Warrant officers and commissioned officers in the United States military act in different leadership capacities.

The United States military, with the exception of the Air Force, has two distinct groups of officers--warrant and commissioned. These two types of officers both serve in leadership capacities but maintain widely different skill sets.

Primary duties

In general, commissioned officers are responsible for acting in staff and command positions in more of a general leadership role. Warrant officers, meanwhile, focus on becoming experts in their career fields and do not take on high-level planning responsibilities.


As the highest ranked members of the military, commissioned officers are required by all services to hold a bachelor's degree. Warrant officers, meanwhile, need only a high school degree to be eligible for appointment because of their limited leadership role.


As their name suggests, commissioned officers are granted authority over subordinates by a presidential commission. Warrant officers, meanwhile, are appointed by their individual service upon entry and only gain a presidential commission upon promotion to chief warrant officer two (W-2).


In the United States military, commissioned officers hold authority over all service members, minus other commissioned officers of a higher rank. This includes warrant officers, who are still ranked above all enlisted members.


The primary job of a warrant officer is to become proficient at a certain job and to become the go-to source of information for all things concerning his career. Commissioned officers, meanwhile, engage in more nonspecific leadership roles and are required to know less about many different fields rather more about one.