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Eligibility and Benefits

Learn about our eligibility requirements, pay and benefits, and pre-commissioning requirements.

The NOAA Corps seeks officer candidates with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) backgrounds, a desire to serve their country, and leadership potential. If you have these qualities and are interested in a career incorporating service, science, and adventure, you will find a unique opportunity in the NOAA Corps. We encourage you to explore our website.

For further information, questions, and guidance on the NOAA Corps, contact our recruiters:

LCDR Andrew Reynaga, NOAA Corps Recruiting Officer, noaacorps.recruiting@noaa.gov, 301-713-7727

LCDR Dustin Picard, Chief, NOAA Corps Recruiting Branch, chief.noaacorps.recruiting@noaa.gov, 301-713-7717

Pay and Benefits

Officer pay is based on rank and time in service.

The figures below are for an Officer Candidate with no prior service, as of January 2023.

Monthly pay and allowances at Basic Officer Training Class (BOTC), New London, Connecticut
Basic Pay $2,730.30
Basic Allowance for Subsistence1 $311.68
TOTAL $3,041.98

Married officers also receive a monthly Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)1 while at Basic Officer Training Class (BOTC) in New London, CT. The amount of BAH varies with duty station location and/or the location of the officer's dependents.

While at BOTC, room is provided at no charge. You must reimburse the government for meals.

Example of monthly pay and allowances for new officers following BOTC
Basic Pay $3,637.20
Basic Allowance for Subsistence1 $311.68
Basic Allowance for Housing1 $2,145.00 (New London, CT with dependents)
Career Sea Pay Varies (based on seagoing experience)
Dive Pay $240.00 (Only for Qualified Divers if Requirements are Met)
Aviation Incentive Career Pay Varies (Only for Qualified Aviators)
Total $6,333.88

Basic Allowance for Housing

Single officers not living aboard ship, and married officers receive a monthly Basic Allowance for Housing"1. The amount varies based on the ship's home port.

Examples of Basic Allowance for Housing
Homeport Officer without dependents Officer with dependents
Norfolk, VA $1,785.00 $2,061.00
Newport, OR $1,776.00 $2,256.00

Other benefits include:

  • 30 days of paid vacation each year
  • Retirement with pension after 20 years of active duty service
  • Blended Retirement System
  • Comprehensive medical and dental coverage
  • Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits
  • Military exchange and commissary privileges
  • Option to enroll for the following benefits:
    • $500,000 term life insurance at a cost of $27.00 per month; (lower coverage amounts may be selected, and coverage for spouse and children is also available)
    • Thrift Savings Plan [similar to 401(k) Plan found in private sector]
    • 9/11 GI Bill Education Benefit Program
    • Long Term Care Insurance(various options/premiums)

For more information about pay and benefits, see Pay and Benefits under the Commissioned Personnel Center section.

1Tax-Free Allowance (not subject to Federal or state income taxes)

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for appointment in the NOAA Corps, an applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • Applicants must be a United States citizen of good moral character. If selected for appointment, an officer candidate must provide official proof of United States citizenship by birth or naturalization.
  • Applicants must hold a baccalaureate degree, preferably in a major course of study related to NOAA’s scientific or technical activities. This degree must be awarded from a postsecondary institution accredited by the U. S. Department of Education. Accreditation can be verified at the Department of Education website.
  • Applicants must have completed at least 48 semester (72 quarter) hours in STEM course work pertaining to NOAA's missions.
  • All applicants are encouraged to explore NOAA's website and read about the agency's missions. Courses that relate to these missions are acceptable with regards to application for BOTC.
  • Some examples of college courses that are accepted towards academic eligibility include, but are not limited to:
    • Aeronautics, Algebra, Anatomy, Animal Science, Animal Behavior, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Biochemistry, Biology, Botany, Calculus, Climatology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Ecology, Electrical Engineering, Entomology, Environmental Science, Forestry, Geochemistry, Geography, Geology, Geometry, Geophysics, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Hydrology, Ichthyology, Limnology, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Meteorology, Microbiology, Oceanography, Physics, Physiology, Programming, Scientific Methods, Seismology, Statistics, Thermodynamics, Toxicology, Trigonometry, Volcanology, Zoology
  • Some courses at the entry-level or unrelated fields will not count toward academic eligibility. Examples include, but are not limited to:
    • Economics, Forensic Science, Nutrition, Political Science, Pharmacology, Psychology, Physical Therapy, Sociology

Medical Requirements

If selected for appointment, officer candidates must satisfactorily pass a mental and physical examination as prescribed by the NOAA Corps Directives. The NOAA Corps medical standards are based on the requirements for officer candidates set forth in the United States Coast Guard medical manual for commissioned officers. Physical exams are completed at Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS) per Department of Defense (DOD) instructions.
The NOAA Diving Program and NOAA Aviation program have additional medical requirements.

Background Investigation

All NOAA Corps officers must be able to obtain, and maintain, a security clearance level of “Secret”. Prior to appointment, the Department of Commerce will conduct a background investigation of each officer candidate to determine eligibility for a security clearance.

Eligibility can be affected by such factors as failure to register for the Selective Service, unsatisfactory employment records, violations of the law, drug or alcohol abuse, criminal record, and less than honorable discharge from the armed forces. The investigation includes interviews with current and previous contacts, supervisors, and co-workers.

An officer’s commission may be revoked at any time during his/her first three (3) years of service if unable to obtain, and maintain, this minimum level security clearance.

Illegal Substance Screening

In accordance with the Department of Commerce’s Plan for a Drug-Free Workplace, all officer candidates must be tested for illegal drug use prior to appointment in the NOAA Corps. Any of the following circumstances will result in disqualification for appointment:

  • Confirmed positive test
  • Refusal to submit to testing
  • Failure to cooperate with the collection process
  • Failure to appear for a scheduled test without acceptable explanation
  • Tampering with, adulterating, or substituting a sample

All NOAA Corps officers are subject to random drug testing throughout their career.

The NOAA Corps is committed to equal opportunity for all persons.

Pre-Commissioning Medical Screening Process

If you are recommended as a primary or alternate candidate by the Officer Personnel Board (OPB) to receive a temporary appointment into the NOAA Corps, you will be required to submit medical documents prior to the scheduling of your pre-commissioning physical examination. A complete list of medical documents are listed and linked below:

Administrative Forms

Medical Documents 
  • Report of Medical History (DD Form 2807-2) (2018 edition)
    • Supporting medical documentation from a treating provider is required for all "Yes" items
  • Complete Immunization Record
  • DD2813 (Dental Exam with Bitewing X-rays within the last 12 months)
  • Optometry (if other than 20/20 vision) current refraction prescription required
  • FEMALE Applicants Only: Current PAP smear and Pelvic exam (results and clinical note)

A complete checklist of medical documents can be found here.

Documents will be required as PDF within two weeks of selection notification, so we highly encourage candidates to work on collecting these documents in the months leading up to the selection board to prevent delays or potential disqualifications. In some cases, you will not be scheduled for a pre-commissioning physical examination until this information has been received and reviewed.

The completed forms and medical information must be sent to the Medical Administration Branch electronically using NOAA's Accellion Secure File Transfer. An invitation will be forthcoming for those selected as Primary or Alternate Candidates.

Once your forms are reviewed, you may be required to submit additional medical documentation pertaining to medical condition(s) identified on your Form DD2807-1. You will receive written notification from the Medical Administration Branch if additional medical information is necessary.

Each primary candidate and selected alternate is required to undergo a pre-commissioning physical examination and will report to a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) for completion of a NOAA pre-commissioning physical examination. The pre-commissioning physical examination will be scheduled at the Kansas City MEPS or alternative location dictated by the United States Military Entrance Processing Command. NOAA will cover the costs associated with MEPS travel.

Selected candidates must be able to satisfactorily pass the mental and physical examination as prescribed by the NOAA Corps Directives in order to receive an appointment in the NOAA Corps.

Any expenses associated with additional testing outside of the scope of the NOAA prescribed pre-commissioning physical examination will be at your own expense.

Failure to provide the necessary information will prevent the medical officer from making a final determination regarding your medical status and your application will not be considered for further processing.

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