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How Do I Become an Army Captain?

By C. Mitchell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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In order to become an army captain in nearly any of the world’s armies, you must first be commissioned as an officer, then be promoted, often more than once. A captain is a mid-range officer in most military ranking systems. Attaining this position is not usually easy, and generally requires both measurable job successes as well as mandatory time-in-grade.

Most armies are made up of two broad categories of soldiers: enlisted personnel and officers. Captains are almost always officers and are usually officers who have been serving for at least five years if not more. Officers are usually elite soldiers who are required to hold certain educational and training qualifications. The first step needed to become an army captain is to seek a commission as an army officer.

Officership is almost always considered a full-time army career. Different armies have different ways of recruiting and training officers, but there are usually at least three ways to enter the profession. First, you could apply to and be accepted into a national army officer training academy. In some countries, such as the United States, military academies accept university-level students, and serve the dual purpose of providing basic university education alongside military training. Countries like Britain host officer training schools on a post-graduate level, requiring cadets to have acquired a basic higher education independently.

National military academies are usually considered the most elite ways of becoming an army officer. It is usually also possible to seek a commission by participating in various localized army officer recruitment and training programs. Many of these are offered through universities and are targeted at current students. Like military academy cadets, these officer training students augment their studies with military training, albeit on a more distanced, individualized basis.

New recruits can also sometimes seek a direct commission as an army officer, which can then lead to becoming an army captain. Most armies are interested in recruiting intelligent, educated people into their officer corps, no matter their background. In countries that require military service, officership can often be attained by direct application along with a proven record of excellence in the field.

It is rare to become an army captain right off the bat. Usually, soldiers are commissioned as low-level officers, often lieutenants, at first. They must usually earn promotions several times over before they are elevated to the rank of captain.

Promotion criteria varies from place to place, and even from branch to branch. Usually, ascending through army ranks depends both on achievements and total time served. The achievement arm assess how well an officer has performed his or her assigned army duties, including the degree to which real leadership has been demonstrated. Time qualification is usually much less subjective, as it usually depends on minimum years of service.

In most cases, the best way to become an army captain once in the officer corps is to approach your army duties to the best of your ability each and every day. It can also be beneficial to discuss your promotion goals with your commanding officer. He or she may recommend tasks or jobs you can pick up that will help your chances of promotion, or at least bolster your personnel file.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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