Generally speaking, commissioned officers are responsible for acting in staff support roles and command positions in more of a general leadership role. Warrant officers, however, focus on becoming experts in their career fields and do not take on high-level planning responsibilities like a commissioned officer does.
Whether you are a civilian exploring the various options regarding joining the Army, or a current service member looking to explore a new career path, the Warrant Officer program and career path is one that should be explored as it has various benefits. Here are my Top 10 Things About the Warrant Officer Program;
10. Entry Requirements: If you are looking for a position of leadership and being relied upon as a SME (subject matter expert) than nothing has the best of both worlds than the Warrant Officer. While Commissioned Officers require you to hold a bachelor’s degree, a Warrant Officer only requires a high school degree. This simple requirement could be a great benefit if you are a current Soldier who has not completed their degree, or a civilian who thinks that college is just not for them.
9. Receive the Same Respect as Commissioned Officers: Commissioned Officers are granted authority over subordinates through a presidential commission. Warrant officers, on the other hand, are appointed by their service upon entry into the Army and will gain a presidential commission upon promotion to Chief Warrant Officer-2 (W-2). To me, a Warrant Officer gets the best of both worlds with respect to their authority and respect within the ranks, but are not in a traditional leadership role like a commissioned officer is.
8. Pay: Even the lowest level of Warrant Officer (CW1) with less than two years’ experience still makes a very good paycheck with special pay for especially dangerous jobs such as aviator or parachutist. Looking at the 2013 Pay Scale, Warrant Officer pay is very close to that of Commissioned Officers within their same pay-grade level (i.e. CW1 <2 is similar pay to O-1 <2). Additionally, the pay jumps within each grade as your time in service increases are a bit higher than that of commissioned officers. Warrant Officers may also qualify for non-taxable housing and food allowances.
7. Less Political: Warrant Officers are highly specialized experts and trainers in their career fields. By gaining progressive levels of expertise and leadership, these leaders provide valuable guidance to commanders and organizations in their specialty. Warrant Officers remain single-specialty officers with career tracks that progress within their field, unlike their commissioned officer counterparts who focus on increased levels of command and staff duty positions. That being said, their careers are less political and competitive. To me, that is a huge perk of being a Warrant Officer.
6. Various Fields to Choose From: Upon entrance into the Army and completion of MOS training, interested Soldiers may compete for in-service Warrant Officer selection. There are 43 technical Warrant Officers specialties with 13 control branches that include Military Intelligence, Special Forces and Human Resources to name a few. Compare that to a commissioned officer who only has 25 branches to choose from. Also, getting the branch that you want is EXTREMELY difficult and highly competitive…you may get stuck as an officer in a branch that you do not even want!
5. Subject Matter Experts: As a commissioned officer, I would like to say that I am somewhat of an expert in my branch…but I know that is not true. Between the leadership training, cross training and other responsibilities I have, it is extremely difficult to become a SME in any one thing. We sort of have to be a jack of all trades, which may not be for everyone. As a Warrant Officer, you’re not only a military officer, but you’re also a subject matter expert in such fields as artillery, information systems, aviation, communications and electronics. Such skills make you a highly recognized leader in a particular specialty and gives you insurmountable prestige.
4. Enhanced Civilian Career Opportunities: After you leave the military, as a Veteran Warrant Officer, you’ll be even more marketable in your field than someone who never received the training you did. The Army spends a lot of money to train their Warrant Officers and the civilian sector knows this! Additionally, as a Warrant Officer there is a good chance that you can find full-time employment as an AGR Warrant Officer!
3. Army Benefits in General: As a Warrant Officer, you will entitled to the same benefits and perks as your commissioned officer and enlisted Soldiers! These benefits range from health to discounted shopping. Military benefits usually meet or exceed those of the private sector and include covered health care, survivor and death benefits, thrift savings and retirement for those who serve at least 20 years.
2. Being Highly Relied Upon: I don’t know about you, but to me an important aspect of any career is the feeling of importance and that you are needed. Let’s face it, there are many staff Officers and others that do a lot of work behind the scenes and are never recognized for their efforts. Warrant Officers, however, are highly relied upon by the commissioned officers and enlisted Soldiers of the unit for their guidance and training ability. What better career to have than to be relied upon by so many for your expertise?
1. Aviation: As a Warrant Officer, you can pilot aircraft, such as UH-60 Black Hawk, CH-47 Chinook, OH-58 Kiowa Warrior and AH-64A Apache helicopters, in combat, rescue and reconnaissance. Sure, you could be a pilot as a commissioned officer, but why go through all the front-end schooling and requirements to earn your commission when you can become a Warrant Officer? To me, being a pilot is the Number 1 benefit and perk of being a Warrant Officer.
The Army has a place for everyone. There are jobs which are for those only interested in being a Soldier to those which are designed for people with special skills. In order to train and guide those in the Army, there needs to be a specialized group of individuals with the ability to stay in one position for an extended period of time to hone their skills. This is the job of the Warrant Officer.
What about you? What do you think about serving as a Warrant Officer? If you have experience as a Warrant Officer, or have worked closely with one, what did you like or dislike? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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14 thoughts on “Top 10 Things About the Army Warrant Officer Program”
One thing that Justin mentioned….WOCS and OCS are almost the same length, so you wouldn’t have to do that much more to put your flight packet together (it is doable either way), so being a warrant isn’t the only way to fly. Depends on what your goals are with aviation!
True, but most Warrants get a lot more stick time than the commissioned officers.
That is right Chuck, as well they should!!!! I laugh when officers complain about not flying…they have many other duties, that they knew about ahead of time when they chose that path. I know it is hard to give up some of the fun, but Soldiers need officers looking out for them in every type of unit.
So true. Some Commanders and even Senior Commanders still get to fly, but not all that much. Once you hit senior CPT and beyond, you normally spend more time in staff oriented positions, than in the cockpit. That’s the trend I’ve noticed anyway.
Very good article. I did not realize until after I became a Warrant how great it would be. I am very proud of the rank and position.
I do need to clarify a couple of points in your article, however. With regards to having various fields to choose from and entry requirements: several specialties require you to be in a specific MOS for a few years and to have favorable NCOERs – oftentimes at least 3, before you can apply for a Warrant position in that MOS. USAREC is a great reference for requirements. Aviation and a few others have different requirements.
Also, recent changes now consider a WO1 a Commissioned Officer, due to so many who have been commanding units.
Thanks again for the article.
Thanks for the update, Kip!
The Warrant Officer program is the best kept secret in the Army. Being an NCO or Officer is good, but being a Warrant Officer is great. You don’t have all the politics and you are respected by both officers and enlisted alike.
I agree Melanie. I’ve never met a Warrant that didn’t like being a Warrant. I’ve met a lot of officers that wish they were Warrants.
Excellent post. Really great information for anyone considering becoming a Warrant Officer. There’s certainly something to be said for honing ones craft and it looks like there great benefits without the competition or politics. Definitely information that needs to be spread around. This article is a great resource for anyone considering becoming either a Commissioned Officer or a Warrant Officer.
Skipping the typical officer politics might be the best thing about the Warrant Officer program.
The Army Warrant Officer program really is the best kept secret in the Army. If I knew then what I knew now, I would have gone the Warrant Officer route rather than the Commissioned Officer route. All of the points you make are spot on. What I really like most about the program is the way that Warrant Officers treat each other. They look out for each other and try to help each other.
If you are interested in applying for Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS) I would highly recommend you get the book Surviving WOCS by CW4 (R) Jim Boroch. It can be found at GIPubs.com The link is:
The book goes into great detail about preparing your packet, preparing for school, and even has an indepth look at what to expect when you arrive at School. A very compelling read and a must have for anyone that is seriously considering attending WOCS.
Thanks for sharing this Warrant Officer School book with the rest of our community, Mark. I really appreciate it.
This is the best kept secret in the Army. I wish I was a Warrant Officer. They get treated much better than most company grade officers.