Know What You Need to Do to Get Promoted in the Military

I’ve met Officers and NCOs in the Army who didn’t know what they needed to do to get promoted to the next rank.  With all of the information available on the internet today, I find that pretty sad.  As the saying goes, “no one cares as much about your career as you do.”  It’s up to you to know the requirements it takes to get promoted in the military.

Regardless of your rank, you should know the promotion requirements for the next two ranks.  You should know the minimum time in service and minimum time in grade requirements.  You should know which schools and which jobs you need to have.  You should know the promotion process, whether it is automatic promotion or your packet has to go before a board.

Fortunately for you, the Army makes it pretty simple.  They have regulations and policies that clearly outline the promotion requirements and process.  They have a schedule with upcoming promotion boards.  It’s your job to familiarize yourself with these regulations and policies so you know the requirements.  Don’t leave your promotion in someone else’s hands.

If you haven’t done so already, do a Google search or sit down with your S1 or Readiness NCO and find out the promotion requirements for your next rank.  Find out when the next board is.  Learn the EXACT requirements.

After you do that, do your backwards planning.  Make sure you write down what jobs you need, what schools you need, and how long you have to spend at that rank.  Come up with a game plan so that you can get promoted on time.

It really is that simple.

I’ve never met a successful NCO or Officer that wasn’t proactive in this area.  I’m never met anyone successful in the military who left this up to someone else to figure out.

The beauty is it only takes a few minutes to get this information and come up with a plan.  Once you do it, you have no excuse not to get promoted at minimum time in grade.

As a leader, you also have a responsibility to help educate your subordinates.  Teach them to be proactive about the promotion process, and show them where to find the pertinent regulations so they can get the information they need to map out their career and get promoted on time.  This would be a great counseling, OPD, or NCDOP topic.

What are your thoughts?  What do you think people should know about getting promoted in the military?  Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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2 thoughts on “Know What You Need to Do to Get Promoted in the Military”

  1. The military does have very clearly stated requirements for promotion, which I think can be interpreted as a blessing and a curse. While it is helpful in that it outlines what a soldier needs to do to achieve his or her next promotion, these requirements are the same for everyone at your level! So, unless you’re doing something extra, you’re exactly the same as the guys on your left and right. What is there to distinguish you from the rest? That’s when you need to take it upon yourself and do more than what the requirements ask of you.

  2. The first thing to know about promotion is the basics: Time in service, time in grade, what schools are mandatory. These are the essentials. Obviously doing your job and being the best in whatever position you're in goes without saying.

    Now beyond the basic things you should research what your next promotions will entail. Look at your fellow troops who have been promoted and see what they brought to the table. If it's a board you can help yourself by being put in for decorations, doing non-mandatory military classes, getting a degree or progressing further in your higher education. This of course with just being a sharp troop.

    In this day in age education cannot be minimized. An NCO with a bachelors degree will trump an NCO standing next to him with just his military required courses every single day.

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