How to Become a Warrant Officer in the Army
As a former military recruiter, I have spent countless hours explaining the process of how to become a warrant officer in the Army to potential military applicants. Compared to a regular Army enlistment, applying to the Army warrant officer program is a time consuming and lengthy process – but for those willing to put in the effort, the reward of top-notched advanced training combined with high job satisfaction can become a reality. Warrant officer applicants must assemble and submit warrant officer packets that will be evaluated by warrant officer selection boards that convene at various times throughout the year. Only the highest qualified and best prepared applicants are selected to become warrant officer candidates, and then the tough part begins.
Becoming a warrant officer in the Army is an extremely competitive endeavor because only the highest qualified individuals are accepted into the warrant officer program. Those that are fortunate enough to get selected must undergo rigorous training at the Army’s Warrant Officer Candidate School located at Fort Rucker, Alabama in addition to basic military training, and in some cases, advanced training in a military occupational specialty (MOS). Most newly appointed warrant officers spend about two years undergoing various phases of training before receiving their first operational assignment. This article will explain the warrant officer requirements for consideration and the general process of how to become a warrant officer in the Army.
Army Warrant Officer Program
First of all, what is an Army Warrant Officer and what do they do? Well, a warrant officer is considered a technical expert in their particular job specialty. The easiest way to describe a warrant officer’s function compared to a regular commissioned officer’s is that a commissioned officer is in charge of soldiers and a warrant officer is in charge of equipment. Warrant officers oversee the technical operation, repairs and modification of Army technology and equipment. Within the hierarchy of the military, warrant officers fall between enlisted non-commissioned officers and commissioned officers.
Army warrant officers are highly sought after in the civilian job market due to their high level of advanced technical experience and knowledge. When a warrant officer leaves active duty, they often fall right into high-paying private sector and civil service jobs which are able to capitalize on that knowledge and experience without having to provide additional training. There are warrant officers in almost all of the Army’s career fields, but the only warrant officer MOS available to new recruits is Flight Warrant (helicopter pilot). All other warrant officer positions are filled on a competitive basis by applicants from within the military enlisted ranks who submit warrant officer packets for selection consideration.
Army Flight Warrant Officer Requirements
Depending on whether you are trying to enlist as a flight warrant, or submit a warrant officer packet from within the military, the consideration requirements are generally the same. All warrant officer applicants must be High School diploma graduates and start out by taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (also known as the ASVAB test) to determine eligibility. This is a general requirement for anyone thinking about joining the military. This test grades an applicant in several different aptitude areas, but the scores that are most relevant are the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score which must be at least a 50 or higher and the General Technical (GT) score which must be 110 or higher. In actuality, an AFQT score of 70 or higher is the prime target for warrant officer candidates. Other general enlistment criteria include no major law violations or financial problems that would prevent obtaining a security clearance.
The next step would be to take the Army Flight Aptitude Selection Test (FAST). This is a general knowledge test that will evaluate your ability to learn flight concepts and you must achieve a score of 90 or higher to receive consideration. There are study guides available in most bookstores and libraries that can help prepare you for this test.
Once these tests have been passed, you will be scheduled for military enlistment physical exam, as well as a Class A flight physical. The enlistment exam is performed at the nearest Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) and can be done in conjunction with taking the ASVAB. The Class A flight physical is usually accomplished by a military physician at the nearest military installation. You must meet all current height, weight and physical ability requirements, as well as not requiring any type of medical waiver for enlistment.
Once the testing and physical requirements are met, it is time to begin assembling the warrant officer packet that will be submitted for consideration. The packet content is described in detail below and is basically the same as a packet submitted by applicants already in the military. As a non-military applicant, is important to add documentation that sets you apart from the competition and demonstrates your abilities. College transcripts, though not a requirement, go a long way in providing tangible proof of academic achievement. Obtaining a private pilot license is a great asset when applying to be a flight warrant, as well as reference letters from any military aviator officers you may know. The more evidence of scholastic and practical experience you can provide, the better your chances of being selected.
Technical (Walking) Warrant Officer Requirements
If you are an enlisted soldier submitting a warrant officer packet in your career field, you need to make sure your AFQT score from your enlistment ASVAB meets the criteria listed above. If not, then you may need to re-take the ASVAB before submitting a warrant officer packet. Most technical warrant officer MOS positions require a minimum of 2 to 5 years experience within the enlisted MOS before a selection packet can be submitted. Generally, most technical warrant positions will require the applicant to have completed a Basic Non-Commissioned Officer course and a minimum, 6-15 semester hours of college credit in math or English courses – however, there are waivers available for some of these requirements.
All military applicants must schedule themselves for a specific physical exam as a warrant officer candidate. This exam is basically the same as an enlistment physical and is done to ensure the applicant is still within current height and weight standards and has not developed any medical complications that might preclude remaining qualified for military service.
A military applicant is also required to obtain a written endorsement from a Chief Warrant Officer 3 (CW3) or higher in the appropriate MOS that will be included in the application packet. This endorsement is often the single most important factor in getting selected as a technical warrant officer. Warrant officer selection boards put a lot of faith and trust in the recommendations of fellow senior warrant officers.
Warrant Officer Packet
Assembling the warrant officer packet is a crucial step in preparing for the warrant officer selection board. A warrant officer packet is assembled in a specific order and demonstrates the applicant’s ability to pay attention to detail. It is also a good idea to have others to look over your packet to make sure you have not missed anything. For non-military flight warrant applicants, your recruiter will make sure your warrant officer packet is good to go before submitting it to the warrant officer selection board. Here are the items that should be included in the warrant officer packet:
- A Resume – this item is usually listed as optional, but I can tell you from experience, you will not get selected without including one. For enlisted military applicants, there is a specific format that must be used. The format is available on the Army’s warrant officer recruiting website.
- Copies of all Physicals – The physical exam forms must indicate that the exam was performed for warrant officer candidate consideration. Ideally, all physicals should be within 30 days of the packet submission date.
- An Official Department of the Army (DA) Photo – For non-military applicants, this will be taken care of by your recruiter. For enlisted applicants, you will need to schedule yourself for a DA photo.
- Education Credentials – Provide copies of all diplomas and transcripts relevant to the position you are applying to. Also include any special tests required such as the FAST.
- Reference Letters – Provide a minimum of 3 and no more than 6 letters of reference from the most prominent people you know who could vouch for your character and aptitude. Good examples include public officials, congressmen, the clergy and so forth.
- Recommendation Letter – For enlisted applicants, include a letter of recommendation from a CW3 or higher within the desired MOS.
- Army Officer Application Forms – There are several Department of the Army (DA) forms that must be completed and submitted with the warrant officer packet. For non-military applicants, these forms are completed by your recruiter. Military applicants are responsible for obtaining the forms through the Army’s publication website or the warrant officer recruiting site before submission.
There is a sample packet available for viewing at the Army’s Warrant Officer Recruiting website. Once the packet is constructed and assembled, it is sent to the United States Army Recruiting Command for inspection to ensure that all required documents are available. From there, the packet is sent to the next convening warrant officer selection board for consideration. A packet is eligible to be considered by two consecutive boards. If after the second board an applicant is not selected, their packet is returned with a letter of explanation. If the applicant wishes, they may begin the process again for future consideration.
Warrant Officer Candidate School
Once an applicant makes it through the selection process successfully, they are scheduled for the six-week Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS) at Fort Rucker, Alabama. All non-military applicants must undergo nine weeks of basic training before heading to WOCS which could prove to be extremely challenging.
The Warrant Officer Candidate School is in many ways just like basic training, only with many more leadership opportunities and academic responsibilities. It is conducted in a very stringent environment that is designed to evaluate a candidate’s ability to handle high pressure situations. Multi-tasking is a skill that would serve a warrant officer candidate extremely well. Upon graduation, the candidate is awarded the rank of Warrant Officer 1 (WO1) and must then undergo advanced training in the particular MOS for which selected. Additional training could last upwards of 1-2 years depending on the specialty.
Warrant Officer Pay
Here is the Current 2012 warrant officer pay table:
As you can see, a brand new warrant officer with less than 2 years of service is making almost $3,000 per month in basic pay alone. Add a housing stipend of $1,000-2,000 per month depending on location and full medical benefits, a warrant officer is making more than the national average for college grads right off the bat. If you see yourself as a professional and have the desire to gain as much technical experience as you can, then contact your local Army representative and let them show you how to become a warrant officer in the Army.
Additional Warrant Officer Resources
- Army Warrant Officer | goarmy.com
Warrant Officer Recruiting Information
- U.S. Army Recruiting Command's Warrant Officer Recruiting Information Site
Official Army Warrant Officer Recruiting Information and Tracking