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Frequently Asked Questions

Reference testimonial by Rear Admiral Evelyn J. Fields, NOAA (Ret)

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

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

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

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

NOAA Corps Officers 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.

For more information click on Pay and Benefits

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. Unless you are a current P-3 pilot or navigator, you will only be considered for the flight program following an initial three year sea assignment. An officer is not guaranteed aviation training upon commissioning.

Note: Pilots and Navigators have strict vision and other physical requirements.

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

1. 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.

2. Non Inter-Service Transfer:

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 Non-Inter Service Transfer. Non-Inter Service Transfers 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 credit of at least 50% of their commissioned service time for promotion purposes upon completion of one year of temporary assignment as Ensign. 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

Non Inter-Service Transfers attend Basic Officer Training Class similar to other applicants with no prior service.

Retiring from any of the other six uniform services makes an applicant ineligible for appointment.

For more information click on Basic Officer Training

For more information click on Personal Appearance

During Basic Officer Training Class, each officer will submit a memorandum listing his or 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

All officers completing Basic Officer Training Class will serve their first 2 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, 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.)

NOAA 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 click on NOAA Careers and NOAA Volunteer opportunities

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