Why do you want to be an officer

A bit of a dilemma, wanting to become an officer but get given the question WHY DO YOU WANT TO BECOME AN OFFICER, and all the answer I give are not good enough need help to have a better answer, really want to go into uniform, but feels as though I’m being held back, can those that have been in same boat please help

Well, what are your answers?

Personally I don’t. I don’t want the extra responsibility that goes with uniform as I can do all I want to do as a CI. I left all that saluting and Sir or Ma’am stuff when I was a Cadet. We have a CI thinking bout going down the Uniform route and their reason is that they can push for more if they are in uniform. They also enjoy wearing uniform so good for them. My own opinion is when you go into uniform you are more likely to be guilt tripped into courses or activities which I have seen with my own eyes. I do not need this to be a job although being a CI is like working within an Admin environment at times.

So knowing what your answers and thoughts are about going into uniform would be a good start.


Well theres a massive cross over between the SNCO/Officer roles and it can be quite hard to justify why you are choosing one over the other

Technically an officer is all about creating a plan for the unit and ensuring that plan is delivered as well as the business as usual stuff. Ensuring the whole staff team is engaged in their vision.

A SNCO is about being the feet on the ground and getting aspects of that plan or activities completed.

My answer to the interviewers at Cranwell…

I wanted to create the path for the cadets to walk down rather than simply lead them down it.

I want to be a major part in operational decision making on a unit and then one day be an OC.

@AlexCorbin is right also. There are SNCOs in officers roles in certain places at present due to lack of officers etc.

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As is the case nowadays in the Royal Air Force.

A lot of it does come down to relative top-end responsibilities coupled with individual personality styles.

It’s a massive oversimplification to say that Officers decide, design, delegate and direct, whilst SNCOs deliver, designate, deduce &…drill…however…if an SNCO is having to do a lot of those first elements, really in all fairness they should be a commissioned officer. And the above listed factors will rarely be too far from these intended target areas…

There is an intended differential when it comes to levels of management responsibility & authority. Officers are expected to take command, and to lead. NCOs (classically) are meant to accept commands and to be led…I do NOT mean specifically in the context of RAFAC, I just perceive this to be the overall intended heirarchy for commissioned officer versus non-commissioned officer cadres.

Please let’s not get into a metaphysical conversation about some mythical Israeli or quasi-Scandinavian military structure, where either Offrs or NCOs don’t exist, and it’s a democratic utopia…structures that have existed for centuries do so, because fundamentally they work…or have the capacity to so do

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I wanted to be an officer mainly because I didn’t want to have to put up with having to follow the command or instructions of the SNCOs I hated as a CWO?

CBA to fluff that into something corporate speaky.


If you were able to maintain & postulate that candid opinion during Wg-&-upwards filter boards (and indeed during OIC) then well-done for sticking to your guns. It’s a defendable perspective, but I think it’s not necessarily an overriding universal motivation.

Apart from anything else, if the NCO cadre (at Cadet or Staff level) were, in general, so execrable that everyone who previously served under (or with) them could only continue to serve in the organisation as their superiors: then there is something fundamentally-flawed about selection & promotion mechanisms &/or criteria within the formation for creating NCOs (or are you implying a similar issue also exists across broader society as a whole?)

But: I do understand nearly what you mean, and inevitably share part of the sentiment.


It’s a sentiment which certainly played a large part in my sister’s decision to go for a commission from SNCO’ service.

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Who’s telling you this?

For a question like this there’s no wrong answer, other than those that misunderstand what an officer or the organisation is. No board should criticise you for explaining why you want to be an officer just because that version doesn’t match their view.

As long as you can articulate your motivation there’s no reason at all that it’s “not good enough”.

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The text book answer is surely… “In time I want to command my own Squadron”.

Fixed that for you…


A motivation is the prime filter for commissioning. If they want to wear the uniform, boss people around or other self promoting reasons they are better off not bothering and we don’t want them.

It is, but it’s the candidate’s motivation they’re looking for, not some line from a book.

Better to be honest than to attempt to play bs bingo with corporate speak in the hope of baffling the boarding officers into thinking you’re one of them.

Which is why I’m asking OP who’s given them that feedback. If it’s coming from themselves, then it’s likely they just don’t think it sounds good enough. If it’s coming from other officers, then it’s potentially likely that OP isn’t articulating their desires well enough, rather than giving the “wrong” answer.

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Its 39 years since I was asked that question, and it was at OASC RAF Biggin Hill on selection for General Duties Pilot. The officer role was a bit different being a regular and, as we now can unfortunately say, a “real” officer (9 months at RAFC Cranwell on IOTC). My answer to that question was that my Sqn Cdr when I was a cadet had flown Short Stirling Bombers in WW2 and had been a great inspiration to me to go forward, get my CWO and go for RAF pilot. That is what I have done since in the ATC, with 631 VGS, 10 AEF and ATC Sqns.
So look at your Sqn Officers and take all of the various good attributes that they have and make one perfect and inspirational leader - that’s what you want to be!
Remember that the idea of a good instructor is to make that person or persons better than you - whilst I have never made it past Flt Lt I am glad to say that one of the cadets I taught to fly many years ago went on to Wg Cdr and was Red 1 - it gave me great happiness to salute him!


I chose to stay as a CI. I have run courses, trips, camps, and pretty much the Sqn when we have had a couple of useless COs…stay a proper volunteer. Once you are in uniform you are claiming pay…you are no longer a volunteer.

They don’t call it pay anymore … but it is as it’s taxable.

Be a proper volunteer. Let the greasy pole climbers run the Sqn…and have a wing supernumerary role…and burn themselves out in 4 years.

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Wannabeofficer Have you ran off with our cheese?

? What kind of question is that! :point_up:

Well generally forums are about conversation. Little difficult to have a conversation when one side of it is silent!

What reasons do you have at the moment for wanting to be an officer?

Cause this isn’t insulting at all. :roll_eyes::roll_eyes::roll_eyes: