So You Want to be a Chief: The Ultimate Guide on Where to Start


So you want to be a Warrant Officer. Perfect, what have you done so far? Where's your packet? Do you qualify? Hmmm, Yea, I didn't think so. So, let's talk about all of the questions I've been asked in the last few weeks to help get you started. I'll start from the beginning and get you up to speed on everything you need to know. 

Today, we will discuss what a warrant officer is, the benefits of being one, the eligibility guidelines, choosing a specialty, and how to assemble your packet. If you need to know what happens after you get selected, you can review my blog, What to Expect after Selection. So let's begin.

What is a Warrant Officer?

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A Warrant Officer is a highly specialized expert and technical leader in the U.S. Army who possesses advanced skills and knowledge in a specific area of military operations. Warrant Officers are appointed by the Secretary of the Army and serve in various leadership positions across the Army, including in combat arms, combat support, and combat service support branches.


Warrant Officers are uniquely responsible for bridging the gap between enlisted personnel and commissioned officers. They are highly respected for their technical proficiency. They are often sought out by both enlisted soldiers and commissioned officers for guidance and expertise in their area of specialization.

The role of a Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army varies depending on their specialty. Still, they serve as technical experts and advisors to commanders and senior leaders. They may also lead teams and train soldiers in their areas of expertise. Warrant Officers are critical to the Army's success as they bring deep knowledge and experience to their roles. They are essential in ensuring the Army's readiness to meet the challenges of today's complex operational environments.

 

What are the benefits of becoming a Warrant Officer?

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Besides the super cool rank, many people can't recognize out of a lineup. You also have career advancement, specialized training, competitive pay and benefits, increased responsibility, job security, and an elite sense of security. So let's dissect this a little bit.

  • Career advancement: As a Warrant Officer, you can advance your career and take on leadership positions within your specialty. The Warrant Officer rank structure provides for promotion through the W-1 to W-5 ranks based on time in service, job performance, and other factors. Warrant Officer advancement rates are excellent from W2-W3 and become more competitive around W4. Realistically speaking, W5 is a waiting game. Often, your year grouping thins out, and it is easy to spot the best of the best.
  • Highly specialized training: Warrant Officers undergo rigorous technical training and education in their area of expertise, which makes them highly sought after for their knowledge and skills. Orrrr, they come with that zest and that vigor that makes it soooo easy to see why they are the Subject Matter Experts. They continue to learn and educate themselves and others. They are the GO Getters!
  • Competitive pay and benefits: Warrant Officers receive competitive salaries and benefits, including a housing allowance, healthcare benefits, and retirement benefits, just like everyone else does. Let's be realistic, though; a Warrant Officer retirement check will be far more beneficial to you than an enlisted retirement check. So will the unique doors that open up with the title warrant officer.
  • Increased responsibility: Warrant Officers serve as technical experts and advisors to commanders and senior leaders and are often responsible for leading and training teams of soldiers. This increased responsibility can be challenging but provides a sense of accomplishment and purpose.
  • Job security: As highly specialized experts, Warrant Officers are in demand and have job security within the Army. Additionally, the Army provides a range of opportunities for career advancement and continued professional development.
  • Sense of community: Warrant Officers are part of a tight-knit community of highly skilled professionals who share a common bond and a sense of purpose. This can provide a strong sense of camaraderie and support throughout a Warrant Officer's career. I have never felt more included than I was when I was selected for WOCS. From that point, the number of Warrant Officers that reached out to provide guidance and mentorship has been more than the number of NCOs I've ever gotten guidance from. I've never felt alone or cornered. In this way, the Warrant Officer Cohort has genuinely done it right!

Eligibility Requirements

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So now that we know what amazing things you're getting, let's discuss the requirements. Each specialty has slightly different requirements, but these are generally the base requirements. There is a little wiggle room for waivers, but start your basis here, and you can check your specialty requirements at the Army Recruiting Page

One more time for those of you who didn't read the last paragraph, It's important to note that these are the basic eligibility requirements, and some Warrant Officer specialties may have additional requirements. Additionally, meeting the eligibility requirements does not guarantee acceptance into the Warrant Officer program, as the selection process is highly competitive.

  • Active Duty Army: You must be an active duty soldier in the U.S. Army.
  • Rank: You must be a sergeant (E-5) or above, with no more than 12 years of active federal service.
  • Education: You must have a high school diploma or equivalent and complete some college coursework. Additionally, some Warrant Officer specialties may have specific educational requirements.
  • Test Scores: You must have a minimum score of 110 on the General Technical (GT) portion of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), and a minimum score of 90 on the Technical Aptitude (TA) portion.
  • Security Clearance: You must have a favorable National Agency Check with Local Agency and Credit Checks (NACLC), and be eligible for a security clearance of Secret or higher.
  • Physical Fitness: You must meet the Army's height, weight, and physical fitness standards.
  • Age: You must be between 18 and 46 years old.
  • Citizenship: You must be a U.S. citizen.
  • Moral Character: You must have excellent moral character and be able to obtain a favorable recommendation from your commanding officer.

 

 

Choosing a Warrant Officer Specialty

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Let's be a bit realistic real quick… Unless you are coming in as a "Street to Seat" applicant, you don't choose your specialty. Your specialty chooses you. Your specialty comes from the background and expertise you have in the military unless you decide to become an aviation warrant officer.  

With this in mind, I will go through a few Warrant Officer specialties available in the U.S. Army, each with its unique set of skills, training, and responsibilities. You will notice that I even chose not to list my own specialty in the list. I've got something coming up for the Adjutant General Warrant Officers a little later on. So here's the list 🙂

  1. Aviation: Warrant Officers in this specialty are aviation operations and maintenance experts. They are responsible for piloting helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft and maintaining and repairing aviation equipment.
  2. Cyber: Warrant Officers in this specialty are cybersecurity and information technology experts. They work to protect the Army's networks and data from cyber threats, as well as provide support for Army information systems.
  3. Ordnance: Warrant Officers in this specialty are experts in the handling, storage, and disposal of ammunition and explosives. They are responsible for ensuring that Army weapons and ammunition are stored and transported safely and securely.
  4. Military Intelligence: Warrant Officers in this specialty are experts in gathering and analyzing intelligence information. They work to provide critical information to commanders to support decision-making on the battlefield.
  5. Signal: Warrant Officers in this specialty are experts in communication systems and networks. They are responsible for installing, operating, and maintaining Army communication systems, including radio, satellite, and computer networks.
  6. Military Police: Warrant Officers in this specialty are law enforcement and security operations experts. They work to maintain law and order on Army installations and in combat environments and provide security for Army personnel and equipment.
  7. Special Forces: Warrant Officers in this specialty are special operations and unconventional warfare experts. They lead and support Special Forces teams in various missions, including counterterrorism and foreign internal defense.
  8. Medical: Warrant Officers in this specialty are medical operations and logistics experts. They are responsible for managing medical supplies and equipment and providing medical support to Army personnel in the field.
  9. Logistics: Warrant Officers in this specialty are logistics operations and supply chain management experts. They are responsible for planning and coordinating the movement of Army personnel, equipment, and supplies.

These are just a few examples of the many Warrant Officer specialties available in the U.S. Army. Each specialty requires a unique set of skills and expertise and allows Warrant Officers to significantly contribute to the Army's mission.

 

Applying to Become a Warrant Officer

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The application process for becoming a Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army involves several steps and can take several months to complete. Here is an overview of the application process. Additionally, I will have a blog detailing the application process coming soon. When it is released, this post will be updated with the link here.

  • Meet the Basic Eligibility Requirements: Before you can apply to become a Warrant Officer, you must meet the basic eligibility requirements, including having completed Basic Combat Training, holding a rank of Sergeant or above, having at least eight years of active duty service, and meeting specific age and education requirements.
  • Submit an Application: The application includes a variety of forms, including medical records, performance evaluations, and letters of recommendation.
  • Pass a Selection Board: Once your application has been submitted, it will be reviewed by a selection board. The board will evaluate your qualifications and make a recommendation on whether you should be selected for Warrant Officer training.
  • Attend Warrant Officer Candidate School: If you are selected for Warrant Officer training, you will attend a Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS) at Fort Rucker, Alabama. The program consists of classroom and field training and lasts approximately six weeks.
  • Complete Additional Training: After completing the WOCS, you will be required to complete additional training specific to your chosen specialty. The length and nature of this training will vary depending on your specialty.

 

Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS) 

The Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS) is a training program for enlisted soldiers seeking to become Warrant Officers in the United States Army. The WOCS aims to provide candidates with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively perform the duties and responsibilities of a Warrant Officer.

The WOCS is a six-week program comprising classroom and field training. For more information on WOCS, you can read my blog, 10 Ways to Prepare for WOCS.

Closing

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At the end of the day, you need to know if this decision is for you, for yourself. So determine your WHY and go for what you know, but if you need to hear another summary of why you should do it, here goes.

Becoming a Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army is an excellent opportunity for those looking to take their military career to the next level. The role of a Warrant Officer is challenging and rewarding and offers many opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Becoming a Warrant Officer may be the right path for you if you want to advance your career and take on new responsibilities. As a Warrant Officer, you will be responsible for leading and managing soldiers and providing technical expertise in your chosen specialty. This role requires strong leadership skills, technical proficiency, and the ability to make critical decisions in high-pressure situations.

Becoming a Warrant Officer also offers many benefits, including a competitive salary, excellent benefits, and opportunities for career advancement. Additionally, Warrant Officers are highly respected within the military community and are recognized for their expertise and leadership abilities.

If you are considering becoming a Warrant Officer, it is essential to research and choose a specialty that aligns with your interests and skills. The U.S. Army offers a variety of specialties, including aviation, intelligence, and logistics, among others. By choosing a specialty you are passionate about, you will be more motivated to excel and succeed as a Warrant Officer.

Becoming a Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army is a challenging and rewarding career path that offers many personal and professional growth opportunities. Suppose you are looking to take your military career to the next level. In that case, I highly encourage you to consider becoming a Warrant Officer and taking on the responsibilities and challenges that come with this role.

 

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