Frequently Asked Questions
What must my major(s) be to apply for the NOAA Commissioned Officers Corps program?
Applicants must receive a four-year degree. All majors are acceptable, however, engineering, the physical and life sciences, or mathematics are preferred. All candidates must meet minimum course requirements, regardless of the degree they hold.
Does NOAA Corps decide where I will be stationed or will I have input?
During Basic Officer Training Class, each officer will submit a memorandum listing his/her top three choices for their first ship assignment. The needs of the service are primary and there is no guarantee of assignment. However, each officer's assignment preference and education is taken into consideration. For future assignments, whenever possible, NOAA Corps will try to match an officer's assignment with one of his/her skills, background and assignment preferences.
For more information on NOAA's fleet click on NOAA's Marine Operations
For billet descriptions click on Assignments
I have a private pilot's license; can I be commissioned as an aviator?
NOAA Corps has two venues for recruiting pilots:
- Personnel brought in as an Inter-Service Transfer from the US Navy for the distinct purpose of P-3 support.
- Acceptance to flight training following an initial three year assignment at sea as a bridge watchstander.
Note: An officer is not guaranteed aviation training upon commissioning. Pilots and Navigators have strict vision and other physical requirements.
What does it mean to be a NOAA Corps Officer?
The NOAA Corps, the Nation’s seventh uniformed service, incorporates many aspects of a commissioned officer's career with scientific mission of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This service seeks officers for an initial two year sea assignment. Basic Officer Training Classes (BOTC) are held in February and August.
One of the principle objectives of the NOAA Corps training program is to develop maritime and nautical skills, with emphasis on shipboard operations. Following each Basic Officer Training Program, our newly trained officers begin their trek to Woods Hole, Charleston, Norfolk, Pascagoula, Seattle, and Honolulu to meet and join what they will call home for the next two years, a NOAA ship. Upon reporting, I expect each officer to work hard, but I want him or her to have some fun too. As much as they’d like their training to be over, it’s really just beginning. Upon reporting aboard their ships they will be assigned watchstanding responsibilities and tasked with various collateral duties. They will be required to learn the in’s and out’s of the ship in addition to learning how to safely deploy and recover fishing gear, underwater cameras, oceanographic sampling instrumentation, and sonar devices, to name just a few. There is also a great deal to learn about the programs that our ships sup port. Yes, training will continue.
The flexibility and mobility of the NOAA Corps provides NOAA an indispensable tool. The officer will find themselves assigned throughout the Agency, in all line offices. I believe NOAA Corps officers have the best job in all of NOAA. They may work on fisheries’ issues in one assignment, satellite operations in another, and an administrative position in yet another, and still definitely have the opportunity to go to sea or fly in between these assignments. All the time they remain a NOAA Corps Officer. Initially each officer will be told what to do, but quickly they will exercise their leadership skills and it will be incumbent upon them to lead and manage. We will be counting on them.
Being a NOAA Corps officer is a privilege and an honor. Newly commissioned officers have wound their way through a very competitive recruiting process and completed a rigorous training program. As NOAA Corps officers, they will be a critical part of the web of science and management within NOAA. They have developed the discipline to succeed, and they have the esprit de corps that build strong teams.
Thank you again for visiting our site. I wish you fair winds and following seas and look forward to seeing you in the NOAA fleet.
— Rear Admiral Evelyn J. Fields, NOAA (Ret)
If I am a retired service member, can I join NOAA Corps?
Retiring from any of the other six uniform services makes an applicant ineligible for appointment.
What is the salary of a NOAA Corps Officer?
NOAA Corps Officers are paid on a military pay scale. The pay amount is based on rank, time in service, marital status, and where you live.
For more information click on Pay and Benefits
What will I do at my first duty station?
All officers completing Basic Officer Training Class will serve up to 3 years stationed aboard one of NOAA's research vessels. General duties include familiarization with assigned ship and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs); Performing inport Officer of the Deck (OOD) duties; Standing navigational watches as Junior Officer of the Deck (JOOD), typically in a "4 hours on, 8 hours off" schedule; Performing collateral duties as assigned (i.e. correcting navigational charts, tracking imprest fund, environmental compliance, safety and damage control, etc.)
What are NOAA Corps vision requirements?
An applicant must have normal color vision, an uncorrected visual acuity no worse than 20/400 in each eye, and their vision must be correctable to 20/20.
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. Any potential disqualifying conditions will be addressed using an Individualized Assessment process.
For more information click on eligibility requirements
What is the age limit to join NOAA Corps?
For original appointments, a commissioned officer candidate must be able to complete 20 years of active commissioned service before their 62nd birthday.
For more information click on eligibility requirements
Does NOAA Corps have any summer jobs, internship or co-op opportunities?