excuses or you can make things happen, but you can’t do both.

  11. It is important to understand that these are the MINIMUM requirements to get promoted! Most people, as Michelle eluded, EXPECT a promotion because they have the minimum time in grade. I see no pride in that. Document your accomplishments every month, update your OER support form, continue to mentor, develop and work with our peers and superiors. EARN THAT BRASS!!!

    1. So true, Justin. We live in an entitlement driven society. It’s even in the military ranks. However, I’ve always believed that we aren’t entitled to anything. We have to EARN those promotions based off our merits and achievements, not just our time in the military. Tenure based promotions are very outdated. That’s one of the reasons most government organizations don’t function properly. Just because someone has “been around a while” doesn’t mean they are deserving of a promotion.

  12. This is very true. If you are in the military, you can’t expect to get promoted, you have to show that your worthy of it. Take the time required to understand all the requirements and work your way up the ranks!

    1. Good point, Michelle.

      One of the biggest issues I see in the military is that people want to get promoted too fast. They aren’t patient enough to get the experience they need to do their job right and learn the ropes.

      That’s why I am a big fan of having minimum time in grade requirements for all ranks.

      Chuck

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