Armor Officer Career Path

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Armor Officer Career Path

There are many career paths you can choose in the military, and one of the most interesting and rewarding is becoming an armor officer. Armor officers are responsible for leading tanks and armored vehicles in battle, so it’s essential to have a strong understanding of armor and tank operations. If you’re interested in pursuing a career as an armor officer, here’s what you need to know about the job requirements and training process.

1. What Is an Armor Officer?

Armor officers are responsible for leading soldiers in battle using tanks and other armored vehicles. They’ll need to utilize their knowledge of armor capabilities, terrain, enemy tactics, morale, and more to lead troops on the ground. These brave individuals will be required to drive these weapons directly into battle, so they must have excellent decision-making skills and quick reflexes.

Armor officers will provide support to planes, helicopters, and infantry units during the heat of battle.

As an armor officer, you’ll typically work in a tank or other armored vehicle that’s part of a convoy, platoon, or another military unit. You may also be responsible for training soldiers to use these vehicles and to lead them during operations. If you’re interested in this type of work, you’ll need to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS), which is a multi-week training program that will prepare you for armor officer positions.

2. What Are the Job Responsibilities of an Armor Officer?

As an armor officer, you’ll need to be a fierce leader and a skilled tactician. This is a highly physical job that requires mental toughness and many hours in the field. You may be responsible for: 

  • Driving tank-like vehicles into battle to support infantry units
  • Leading tanks in battle from inside the armored vehicle
  • Operating communication equipment to coordinate troop movements
  • Leading gunnery crews in battle
  • Training soldiers to operate tanks and other armored vehicles
  • Performing maintenance on armored vehicles when your crew is not in use

3. What Are the Education Requirements of an Armor Officer?

To become an officer in the United States Army, you must have a four-year college degree. This includes being commissioned through ROTC or Officer Candidate School (OCS), which includes both college and military training.

There are two types of armor officers: The cavalry officer (38B) leads combat troops, while the armor officer (42A) serves in the maintenance and/or tactical command of tank units.

Before becoming an armor officer, you must first become a cavalry officer (38B). To do this, you need to attend ROTC at your college or university for three years. If you already have four years of commissioned service in the Reserves or National Guard, you can enroll in OCS.

If you attend ROTC, upon graduation and the receipt of your bachelor’s degree, you will be commissioned as a second lieutenant and attend four weeks of Basic Officer Leader Course (BOLC) at Fort Knox, Ky., followed by six weeks of Airborne training at Fort Benning, Ga.

If you graduate from OCS, your training will be different than that of ROTC in that one-third of it is in the classroom and two-thirds is in the field, where you’ll learn how to maneuver tanks by day and night. Afterward, you’re assigned to a unit for practical application of what you’ve learned.

Once assigned, an armor officer will spend a year as a tank platoon leader and company executive officer, followed by another two years as a troop commander and squadron or battalion staff officer. You’ll rise to the rank of captain during this time frame before becoming a major–the rank required to command an armor company or battalion.

Within the armor branch, officers are categorized by the type of tank they leadlight (scout), medium (armored personnel carrier), and heavy (main battle tank).

If you’re promoted to lieutenant colonel, you become eligible for the position of battalion or brigade commander. Promotion to colonel will put you in line for duty as a division chief at a corps or higher headquarters, a division commander, or commanding general of a division.

You must be at least 20 years old and a U.S. citizen to become an armor officer in the Army. You can’t have any drug-related criminal convictions nor have used illegal drugs within the last year, although past use isn’t disqualifying unless it involves “distribution.” If you’re married, at least one of your children must be under age 18, and you must be able to have access to government housing. You also must meet Army weight and fitness standards.

4. What Is the Retirement Age for Armor Officers?

There isn’t a specific age at which you have to retire from being an armor officer. However, if you aren’t able to continue serving in your military position at a satisfactory level, you will be forced to retire by the Army’s Physical Evaluation Board. In order to stay fit enough to continue serving, you’ll have to pass your physical fitness tests every year.

5. What Are Some Benefits of Becoming an Armor Officer in the U.S. Army?

One tangible benefit of being an armor officer is that you can receive a variety of payments and benefits, including salary, housing allowances, and $600 per month for food if you’re stationed overseas.

You also may qualify for student loan repayment, separation pay, and/or the Montgomery GI Bill. You will be paid $375 per month under the Army College Fund while you’re enrolled in school, which can result in up to $26,000 of additional funds over three years.

6. What Are the Physical Requirements of an Armor Officer?

To qualify for OCS and become an armor officer, you’ll need to be in top physical shape. You may not have time to work out while serving as a military officer, but you should also avoid gaining weight during this time. Most military officers are required to pass periodic fitness tests, which will include strength and endurance exercises. Because the armor branch requires officers to lead tanks in battle, you’ll have to be able to lift heavy weights and successfully complete basic training.

7. What Is the Armor Officer Training Process?

Once you’ve completed OCS, you’ll be assigned to a duty station where you’ll prepare for your next assignment. During this time, you’ll apply for your security clearance. You will then have to complete Airborne School, which teaches students how to properly jump out of a plane with a parachute that opens at the right height and keeps them from slamming into the ground too hard.

This phase also includes training in land navigation–the ability to find your way, taking into account the terrain and the type of land. You’ll also learn how to drive tanks and other armored vehicles, which requires you to have good hand-eye coordination. Afterward, you’ll undergo training in tank gunnery–the use of tanks’ weaponry during battle.

8. What Is Some Armor Officer Operating Requirements?

Because of your role as a military officer, you’ll have to temporarily move from the general population into the Army’s Officer Candidate School located in Fort Benning. During this time, you will live on base and be given a rank of E-5 while attending OCS.

You’ll also find that some requirements are different for armor officers while they attend Officer Candidate School. For example, there are a few physical fitness tests that you’ll have to pass while attending OCS, and some portions of the training curriculum may be set up differently for armor officers.

In order to become an Armored Officer in the US Army, all applicants must first attend Basic Combat Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Afterward, Officer Candidate School is required before attending the Armor Basic Officer Leaders Course at Fort Benning, Georgia, and then going to their initial assignment with a unit.

9. How Much Does an Armor Officer Make?

An armor officer’s initial payment is based on their rank and time in service. After attending OCS at Fort Benning, GA, an Armor Officer will enter the Army as a second lieutenant (O-1) with a pay grade of $3561 per month. However, there are several benefits that may increase an Armor officers income, including promotion to the rank of Captain (O-3), $4518 per month; promotion to the rank of Major (O-5), $5,391 per month; and promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (O-6), $6,833.

Officers in pay grades O-1 through O-3 with more than two years of active duty or more than four years in the Reserves or National Guard are entitled to a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) at the with-dependents rate.

Officers in pay grades O-1 through O-3 who have earned advanced degrees also receive additional monthly payments. If you’re an Armor Officer and your undergraduate degree is from an institution of higher learning accredited by a regional or national accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, you are eligible to receive the difference between your current Basic Pay rate and what you would be receiving if your degree was an Associate’s degree from an accredited two-year college.

10. The Job Outlook for an Armor Officer

Since many wars are currently taking place in the Middle East, there is a high demand for Armor Officers within the military. For that reason, you can anticipate having no problems finding jobs as an Armor Officer.

Overall, the job outlook for people who want to join this career field looks good. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) predicts employment growth of 14% for the 2014-2024 decade. This means that about 700 new jobs will open each year.

Of course, there may be times during which it appears Armor officers are in high demand and then other times where they’re not. For example, after the Iraq War ended, many Armor Officers were laid off or left the military for other reasons. You will find that the demand and opportunities for Armor Officers change over time, and it’s something you’ll need to keep in mind if you’re looking into this career field.

11. How Long Does it Take to Become an Armor Officer?

The exact time it takes to become an Armor Officer will vary by person and career goals. As you can see above, there are several steps involved in becoming a commissioned officer and making the rank of Captain (O-3). It’s important to keep in mind that every journey is different. For instance: some people may want to enter as an officer right from college, while others may want to go in as a soldier and then become an Armor Officer.

If you’re looking for a more direct approach, you can always apply directly to OCS in order to become an officer in the Army. Keep in mind that there are also various scholarships available that can help pay for your training, depending on your circumstances and qualifications.


The career path of an armor officer is one that requires strength, intelligence, and discipline. It is a challenging but rewarding field that allows officers to serve their country and protect its citizens. If you are interested in becoming an armor officer, there are many resources available to help you get started. The best way to learn more about this career path is to attend an information session or speak with a recruiter. Thank you for your interest in the armor officer career path!

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