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NOAA Corps

New Recruits

Crew Members aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow

Crew members aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow, a fisheries survey vessel, pilot the ship down New York's East River.

If you are a new recruit, it is important to know there are two application cycles per year. All paperwork must be received by the deadline to receive an interview.

For even Basic Officer Training Classes (BOTC) (138, 140, 142, etc.):

  • Paperwork deadline is mid-December
  • Interview deadline is early-February
  • BOTC training starts in late July or early August

For odd BOTC classes (137, 139, 141, etc.):

  • Paperwork deadline is in early June
  • Interview deadline is late June
  • BOTC training starts in January the following year

BOTC 140 applicants will be able to in August start the application process by logging into the NOAA Corps E-Recruit System. You will be required to enter preliminary information to determine eligibility and create an E-Recruit account. After logging into your account, E-Recruit will guide you through the application process, allow you to track your submissions, and provide updates pertinent to your application.

NOAA Corps E-Recruit. Start application.

Required Application Materials

NOAA Form 56-42

Application for appointment in the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps. Complete this form using the E-Recruit System. After digitally completing the form, print, sign, and date the form. Mail the signed hard copy to the Officer Recruiting Branch.

*Although not required, sending a professional resume and cover letter along with your NOAA Form 56-42 is recommended.

NOAA Form 56-42A

3 Letters of Recommendation are required. The NOAA Form 56-42A (which will be provided by NOAA Corps recruiters) must be signed and submitted directly by the reference. A formal letter may also be attached. References should be knowledgeable of your character, professional work or training, and leadership potential. Professional references include professors, employment supervisors, clergyman, etc.

Only one reference may be of a personal nature. Family members are not acceptable references.

Before providing references with NOAA Forms 56-42A, be certain to complete all fillable fields on page 1 and enter your name in the "Applicant's Name" field at the top of page 2. References may submit this signed document via hard copy or electronic format. Electronic submissions must be sent to directly from the reference.

Official Transcripts

Certified official transcripts must be submitted from each college or university attended. This includes transcripts from any transfer credits applied towards a bachelor degree. Certified official transcripts must come directly from the institution.

An official Letter of Intent indicating graduation status and date is required for any applicant that will not graduate before the application deadline. A degree must be awarded at least two months before the BOTC start date. If selected for appointment in the NOAA Corps, these officer candidates must provide a final transcript showing the degree has been awarded.

Additional Items

If an applicant has prior enlisted or commissioned service, the following items are required:

  • Official or notarized copies of all DD214's (Member-4 Copy), or service equivalent forms, issued upon release from periods of active duty and/or separation from service. A separate DD214 must be included to cover each individual period of active duty.
  • Copies of Fitness Report/Officer Evaluation Report (FITREPs/OERs) covering applicant’s most recent five years of service.
  • DD Form 368, Request for Conditional Release. Every applicant with Active, Reserve, Guard or Inactive Reserve (IRR) commitment will need to initiate the process in accordance with the releasing services requirements.


All applicants must be interviewed by a NOAA Corps officer. Once the application materials listed above have been received and reviewed by the Officer Recruiting Branch, an interview will be scheduled with an appropriately ranked and experienced NOAA Corps officer. The interviewing officer will submit an evaluation directly to the Officer Recruiting Branch.

Note: In an effort to normalize interview evaluation scores and more effectively select the most qualified candidates to attend BOTC, interviews will be conducted by designated officers on a regional basis. The NOAA Corps does not reimburse applicants for travel associated with the interview and depending on the applicant's location relative to their designated interviewer, more time might be needed to schedule travel plans. As a result, it is important to submit application documents early enough in order to begin the interview scheduling process. 

The deadline for completing an application package is typically six months prior to the start of the next scheduled BOTC. Applications are subject to a final administrative screening to ensure all eligibility requirements have been met. If, at any time, it is found that an applicant does not meet these requirements, they will not be considered for an appointment in the NOAA Corps.

Complete application packages will be forwarded to an Officer Personnel Board (OPB) for review. The OPB will recommend Primary and Alternate officer candidates to the Director, NOAA Corps. Once the Director, NOAA Corps reviews and signs the recommended Primary and Alternate candidate list, applicants will be notified of their status (Primary, Alternate, or Non-Select) via a formal letter. Primary and Alternate candidates will be provided with further instructions regarding administrative processing and physical examinations at that time.

Note: Pre-commissioning physical examinations consist of standard procedures, and are funded by NOAA Corps. If further information is necessary to determine a candidate's medical qualification, any costs incurred obtaining that information is the responsibility of the officer candidate. Failure to acquire medical qualification will result in withdrawal from the upcoming BOTC. Depending upon the nature of the disqualification, a candidate MAY be deferred to the next class without reapplication.


candidates will be offered a temporary appointment in the NOAA Corps, contingent upon final administrative screening, passing a medical examination as prescribed in the NOAA Corps Directives, passing a preliminary background screening for a Secret level security clearance, and receiving negative test results for illegal drug use.


candidates will be ranked by the OPB and offered a temporary appointment in the NOAA Corps if an opening becomes available. Such openings occur if a Primary candidate declines the commission, does not pass background check or is medically disqualified. Alternates will also be required to pass a medical examination, pass a preliminary background screening, and receive negative test results for illegal drug use. The highest ranked Alternate will transfer to a Primary candidate if a position becomes available.


applicants will not be offered an appointment in the NOAA Corps. Non-Selects are welcome to re-apply for commission.

Application materials should be mailed to the address below.

Note: Please do not send application documents that contain Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

NOAA Corps Officer Recruiting Branch 
Commissioned Personnel Center 
8403 Colesville Road, Suite 500 
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Additional guidance on electronic document submission can be found within the NOAA Corps E-Recruit System.

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

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Reviewed: June 9, 2021. Contact us with page issues.

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