Air National Guard graduates first class from Maxwell's Officer Training School
National Guard

National Guard OCS Guide

The National Guard counts on the cultivation of well-rounded leaders.

Commissioned officers often start from the bottom and work their way up to the top to leadership positions.

Whatever the path to a commission, training is essential.

Officer Candidate School (OCS) is a training program that is as mentally challenging as it is physically.

After OCS, you are prepared to lead in the National Guard.

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#1. Air National Guard or Army National Guard?

officer candidates enrolled in the Virginia Guard’s Officer Candidate School receive their commissions

The Air National Guard (ANG) and the National Guard (NG) have plenty of overlapping similarities.

However, they each serve their communities and nation differently.

Depending on your personal goals, you may find yourself more suited for one or the other.

Fortunately, you can talk to recruiters for both to discover which National Guard aligns with your personal goals.

There are several branches of the armed forces under the umbrella of the Department of Defense.

The Army National Guard is attached to the Army, while the Air National Guard is attached to the Air Force.

Both are the reserve components of their branches of the service and operate under their state’s authority.

For the purposes of creating unbiased information, we will include information for both regarding Officer Candidate Schools.

Related ArticleArmy OCS Guide: Preparing For Army Officer Training

#2. What is the National Guard Officer Candidate School (OCS)?

Officer Candidate School is a leadership program.

Those who manage to complete the course are in a fantastic position to meet the demands of effective leadership.

#3. National Guard OCS Basic Requirements

Newly commissioned second lieutenants sing the Army song at the conclusion of the graduation ceremony

Both branches of the National Guard have requirements before you are considered as a candidate.

Army National Guard

You must be between the ages of 18 and not yet 35 when enlisting in the National Guard, and OCS must be completed before your 42nd birthday.

However, if you have prior service in the military, you may enlist after 35.

Also, you must have 60 semester hours towards earning your degree.

Furthermore, you must have 90 credits by the time you receive your commission.

Another requirement for OCS is a score of at least 110 in the General Technical (GT) section of the ASVAB test.

Other basic requirements include security clearance, the completion of Basic Combat Training, and an appropriate physical.

Air National Guard

Other than the ANG’s basic requirements for all members of the Guard, there are officer requirements, as well.

All candidates must be US Citizens and undergo appropriate medical screenings and security clearance.

Also, Officer Candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree.

You must be between the ages of 17 and 39.

However, if you have prior service in the military, you have some leeway with the age rule.

Lastly, recently the Air Force changed the age limits.

Therefore, enlisted members over the age of 39 may be considered if they can serve 10 years in the service before retiring.

Related Article Does the National Guard Pay For College? 

#4. How Long is National Guard OCS?

Depending on the National Guard branch you go for, the length is different. Also, there are various options in the Guard to attend OCS.

Army National Guard

The Army National Guard has three options.

You can attend your state’s Regional Training Institute over one weekend a month for approximately 16 weeks. Also, this option requires two periods where you attend for two weeks at a time.

Furthermore, you might consider the National Guard Bureau Accelerated OCS. The accelerated program is eight weeks in a row, seven days a week.

Lastly, there is a Federal Officer Candidate School in Fort Benning, Georgia, that is 14 weeks long.

Air National Guard

Officer Training School (OTS) is nine and a half weeks long.

This OTS is conducted at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

#5. How Are Future Officers Evaluated?

Future officers in the National Guard are evaluated in many areas.

One area is physical fitness, as candidates must practice combat scenarios effectively.

Also, candidates are evaluated on their leadership skills and abilities to follow procedure.

Mostly, there are many overlapping areas for both branches of the National Guard, where candidates are taught to utilize a variety of skills to use as leaders.

Related ArticleBest Air Force Officer Jobs

#6. National Guard Officer Responsibilities

Army National Guard welcomes 14 new lieutenants to its ranks

In both the Air and Army National Guard, officers are in positions of authority.

You will lead troops, and you are empowered in making critical decisions that impact your troops and your community.

The Army and the Air National Guard have a variety of career opportunities for commissioned officers.

Your specific officer responsibilities depend primarily on your area of expertise.

Related ArticleNavy vs. Air Force

#7. How Do You Apply to National Guard OCS?

Before being considered, you must apply as a candidate.

Army National Guard

There are two different avenues to take for the application to the OCS thought the National Guard.


If you are a civilian and applying, you have different steps to take.

You must score 110 on the general knowledge section of the ASVAB test.

Also, you need to fill out the SF-86 form to initiate your security clearance.

Also, you need to include personal information such as job and education history along with transcripts.

Furthermore, personal references are necessary.

Finally, be prepared to show proof of identity with your birth certificate, social security card, along with other documents.

Already in the Service?

If you are already in the service, you have a different path.

First, you need to talk to your commanding officer about your plans.

Also, you need to prove you are physically fit.

You will need to complete advanced individual training and sit with a board to determine if you are a candidate.

Air National Guard

The application for becoming an officer in the Air National Guard is similar to that of the Army National Guard.

First, you must fill out an application and evaluation for the training.

Also, you must include your resume and take the Air Force Qualifying Test (AFOQT).

After the test, you will interview with a selection board.

Once approved, you would attend the candidate school and continue to a technical school to learn about your job.

#8. What Will I Learn at National Guard OCS?

The instruction in both the Army and the Air National Guard has many similarities regarding finding the highest quality leaders from the group.

However, there is some difference in the courses.

Army National Guard

For the traditional 16-month OCS program where candidates attend weekends and a couple of two-week sections during the course, there are four phases.

Phase Zero is the four drill weekends that prepare candidates for the program.

Phase I is the 15-day annual training typically held in the summer.

Also, Phase II is one weekend a month for the next 13 months.

Lastly, Phase III is another 15-day annual training tour that ends with graduation and the officer commission.

The accelerated program is typically for members who are already enlisted members of the military.

The accelerated program has a failure rate of 40 percent, meaning it is very challenging.

Related ArticleNavy Officer Candidate School (OCS) Guide

Air National Guard

The Air National Guard uses phases to separate their training, as well.

Phase 1 focuses on teamwork and discipline. This is the phase where you learn to work as a team and demonstrate emerging leadership skills.

Phase 2 explores the continued development of the fundamentals of leadership and military management.

Also, in this phase, you learn Air Force history, combat skills, and cross-cultural skills.

Phase 3 is the hands-on practice of everything learning so far in training. You will undergo evaluations to determine your leadership abilities at this point.

Phase 4 is the final phase of training, and it puts you in a position to move from a training environment to your job.

At the end of Phase 4 is the graduation ceremony.


There are many roads to receiving a commission into the Air or Army National Guards.

For some, their commission is direct.

However, many officers work their way up from the bottom, which makes this National Guard OCS Guide so helpful.

While many aspects of Officer Training Schools are different between the Army and Air Guards, there are many similarities.

Both programs prepare enlisted members to perform their jobs as leaders in the military.

The training is competitive, but this helps separate the best leaders from a group of exceptional service members.


See Also

Marine OCS Guide

Army Reserves vs. National Guard

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Learn more about the National Guard Officer Candidate School (OCS), including the basic requirements, how to apply, and more.
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