The term Commissioned Officer generally refers to members of the Navy or Navy Reserve who have a degree from a four-year college or university as a minimum educational requirement and have gone through Officer Training (there are degree exceptions based on extensive service experience). Officer responsibilities range from low-level management to middle management to the highest levels of command.
Commissioned Officers can be thought of as the leadership and management team of the Navy and Navy Reserve. They hold positions in dozens of different career and job areas – from health care to chaplaincy, aviation to engineering.
These men and women tend to be highly educated and/or experienced. And they use their professional skills and leadership abilities to inspire the best in others.
Though most Officers possess a college degree, there is no degree requirement to become a Chief Warrant Officer or a Limited Duty Officer. These programs – which allow outstanding senior Enlisted Sailors to compete for a commission – provide the Navy with Officers who are technical specialists and technical managers and who have proven leadership in key positions throughout the service.
Chief Warrant Officers (CWOs)
Navy CWOs possess the authority and are qualified by extensive experience and knowledge to direct the most difficult and exacting operations within a given occupational specialty. Although intended primarily as technical specialists, CWOs may also serve as Division Officers, Department Heads, Officers-in-Charge, Executive Officers and Commanding Officers, ashore or afloat.
Limited Duty Officers (LDOs)
Navy LDOs progressively advance within broad technical fields related to their former Enlisted ratings. They fill leadership and management positions at the Ensign through Captain level that require technical background and skills not attainable through normal development within other Officer designators. LDOs serve as, but are not limited to serving as, Division Officers, Department Heads, Officers-in-Charge, Executive Officers and Commanding Officers, ashore or afloat.