Army Officer Promotions

Army Officer promotions are an important aspect of every Army Officer’s career.

After all, everyone wants to get promoted up through the ranks and have a satisfying and fulfilling career.

Please realize that it’s your job to manage your own career effectively.

It’s true, no one cares about your own career as much as you do, and that includes your promotions.

Don’t expect anyone else to work hard to help you get promoted.

That’s your job.

If you are counting on someone else to help you get that promotion, be prepared to be disappointed.

Getting promoted in the Army, National Guard or Army Reserve is not rocket science.

There are countless regulations identifying the requirements of Army Officer Promotions.

After all, it is mandated by law.

All you have to do is educate yourself.

Take out the regulations and determine the military education, time in service, and time in grade requirements for promotion to the next rank.

Find out what you need to do to succeed and come up with a game plan to make it happen.

Besides, just knowing what you have to do is more than half the battle to getting promoted.

What I’m going to do in the paragraphs below is share some simple tips you can follow to get promoted.

The tips are listed in no particular order.

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# 1) Take Tough Jobs:

Don’t be the Army Officer who always takes the easiest jobs.

Look for positions that will challenge you and help you grow as a leader.

Look for jobs that match your natural talents and abilities.

If possible, stay at the “troop” level as long as possible, and in the line units.

Don’t get stagnant and stay in one job for a long period of time either.

Find new jobs and diversify your experiences every 9 to 18 months.

Most importantly, whatever job you get, strive for excellence and make a difference.

# 2) Maintain Your Height/Weight and Physical Fitness:

Stay in shape.

Exercise on your own.

Always pass the Army Physical Fitness Test and height/weight requirements.

This sounds like common sense, but many Army Officers, especially in the ARNG and USAR, don’t meet the minimum physical fitness requirements.

If you struggle in this area, hire a personal trainer.

Do whatever it takes to maintain your fitness.

You don’t want to get passed over for a promotion (or for that good job) because you couldn’t pass the physical fitness test.

Also, you want to lead by example.

So, get in shape and stay in shape.

# 3) Finish Your Civilian and Military Education Requirements:

If you haven’t already finished your Bachelor’s degree, get it done.

You can’t make Captain without it.

Also, consider pursuing a Master’s degree as a way to separate yourself from your peers.

In terms of military education, complete your military education requirements for the next higher grade right now.

Don’t procrastinate.

Identify the military education requirements for the next higher rank and get enrolled in the course.

Murphy is always working against you.

If you wait until the last minute there’s a good chance something will come up and keep you from attending the school.

Never, ever miss a promotion because you don’t have the required education.

# 4) Keep Track of Your OERs:

Review your Officer Evaluation Reports at least once per year.  

Make sure they are done, current and updated in IPERMS.  

If you are missing any OERs, get the problem fixed ASAP.

When you are due an OER, communicate with your Rater and Senior Rater to get it done on time.

Also, make sure your OERs are profiled and filed into your IPERMS folder.

Another good OER tip is to keep track of your achievements each month and write up a quality OER Support Form.

This will make your Rater’s job easier and it will help you get an accurate, good OER.

# 5) Position Yourself for Success:

Always position yourself so you can get promoted as early as possible.

For instance, if you will be eligible for promotion to Major in six months from now, you should start looking for a Major slot immediately.

Don’t wait for the DA Promotion Board.

And don’t wait for your boss to find you a new job.

Strive to get vacancy promotions whenever possible.

Why spend an extra two or three years at your current rank when you don’t need to?

The bottom line is to be proactive, know when you are eligible for promotion, and seek out the jobs you want and need ahead of time.

# 6) Get an Additional Branch:

The ARNG and USAR are different than Active Duty.

On Active Duty you can have one branch and one career field your entire career, and move up through the ranks without much difficulty.

Your promotion boards and promotion dates are fairly predictable.

In the Army National Guard and Army Reserves, promotions work differently.

Even if you are selected for promotion by a DA Board, you still need to find a vacant slot before you can get promoted.

That’s why ARNG officers should consider having two or more branches.

For instance, if you are a Chemical Officer Captain, but there aren’t any Chemical Corps Major slots in your state, you won’t get promoted unless you get an additional branch or find a branch immaterial position.

Try to get one combat arms and one combat support/combat service support branch.

This will really help you out.

# 7) Network:

If you aren’t networking with other officers and NCOs in your state, you are a FOOL.

I’m not talking about kissing butt either.

I’m talking about forming strategic relationships with the decision makers and people of influence.

This is the process of meeting new people, building professional relationships, and showing others what you bring to the table.

Of course, you have to be good at what you do too.

But networking well is just as important when it comes to advancing your career.

Remember that people select/hire people they know, like and trust.

It’s just human nature.

Having a strong network will give you a slight edge over someone who doesn’t.

Here are some networking tips.

Final Thoughts

In summary, getting promoted in the Army, Army Reserve or Army National Guard is fairly easy to do if you have a game plan and follow the advice mentioned above.

The secret to success is to be proactive and actively manage your own career.

Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.

You can learn more about Army Officer Promotions in my Army Officer Guide.

If you have any Army Officer Promotion tips that you would like to share with the rest of our community, just leave a comment to this post to let us know.  

I look forward to hearing from you.  

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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12 thoughts on “Army Officer Promotions”

  1. I have to say the people I see get passed over for promotion usually realize too late in the game that they could have helped themselves. The obvious one is don't fail PT and maintain your weight. That goes without saying.
    The other reason I often see is stagnation. Staying in a unit, or a job, for far too long. You can become too comfortable and miss the opportunity for changing to another job. A year wasted early in your career can really come back to haunt you.

    1. I’ve never met a rock star who got passed over for promotion. It might happen once in a while, but not very often. You have to be proactive and make sure you have your schools done, you stay in shape, and you have your personnel records in good order. You also need to make sure you do the right jobs.

  2. I liked this post, as I can also apply most of it to civilian life (as I can most of your posts). I especially like the advice to take those tough jobs. As long as you can do them, and do them well, taking those tough jobs that others may shy away from really makes you stand out. It lets your superiors know that you are not afraid to work hard, to lead by example, and therefore, you are a team player that they can count on. This is a fantastic part of helping to manage your own career: make people take notice in a positive way.

    1. If you want to get promoted in the Army you should take some tough jobs. This shows that you don’t run from responsibility and that you can handle tough situations. The promotion boards really look at what jobs someone has and how they do in those jobs.

  3. Candace Ginestar

    Chuck, this is a fantastic article. EVERY officer should read this. If you work hard and have a good work ethic, you will naturally seek those challenges and take the tougher jobs. If you network, those tougher jobs may open up to you, along with promotions. Networking is by far the most important in an organization like the Guard. You will get far enough within your own unit if you work hard, but if you don’t network, nobody will know who you are after that.

      1. Candace Ginestar

        This is the truth. I don’t know why this gets neglected so often. I know not everyone likes talking to people, but we are in a people business and need to go outside our comfort zone if it is a problem.

  4. This article is full of great tips. Tip number one: don’t be lazy, take the tough jobs. It communicates already that you are serious about your military career and will be noticed by leadership, whether they say anything directly to you or not. The tips about finish your degree and pursuing your Master’s is also excellent. I appreciate the fact that the military really encourages soldiers to take the time to pursue higher education, and their benefits facilitate educational endeavors very well. If I were a soldier, I would use every benefit for education I had available.

    1. Candace Ginestar

      Amy, people who don’t use their education benefits baffle me. We earn them, we should use them! I haven’t had to pay out of pocket for my Master’s because of that. You really can’t beat it.

  5. So much of success in the military and in any job, really, is proactively managing your career. Think if it as part of your job. That means being aware of what opportunities will be coming up and how you can best position yourself. Being ready physically is also important. It’s easy to let this slide, especially if you are a part-timer.

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