Earning a Commission
Earning a commission as an Army officer is not an easy task and it’s not one to be taken lightly. Even the newest commissioned officers are given a great deal of responsibility. After completing your time in ROTC, you’ll earn your commission and go to Basic Officer Leaders’ Course to receive training in your specific branch. When you arrive at your first unit, you’ll be assigned a platoon to lead. Depending on the branch, the Platoon Leader is in charge of 20-45 soldiers and will be responsible for their well-being and the accomplishment of the mission. This task puts immense responsibility on your shoulders as you may need to make life or death decisions for your soldiers, however, the skills learned through the experience of a commission officer are invaluable and will make you a prime candidate for any civilian job.
Your first steps after commissioning
After you have been assigned your branch and given a commission, you will be required to attend Basic Officer Leaders Course (BOLC). Each branch has a different duration of BOLC with some being as short as 12 weeks and others taking up to two years. Officers that have branched to the national guard or reserve will go to whatever unit they have chosen and will continue to train part time with them as a platoon leader. Officers that branched to active duty will go to their first duty station for 2 or 3 years where you will be a platoon leader for up to 2 years and may have the chance to become a company executive officer or work on staff.
18 months after commissioning (Guard or Reserves) or starting active duty, you will be promoted to first lieutenant and at 4 years beyond commissioning, you will be promotable to captain. Once reaching Captain, you will have the opportunity to attend Captain’s Career Course in your field and may even have the opportunity to change jobs. Additionally, new career opportunities will open up for most officers. New branches like Special Forces, Civil Affairs, Psychological Operations, and Electronic Warfare become available to you.
Most captains are afforded the opportunity to command a company of soldiers, totaling anywhere between 60 and 250 soldiers. This experience is quintessential to creating job and leadership skills that will be transferable to the civilian sector. Company commanders have a tremendous amount of responsibility for accomplishing missions, conducting routine tasks, and looking after soldiers’ well-being. Successful completion of company command will make any Army officer be a prime candidate for management positions in the civilian sector.
A company commander directs an AH-64 Apache helicopter onto its target during a training exercise.
Life after the Army
The Army offers a wide range of great retirement benefits. At 20-years of service, soldiers can retire with a full pension for life. This means the average ROTC graduate could retire at age 42. Additionally, reaching 20 years of service allows for access to a number of retired military discounts and retired military members will still have access to military installations to obtain tax-free goods and services.
Cornell university has a thriving veteran’s group that helps our prior-service military members find jobs and degree programs that are just right for them. Cornell’s MBA program is a popular destination for Army officer veterans.
Of course, not everybody wants to stay in the military for 20+ years. Luckily, the benefits of serving as a military officer are still incredibly high for people who leave the military with less than 20 years of service. Many companies actively seek out officers because of their military experience. Officers are trained to work well under high-stress situations, making them perfect for the fast-paced workforce. They are used to a regular and demanding workday, meaning they can be relied on to work hard and accomplish their tasks. Officers in some branches may receive technical training in systems that will allow for an easy transition to civilian or government contract work as this reduces training time and costs for the companies. Furthermore, all officers require a secret security clearance, and some officers require top secret security clearance. This makes officers very marketable to many government agencies, like the FBI or CIA, because it eliminates the costs of earning the security clearance. Lastly, officers are well-sought after in business because of the leadership experiences they have, making them perfect for higher level managerial positions.
Below is a link to a search of different companies that actively search for and hire junior military officers because of their military experiences and skills. Even if you don’t see a company in the search, you can rest assured that your military experiences will set you far apart from other job applicants in any field.
Companies with Junior Military Officer Programs
You’ll complete the Basic Course your first two years in college. Each semester, take one elective class, a leadership lab and physical training. What you learn—basic military skills and fundamentals of leadership—form the groundwork for becoming an Army leader. No military commitment necessary.
You’ll complete the Advanced Course your last two years in college. Each semester, take one elective class, a leadership lab and physical training, plus a summer leadership camp. What you learn—advanced military tactics and team organization, planning and decision-making—further develops you as an Army leader.
Both the completion of the Basic Course (or Leader’s Training Course) and a commitment
to serve as an U.S. Army Officer after you graduate.
Leadership and Personal Development
Discover the personal challenges and competencies critical for effective leadership in both the civilian and military environment, including critical thinking, goal setting, time management, physical fitness and stress management. 2 credits
Introduction to Tactical Leadership
Develop leadership fundamentals, including setting direction, solving problems, listening, presenting briefs, providing feedback, and writing effectively. Explore dimensions of leadership values, attributes, skills and actions through hands-on, interactive exercises. 2 credits
Sophomore Year: The Role of an Officer
Study applied leadership theory, communications, principles of war, military operations and tactics.
Innovative Team Leadership
Explore innovative tactical leadership strategies and styles by examining team dynamics and the two crucial theories that underlie modern leadership frameworks. Practice personal motivation and team-building through exercises and leadership labs. Study historical leaders from Lincoln, Grant and Lee to Gandhi, Kennedy and Mother Theresa. 3 credits
Foundations of Tactical Leadership
Examine team leadership in complex contemporary operating environments and gain greater self-awareness by assessing your own leadership style. Analyze recent and historical military case studies for teamwork in real-world scenarios, including the competitive and cross-cultural environments of most modern corporations. 3 credits
Junior Year: Leading Small Tactical Units
Study command and staff functions, law of war, weapons, team dynamics, peer leadership, military operations, tactics.
Adaptive Tactical Leadership
Study, practice and evaluate adaptive leadership skills across the full spectrum of military, corporate and civic operations. Receive and give feedback to your classmates with the goal of developing leadership skills and critical thinking. 3 credits
Leadership in Changing Environments
Experience increasingly intense situational leadership challenges to build awareness and skills in leading teams. Instructors review aspects of military operations to prepare students for the ROTC Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC). 3 credits
Senior Year: Transition to Becoming an Officer
Study training the force, military justice, ethical decision-making, personnel management, cultural awareness, post and installation support, military operations and tactics.
Developing Adaptive Leaders
Strengthen proficiency in planning, executing and assessing complex operations while functioning as a member of a staff and providing performance feedback to subordinates. Assess risk, make ethical and moral decisions, identify responsibilities of key staff members, coordinate staff roles as well as train and develop junior ROTC Cadets. Prepare yourself to transition to your initial leadership assignments through lessons on military and civil justice and personnel processes. Prerequisite: Adaptive Tactical Leadership. 3 credits
Leadership in a Complex World
Explore the dynamics of leading in the contemporary operating environment of the global village given differences in customs and courtesies, culture, military law, principles of war and rules of engagement for international terrorism. Case studies, scenarios, and exercises prepare you to face the complex ethical and practical demands of leading organizations to succeed in a global and complex world. Adaptive Tactical Leadership. 3 credits
Learn more about the Army ROTC curriculum.