Officer (The Salvation Army)

Candidacy and training

When applying to become a Salvation Army officer, strict acceptance guidelines must be adhered to before training can commence. Each Salvation Army territory will have similar conditions that applicants must fulfill prior to entry and include the following, they must:

  • Believe they are called by God to full-time ministry, specifically officership.
  • Be active soldiers in their local Salvation Army corps.
  • Receive a recommendation from the commanding officer of that corps.
  • Be endorsed by the Salvation Army Divisional Candidates' Board.
  • Receive satisfactory references from their families, friends, and peers.
  • Attend an assessment conference weekend which includes a number of in-depth interviews with various assessors.
  • Be accepted for training by the Territorial Candidates' Board, and territorial commander.

While attending a college for officer training, the training participants are referred to as "cadets". The length of training is normally twenty-two months, but a special dispensation may allow cadets to be commissioned after a shorter period, based on prior experience or training. Once this training is complete, the cadets are commissioned.

Officer training centres are located around the world.

Australia/New Zealand


United States of America

United Kingdom

Commissioning and posting

Commissioning sees the cadets promoted to the rank of lieutenant and formalizes the cadets' first posting (commonly referred to as "marching orders"). These orders can send the new lieutenants anywhere in the territory, and sometimes even see them posted to other territories that could involve overseas service.

Officers have the opportunity to serve within the Salvation Army in many different capacities, and may be posted at a corps, divisional or territorial headquarters, the training college, supplies & purchasing, a recovery and rehabilitation centre, as a chaplain in courts, prisons and hospitals, a street level outreach centre, a new corps (known as an "outpost" or "plant"), or any number of other need specific ministries.

In years past, officers were given "farewell orders" every two to five years when they were reassigned to different posts. Appointments of at least five years are now commonplace.

The rank structure and uniform

Officers hold ranks throughout their service and into retirement, and their rank is reflected in their uniform. The uniform of an officer is much like that of a soldier and, like a soldier's, is defined by the region in which the person is serving. The consistent difference between the two uniforms is that the officer's uniform has red epaulettes, while a soldier's epaulettes are black or blue. Officers' epaulettes feature the Salvation "S" in silver, as well as another insignia to designate rank. These insignias may be sewn into the epaulette, or be separate metal pins attached to the epaulettes.


Epaulet Rank Date adopted Current status Description Insignia / epaulettes
General 1878 Active The worldwide leader of The Salvation Army, elected by the most senior Salvation Army officers in the world Crest with laurel leaves above gold bar on burgundy epaulet
Chief of the Staff 1878 Active The second-in-command to the general appointed by the general Crest with laurel leaves above silver bar on burgundy epaulet
Commissioner 1880 Active The Chief of the Staff of The Salvation Army, the leader of a territory, or international secretaries are also usually given the rank Crest with laurel leaves above bar with another bar above the "S", upon burgundy epaulet
Brigadier 1880 Discontinued Formally used to signify 35 years of service. Discontinued in the 1970s, although still used by anyone who earned the rank before its termination. Two stars and a Crest upon a red epaulet
Colonel 1880 Active Reserved for territorial and international leaders Crest above bar with another bar above the "S" upon a red epaulet
Lieutenant-colonel Active Appointed to Salvation Army officers on merit by the General Crest above bar upon red epaulets
Major 1879 Active After 15 years of exemplary service, the officer is eligible to be promoted to the rank of major Crest upon red epaulet
Captain 1877 Active After five years of exemplary service, the officer is eligible to be promoted to the rank of captain Two stars upon red epaulet
Auxiliary Captain Active Serve as officers but are beyond the minimum age for training. Auxiliary Captains never hold the ranks of Lieutenant and Cadet, and they may be promoted to Captain after five years. This rank is used in certain territories only, most notably the Southern Territory of the USA.[3] Blank red epaulet
Lieutenant 1879 Discontinued (2001)
reinstated (2008)
Following successful term at college for officer training, the cadet is commissioned with the rank of lieutenant One star upon red epaulet
Cadet-Lieutenant Active This rank is rare; it is given to a cadet who is sent into the field as an officer before graduating training. Two red bars (upon blue epaulet / UK - on black epaulettes)[4]
2nd Year Cadet 1880 Active A Salvation Army soldier who is undertaking training to become an officer at a Salvation Army college for officer training Two (second year) red bars (upon blue epaulet / UK - upon black epaulet)
1st Year Cadet 1880 Active A Salvation Army soldier who is undertaking training to become an officer at a Salvation Army college for officer training One red bar (upon blue epaulet / UK - upon black epaulet)
Varies Envoy/Auxiliary-Lieutenant Active A non-commissioned officer who works for the Salvation Army in a ministry position Varies by territory
Sergeant Active A non-commissioned officer who works for the Salvation Army in a ministry position in the USA Southern territory Three white chevrons upon a blue epaulet
Candidate Active A person undergoing assessment for Salvation Army officership or envoyship Candidate's pin worn on the left side of the tunic above the heart

Other notable non-officers ranks (in no particular order):[5]

Epaulet Rank Description Insignia / epaulettes
Corps Sergeant Major The lead local officer position, somewhat similar to a chief deacon or elder Blue Epaulette
Young People Sergeant Major Young People’s Sergeant Major – responsible for the youth programs of the corps Blue Epaulette
Bandmaster In charge of the corps band Blue epaulette with two white bars
Songster Leader In charge of the corps songsters Blue epaulette with two yellow bars (varies by territory)

Amendments to envoy and lieutenant rank

After a lengthy discussion with other Salvation Army leaders, General Shaw Clifton announced in November 2007 that the rank of lieutenant would be reinstated on March 1, 2008. All cadets are now commissioned as lieutenants for a period of five years. The rank of cadet-lieutenant was discontinued on the same date, but was reinstated in the USA Southern territory in June 2014.[6]

All officers serving as lieutenants in the UK Territory now receive the rank of territorial envoy (as opposed to divisional envoy). Territorial envoys are soldiers who wish to work as non-commissioned officers for a limited time, usually three years. This replaced the rank of envoy and auxiliary-captain. Other territories have made other ranks to reflect this status such as feldsergeant in Germany; sergeant-major' in the Ukraine; envoy in Russia and corpsenvoy in the Netherlands. In US Central they are simply envoys and in the US Southern territory they are sergeants.

Corporate officers

In some jurisdictions officials may also have legal status as the officers of corporations associated with Salvation Army organizations. For example in the United States,[7]

The national commander is the chairperson of the board of all Salvation Army corporations in the United States of America; the territorial commander is the president and chief executive officer and the territorial chief secretary is the vice president of all Salvation Army corporations in each territory. The board of trustees/directors of each corporation has the responsibility of management.

Manual of Advisory Organizations and Articles of Organization (2015 revision)

See also


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