When you consider the qualification badges on your Army uniform, which ones do you carry the most pride in?
You have ample reason to be proud of all Army qualification badges you have earned, but there are some which hold more power than others.
While not trying to lessen the importance of all qualification badges, I have used resources to determine the qualification badges that Army personnel hold in the highest regard.
Here are the top 20 Army qualification badges starting at #20 and working to #1.
#20: Expert Infantryman Badge
This badge was first established during World War II. It is only awarded to Army personnel who hold an infantry or special forces MOS and are able to pass the requirements.
- 80% or higher in all phases of the APFT.
- Complete day and night land navigation course.
- Expert qualifying on weapon.
- 12 mile foot march with 70 pounds of gear within 3 hours.
- Station testing with go or no go scoring. These include: first aid, boresighting, CBRN procedures, night vision, call for fire, weapons proficiency, movement under fire, map reading and communication.
#19: Master Aviation Badge
This badge is given to trained Army aircrew members. It became the Aviation Badge in 2000. The way Army personnel earn “Master” is by number of flight hours and time of service in the United States Army.
Generally, this badge is for enlisted personnel.
#18: Master Aviator Badge
This badge is reserved for pilots. So it is given to officers.
The Master Aviator Badge was instituted in 1957. To earn it, a pilot must have 2,000 flight hours and 15 years of service.
#17: Master Explosive Ordnance Disposal Badge
This is a joint badge that can be wore by any U.S. military service member who completes the 38-week course at the Naval School of Explosive Ordnance Disposal. Plus, to gain “master” status, the service member must have 7 to 15 years of service in a senior supervisory position.
#16: Distinguished Pistol Shot Badge
Those who are able to wear this badge must show magnificent pistol firing abilities.
#15: Distinguished Rifleman Badge
Only the best shooters can earn this badge.
#14: Master Diver Badge
The U.S. Army has 4 levels of diver’s badges with the Master Diver being the highest. Only the best divers can get this badge with the amount of dives and supervisory experience.
#13: Physical Fitness Badge
Established in 1986, this badge can only be worn on a soldier’s physical fitness uniform. Soldiers must excel in physical fitness standards to be awarded this cloth badge (patch).
#12: Master Parachutist Badge
Completing jump school at Fort Benning will get you a basic parachutist badge, but to obtain the Master Parachutist Badge, you must:
- Participate in a minimum of 65 jumps with at least 25 with combat equipment, 4 night jumps and 5 mass tactical jumps.
- Has served on jump status with an airborne unit for a total of 36 months.
#11: Master Military Freefall Parachutist Badge
Most generally, service members who have this badge are with special forces.
To get the basic Freefall Parachutist Badge, the soldier must attend and pass the Military Free-Fall Parachutist Course. There, the soldier will learn how to:
- Pack the RA-1 Military Free-Fall Advanced Ram-Air Parachute System main parachute and wear it
- Rigging and jumping procedures for weapons, combat equipment, night vision goggles and portable oxygen equipment
- Aircraft procedures
- Exit an aircraft from the door and ramp using dive and poised exit positions
- Emergency procedures and body stabilization
- High-altitude/low-opening (HALO) and high-altitude/high-opening (HAHO) parachute jumps
At that point, to obtain Master status, the personnel will have to attend the Military Free-Fall Jumpmaster Course where they will learn more detailed items the jumpmaster must know.
Other posts you may enjoy:
- Special Operations Diver Badges: What You Should Know
- Army Space Command: Top 15 Cool Facts
- Distinguished International Shooter Badge: An Overview
- The Army Flight Surgeon Badge: 8 Cool Facts
#10: Master Flight Surgeon Badge
To become a flight surgeon, the service member will be a commissioned officer who is a physician or physician’s assistant. They then have to complete the Army Flight Surgeon Primary Course at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
To get Master status, it is dependent on time served and flight hours.
#9: Air Assault Badge
It is not an easy badge to obtain!
Soldiers must complete Air Assault School and it is not a simple chore.
- Before acceptance, complete obstacle course and 2 mile run
- Day One: 6 mile march with a strict inspection
- Days Two through Five: Combat assault phase
- Days Five through Eight: Slingload operations phase
- and, Days Eight through 12: Rappelling phase
- Graduation Day: 12 mile foot march in under 3 hours
#8: Expert Field Medical Badge
This is a prized badge due to the fact that the pass rate is so low.
Test requirements are:
- Comprehensive Written Test
- M16 or M4 Weapons Qualification
- Land Navigation
- Forced Road March
- Current CPR certification
- Tactical Combat Casualty Care Tasks – 12
- Medical and Casualty Evacuation Tasks – 5
- Warrior Skills Tasks – 10
- Communications Tasks – 5
#7: Astronaut Badge
The only personnel who can wear this badge are officers who completed training and participate in a space flight at least 62 miles above the Earth.
#6: Pathfinder Badge
To be eligible for this badge, soldiers must successfully complete Army Pathfinder School at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Instruction is on advanced land navigation, advanced scouting, tactical air traffic control in the field, and the control of parachute operations.
#5: Combat Medical Badge
This is given to Army medical personnel who perform combat medical duties during engagement with enemy forces.
#4: Combat Infantryman Badge
This is awarded to infantryman and special forces soldiers who have fought in active ground combat.
#3: Combat Action Badge
Awarded to soldiers who have been actively involved in combat and are not eligible for the Combat Infantryman Badge.
#2: Ranger Tab
The Ranger Tab is given to any soldiers who are able to complete the 60+ days of Ranger School.
There is a great honor in being an Army Ranger.
#1: Special Forces Tab
Once you have earned this tab, you can wear it for life… You Earned It!
You must complete either the Special Forces Qualification Course, or the Special Forces Detachment Officer Qualification Course at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
As I see it, these are the top 20 Army qualification badges.
What are your thoughts? Which ones have you earned?
Please leave your questions and comments below. Thank you!
About The Author
Greg Boudonck is a full time freelance writer and the author of over 50 books. He served in the United States Army in the early 1980’s and enjoys writing about military subjects. You can see Greg’s books on Amazon by searching his name and you can also visit his website at Lancerlife.com.