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II. What is the difference between a Commissioned Officer and a Warrant Officer?

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  • II. What is the difference between a Commissioned Officer and a Warrant Officer?

    Generally speaking Commissioned Officers are either Army Leaders in "General Management" roles, or they are the "professional classes" of Doctors, Lawyers, Chaplains, etc. Warrant Officers are regarded as being either pilots, or technical and subject matter experts. They focus in very specific fields of expertise where they provide technical support and training to the rest of the force.

    Warrant Officers are experts in their field. They become experts by serving as an enlisted soldier to gain the skill and technical expertise that is required to be a Warrant Officer. Whereas enlisted experience is not required for Commissioned Officers. Only a select few Warrant Officer positions will take college or civilian experience instead of actual military experience. One of them is in IT and Networking. In addition, you have to consider some fields donít have regular Officers at all. CID Special Agent Warrant Officers MOS 311A is a great example. There are only enlisted and Warrant Officer CID Special Agents. You can become a Commissioned Officer and branch Military Police but serving as a CID Agent is specifically a Warrant Officer MOS that requires you to have previously served as a 31D (31B is not going to qualify you for 311A).

    The Intelligence field is also a good example of a career field where you can be a Commissioned Officer or a Warrant Officer. If I wanted to be an Intelligence officer I must have at least 90 college credits toward a 4 year degree and complete one of the officer commissioning programs (Officer Candidate School/OCS, ROTC at the College/University, or Graduate from one of the service Academies such as the US Army Academy at West Point), however I could become an Intel Warrant if I had the experience as an enlisted soldier serving with a primary MOS of 35L or 35M, Human or Counter Intelligence collection specialist.

    There are 17 Basic Branches to choose from to become a Commissioned Officer and 42 different Warrant Officer Career Fields.

    If you are a brand new soldier or not a soldier at all, and you are currently attending college or recently completed your degree, becoming a regular Officer is probably a more viable path for you to take. Warrants are required to have YEARS of enlisted experience where regular Basic Branch Officers are not.