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Frequently Asked Questions

What must my major(s) be to apply for this 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 the NOAA Corps take people with prior service?

The NOAA Corps does commission individuals with prior service. Prior service applicants must meet all entry requirements. Not less than 50% of prior commissioned service credit will be provided for promotion purposes. Full service credit will be provided for pay purposes.

I have prior service in the military, will I keep my rank?

Officers with prior commissioned service, who are not interservice transfer recipients, receive credit of atleast 50% of their commissioned service time for promotion purposes. Occasionally, more credit is given based upon relevant work experience, up to 75% of prior commissioned service time. Interservice transfer recipients retain their rank at 100%.

How can I transition into the NOAA Corps from another branch of service?

Please see page on Inter-Service Transfer Information.

What is the age limit to join the NOAA Corps?

For original appointments, a commissioned officer candidate must be able to complete 20 years of active commissioned service before their 62nd birthday.

How much will I get paid and how often?

Uniformed Service Members are paid on the 1st and the 15th of the month. The pay amount is based on rank, time in service, marital status, and where you live. Here is a link to the current Military pay chart at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service Web site: Military Pay Tables.

What are NOAA Corps vision requirements?

A candidate 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.

What will I do at my first duty station?

All officers completing Basic Officer Training will serve their first 2 to 3 years of employment stationed aboard one of NOAAs Research vessels.

Does the NOAA Corps pick where I will be stationed or will I have a say?

During Basic Officer Training, each officer will submit a memorandum listing his or her top three choices for their first ship assignment. The needs of the Service is 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 assignment preferences.

What if I am not a US citizen?

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

Do I have to get my hair cut at Basic Officer Training?

Not necessarily, but it must meet the following standards: For males, hair may not touch the ears or collar, extend below eyebrows, or interfere with the proper wear of uniform headgear. If an officer arrives at basic training class with their hair outside of NOAA Corps regulations, they will be required to get a haircut immediately following arrival.

Females are not required to get their hair cut, but when in uniform their hair may touch, but not fall below, the lower edge of the collar.

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

The NOAA Corps has only two venues for recruiting pilots:

  • Personnel brought on board from the US Navy for the distinct purpose of P-3 support or

  • Acceptance to flight training following an initial three year assignment at sea as a bridge watchstander. Unless you are a current P3 Pilot or Navigator, you will only be considered for the flight program following an initial three year sea assignment. A officer candidate is not guaranteed aviation training upon commissioning.
    Note: Pilots and Navigators have strict vision and other physical requirements.

Does the NOAA Corps have any summer jobs, internship or co-op opportunities?

The NOAA Officer Corps does not currently offer summer internship, or co-op employment programs. However, some civilian NOAA programs have a limited number of such opportunities depending on your specific interests. For more information please visit or

If I am a retired service member can I join the NOAA Corps?

A commissioned officer of NOAA may not be a member of another uniformed service. Retiring from any of the other six uniform services makes an applicant ineligible for appointment.

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