What are the Opportunities for Non-Commissioned Personnel to become Commissioned Officers in the British Armed Forces?

There are a variety of opportunities for non-commissioned personnel to become commissioned officers in the British Armed Forces as outlined below.

Naval Services

The Naval Service ((Royal Navy) and Royal Marines (RM)) runs several schemes to provide opportunities for the promotion of RN and RM Other Ranks to commissioned ranks.

These personnel compete along side non-service candidates and must pass selection by the Admiralty Interview Board. The schemes are:

  • Upper Yardmen and Royal Marine Corps Commissions to provide opportunities for promotion to commissioned ranks open to those aged under 26; and
  • RN Senior Upper Yardman and RM Senior Corps Commission open to those over the age of 26.


  • Soldier Commissions: The Army commissions soldiers from the ranks, selecting those judged to have sufficient leadership potential, to attend the standard commissioning course. Both direct entry (DE) and soldier commission candidates are assessed and then selected at the Army Officer Selection Board, Westbury thereby assuring a level method of selection and quality.
  • Late Entry Commissions: For those who are not selected for a direct entry commission from the ranks, then after nine years service (from age 21), and having attained the rank of sergeant, all soldiers are eligible to apply for a late entry (LE) commission up to 44 years of age (waivers can be applied for older applicants).

Royal Air Force

Serving personnel in the rank of senior aircraftsman and above are eligible to apply for the Internal Commissioning Scheme (ICS).

Leading aircraftsmen and below who wish to be considered for commissioning must meet the appropriate eligibility criteria for direct entrants including the required qualifications (for example, non commissioned aircrew must have completed a three-year tour of duty at the time of entry into the initial officer training centre).


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