Difference Between NCO and Commissioned Officer

NCO and commissioned officers are two positions that army officials are given based on their competence and eligibility. Both have quite a few differences between them.


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NCO vs Commissioned Officer

The difference between NCO and CO is that NCO is a term given to officials who have not earned their commission. This means that they have been promoted from lower ranks to their position of authority. On the other hand, commissioned officers are those officials who have directly taken up the position by receiving a commission.

NCO vs Commissioned Officer

NCO stands for non-commissioned officer. These are officials who are the primary and most visible leaders for military soldiers. They work directly under commissioned officers and ensure that the orders are being followed on ground level.

They are appointed by the issuance of a formal document by the head of state. Their responsibility is to command anything from a company, division, battalion, brigade or even the entire army.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonNCOCommissioned Officer
PositionNCO is a senior level officer but is ranked below commissioned officers.Commissioned officers hold the highest rank in the army.
CategoryNCOs belong to Class-II or Group B category of officials.Commissioned officers belong to Class-I or Group A category of officials.
CollaringNCOs earn their position by being promoted from lower ranks.Commissioned officers earn their position by a commission from the head of state.
Major DutiesTraining junior soldiers and making sure that commission officers’ orders are followed at ground level.Management of listed troops and giving tasks, assignments, and instructions to NCOs.
TrainingNCOs undergo leadership and management training.Their training involves leadership, management, service-specific coaching and combat training.

What is NCO?

Their responsibility is to supervise within the field of trade speciality. For this, they receive rigorous leadership and management training.

While senior NCOs are given the responsibility of supervision, NCOs at lower levels are not yet considered as part of management. Regardless, they are considered the ‘backbone’ of the army.

In maritime forces, NCOs are named petty officers and chief petty officers. This status usually means that the official is a seaman, airman, fireman and so on.

They are enlisted in ranks that are referred to as privates and airmen. In countries where service in the army is compulsory, NCOs are called professional soldiers and not officials.

What is Commissioned Officer?

The formal document is referred to as ‘commission’. These officers typically make up around one-eighth to one-fifth of the entire armed forces.

The training given to such officers involves education in leadership and management. They are also given service-specific coaching and combat training. Many countries even require the officials to have a certain university degree.

In some cases, civilian professionals with reputable credentials are often listed as commissioned officials. They are directly placed in their position, but they generally cannot command authority outside of service-specific branches.

They were directly commissioned. Their responsibility was to supervise and carry out material production for the army.

Main Differences Between NCO and Commissioned Officer

  1. The responsibilities of NCOs include training junior soldiers and making sure that commission officers’ orders are followed at ground level. On the other hand, the duties of commissioned officers include management of listed troops and giving tasks, assignments, and instructions to NCOs.
  2. NCOs undergo leadership and management training whereas commissioned officers undergo leadership, management, service-specific and combat training.


  1. https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/citations/AD1117457
  2. https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/citations/ADA226543
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