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NOAA Corps

Frequently Asked Questions

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Question

What must my major(s) be to apply for the NOAA Commissioned Officers Corps program?

Answer

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.

Question

Can NOAA Corps officers donate unused leave under the leave transfer program?

Answer

In 1988, Congress passed a law providing a way for federal employees to share leave. The intent is that if a federal employee - or a family member - experiences a medical emergency, and as a result misses more work days than are covered by his or her own leave, they can avoid the additional hardship of lost income by using leave hours donated by others. You can learn more about this program at the DOC Human Resources website or the NOAA Workforce Management site.

There are some exceptions to the policy. Although NOAA Corps officers are federal employees, commissioned officer leave is governed by different laws than civilian leave. NOAA Corps officer leave is therefore not included in the leave transfer program.

Question

What does it mean to be a NOAA Corps Officer?

Answer

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)

Question

What are the educational requirements to apply for NOAA Corps?

Answer

Applicants must hold a baccalaureate degree awarded from a postsecondary institution accredited by the U. S. Department of Education. Accreditation can be verified at the Department of Education website. Preferably the applicant's major is in a course of study related to NOAA's scientific or technical activities.

All applicants, regardless of degree(s) awarded, must have completed at least 48 semester (72 quarter) hours in science, math or engineering course work pertaining to NOAA's missions. Course work shall include college level calculus and/or physics.

For more information click on eligibility requirements

Question

Can I apply for NOAA Corps if I am not a US citizen?

Answer

As a uniformed service of the United States, NOAA Corps only accepts applicants who are US citizens. All applicants must speak, read and write English fluently.

For more information click on eligibility requirements

Question

What is the age limit to join NOAA Corps?

Answer

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

Question

What are NOAA Corps vision requirements?

Answer

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

Question

What is the salary of a NOAA Corps Officer?

Answer

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

Question

I have a private pilot's license; can I be commissioned as an aviator?

Answer

NOAA Corps has two venues for recruiting pilots:

  1. Personnel brought in as an Inter-Service Transfer from the US Navy for the distinct purpose of P-3 support.
  2. 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.

Question

I am currently in another branch of service, how can I transition into NOAA Corps?

Answer

NOAA Corps has two venues to transition from another branch of service:

  • Inter-Service Transfer:

Requests for Inter-Service Transfer to NOAA Corps are evaluated individually. The decision to accept or deny an Inter-Service Transfer request is based on the immediate needs of NOAA Corps and the rank, skills, and experience of the applicant. Qualified Inter-Service Transfer applicants may be considered for direct placement in NOAA's aviation or maritime program.

All Inter-Service Transfer applicants must have less than 12 years total creditable service time and rank no higher than O-4.

Commissioned officers retain their rank at 100%. Enlisted and Reserve personnel are not eligible for Inter-Service Transfers.

For more information click on Inter-Service Transfer

Note: Banner at top of page will indicate type of Inter-Service Transfer applicants (aviation/maritime) NOAA Corps is currently accepting.

  • New Recruit:

Prior service members (commissioned/enlisted) and reservist applicants that do not qualify for an Inter-Service Transfer may apply for the NOAA Corps as a new recruit. New recruits must be fully discharged or a conditional release authorized prior to the start of BOTC training. Applicants must meet all eligibility requirements

Prior commissioned officers receive credits of at least 50% of their commissioned service time for promotion purposes.  If creditable service time is granted, it will be applied upon appointment to the grade of lieutenant (junior grade) or above.  100% of all prior creditable service time is used for pay/retirement purposes.

Prior enlisted personnel receive no credit for promotional purposes. 100% of prior creditable service time is used for pay/retirement purposes.

Note: 4 or more years of creditable service qualifies for O-1E pay; For more information click on Pay and Benefits

For more information click on New Recruits. All new recruits attend the same Basic Officer Training regardless of prior service.

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You are here: https://www.omao.noaa.gov/learn/noaa-corps/join/frequently-asked-questions
Reviewed: July 24, 2017. Contact us with page issues.

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