Requirements to be an Army National Guard Officer

In today’s post, I would like to discuss the requirements to be an Army National Guard Officer, specifically a commissioned officer.  We will discuss the requirements and different ways to become an ARNG Officer.  Whether you decide to transition from enlisted to officer, or join as an Officer, there are few basic requirements that you must meet.

  1. You must be a U.S. Citizen
  2. You must have a four year Bachelor’s Degree (in some cases this can be waived)
  3. You must be commissioned before your 42nd birthday
  4. You must be morally and medically qualified
  5. You must have a GT score of 110 or higher on your ASVAB test

These really are the basics.

If you’re looking for a way to serve your country but have a limited amount of time available, the National Guard is probably the way to go. The Guard has job fields of similar to those in the Army (vehicle command, heavy or medium artillery like mortars, administrative, electronic and medical positions, even public relations) with less time commitment. It’s a patriotic part-time job. Pay is generally good, but varies by state and is usually supplanted with another job. The Guard gives out money for college, and there are potential re-enlistment bonuses as well. ~ The Princeton Review

Requirements to be an Army National Guard Officer

Commissioning Sources

There are several different ways to get commissioned.  For example, you could:

  • Attend West Point: Yes, West Point has a few slots each year for Army National Guard Officers.  Additionally, many graduates transfer to the ARNG after their 5 year Active Duty obligation.
  • Attend OCS: You can attend the full-time or part-time OCS program.  You can learn more about the OCS Program here.
  • Go through ROTC: This is how I got commissioned.  Many colleges have an accredited R.O.T.C. program.  In many cases, you can choose (before you accept the scholarship) whether you will go Active Duty or Army National Guard (or Reserves) after you graduate.
  • Direct Commission: This is typically reserved for specialty branches, such as veterinarians, dentists, and chaplains.  In essence, if you have a technical skill the Army wants, you can get a direct commission from a General Officer.
  • Military Junior College: There are five military junior colleges in the United States.  These include Valley Forge, Wentworth Military Academy, New Mexico Military Institute, Marion Military Institute and Georgia Military College.  With these five schools, you can get commissioned at the end of your sophomore year.  Wile you are completing your junior or senior year at a traditional college, you can serve in the Army National Guard or Army Reserves as a First Lieutenant.  By the time you graduate college, you can be a First Lieutenant.
  • Senior Military College: Similar to ROTC and West Point, these schools offer four year programs.  When you graduate, you will be a 2LT.  These schools include Virginia Military Institute, North Georgia College and State University, Texas A&M, The Citadel, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Norwich University.

As you can see, there are lots of options to choose from.  I’ve worked with high caliber Officers from every different commissioning source.  I truly believe that all of the sources offer a unique, quality commissioning experience.

You must meet certain National Guard requirements to become an officer. You need at least 90 college credits toward an accredited degree before you begin officer training. If you plan to be commissioned through Officer Candidate School, you must have a Bachelor’s degree. Officer Candidate School is one of four options to be commissioned as an officer in the Army National Guard. Officers can also choose to go through Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), attend and graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point or through a direct commission, which is a commission based on proven experience in a specific career field. ~ Chron.

Requirements to be an Army National Guard Officer

Additional Insights

I’ve proud to say that I spent 12 years as an Army Officer, with six of those years in the Army National Guard.  And I’ve even prouder that I started out as an enlisted soldier first.  I believe my enlisted experience helped be become a better officer.  What option you choose is up to you.

If you are thinking about becoming an Army Officer in the Army National Guard, you should contact the officer recruiter in your state.  If you don’t know who that person is, do an Internet search for the state G1 Office.  That office can put you in touch with the right person.  Sit down with the recruiter, ask questions, find out what your options are and go from there.  You are under no obligation to join right away (or at all), so you do your due diligence first.

Another good option is to sit down with a current Army National Guard Officer and pick their brain.  Or, if you are thinking about serving as an Active Duty Officer, find someone who is/has served as an Active Duty Officer and take them out to lunch so you can pick their brain.  Have them give you some additional insights as to the pros and cons of military service.  I think the additional perspectives will help you make an educated decision.

Final Thoughts

In summary, we’ve covered the requirements to be an Army National Guard Officer.  We’ve also discussed the different ways to get commissioned.  As you can see, there are many different paths you can take to become an Army Officer.  If you really want to become an Officer, you should spend some time and evaluate each commissioning source.  Find the pros and cons of each source and pick the one that is best for you, given your situation.

If you have any questions or comments, please post them below.

Other Must Read Articles
  1. Top 8 National Guard Careers
  2. Top 10 National Guard Bases in Florida
  3. Most Needed Army MOSs
  4. Army Human Resources Command (HRC) Overview
  5. Military Career Tips
chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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14 thoughts on “Requirements to be an Army National Guard Officer”

  1. Greetings sir!. What would be the best option to become an officer in the national guard for a 4 yr bachelors degree holder?.so far im waiting for my shipping date for bct and im 30 yrs old non us citizen. Thanks

  2. I had no idea that a 4 year degree was a requirement of those looking to join the National Guard… Interestingly, West Point is right across the river (the Hudson, to be exact) from where I live and I haven’t gotten the chance to visit yet. The local middle school from my town has a field trip there every year – something that definitely should be given in high school as well!

  3. It is, and always has been my stance that every officer should have to be an enlisted soldier first. I believe that officers that come from this usually turn out to be better officers in knowing what the enlisted soldier faces day by day. No offense to any of you who became officers without enlistment as a soldier, but this is, and always will be my opinion.

    I find that same makeup in day to day business too. Managers who never labored as a laborer usually do not lead as well as the ones who gained their position starting at the bottom.

    Great post with great information.

  4. It really amazes me how many ways there are to become an Officer. Quite honestly, I have to say that the steps I took to become an Officer were far easier than they were when I became an enlisted Soldier. I also believe that the Commissioning sources we have are pretty weak in truly preparing Officers for their jobs. In fact, many enlisted Soldiers can look at an Officer and point out exactly what their Commissioning source was (i.e. ROTC, OCS, etc.) and I think that speaks volumes as not all Commissioning sources are not producing the same product.

    1. Very true, however, there are good and bad officers from every commissioning source. Having enlisted time first normally helps, unless they were a low performing soldier to begin with. I think a lot of it boils down to maturity, attitude, and the desire to lead troops. I know I wasn’t very mature or responsible as a new 2LT. Fortunately, I grew up within a year or two after that (because of some good mentoring). I really think the biggest problem is that most young officers don’t know what they are supposed to do. They aren’t mentored properly by their peers and superiors. They aren’t counseled or given guidance. They are thrown to the wolves and expected to shine, all in just one weekend a month. This isn’t that big of a problem on Active Duty, but it sure is the ARNG.

    2. Candace Ginestar

      Justin, I’ve heard it said many a time that OCS produces a field leader, while ROTC produces a doctrine and paperwork leader. Obviously that isn’t all encompassing, and there are exceptions, but I generally find this to be true. When majority of your time is spent in the field at AOCS, of course you are going to be more comfortable making those decisions and in that environment.

  5. Katelyn Hensel

    Obtaining an officer position seems a bit daunting when looking at all of the requirements in order to be a commissioned officer. Then again, I’d want an officer with a strength and conviction to being a part of something bigger.

    You know, I didn’t realize that West Point had spots for Army National Guard. I also didn’t realize there were so many additional paths towards becoming an officer. I did however know that Texas A &M was a senior military college, my brother having been one of it’s recent graduates.

    1. Thanks for the comment.

      There are lots of requirements to be an Army Officer, whether Active Duty, Army Reserves or National Guard. But, I think that’s a good thing. You need intelligent, educated leaders to potentially lead troops in combat.


  6. Thank you for clearly providing the various pathways to become an Army Officer in the National Guard. I was not aware there were so many pathways. Is there one pathway that is more common than others? I like your recommendation of talking to current Army National Guard Officer. Their insight would be very valuable.

    1. I would probably guess that R.O.T.C. is the most popular way to get commissioned in the ARNG, followed by OCS, direct commission and military colleges.

      I’ve also found that a good percentage of Army National Guard Officers previously served as Active Duty Army Officers.

      Thanks for the comment.

  7. This is nice. I have never seen the various means of getting into the National Guard outlined so concisely before. My daughter has her eye on West Point (though she changes her mind when she wind changes direction), but isn’t sure she can pass the physical requirements. Nice to know that West Point has National Guard openings also.

    1. West Point is one of the finest schools in America and the tuition is free if you can get accepted. Of course, you would have a service obligation when you graduate. It is a great deal, but it’s not for everyone. The physical requirements “weed out” a lot of potential students, but that’s because the Army needs people who meet certain physical requirements. Thanks for the comment.

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