Officer (The Salvation Army)

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An officer in The Salvation Army is a Salvationist who is an ordained minister of the Christian faith, but who fulfills many other roles not usually filled by clergy of other denominations. They do so having been trained, ordained and commissioned to serve and lead and given a quasi-military rank.

Candidacy and training[edit]

When applying to become a Salvation Army officer, strict acceptance guidelines must be adhered to before training can commence. Each 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 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.



United States of America

United Kingdom

Commissioning and posting[edit]

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[edit]

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.

Sources:[1] [2]

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 bar, all in gold, on velvet epaulettes
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", on velvet epaulettes
Colonel 1880 Active Reserved for territorial and international leaders Crest above bar with another bar above the "S"
Lieutenant-colonel Active Crest above bar
Major 1879 Active After 15 years of exemplary service, the officer is eligible to be promoted to the rank of major Crest
Captain 1877 Active After five years of exemplary service, the officer is eligible to be promoted to the rank of captain Two stars
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
Cadet 1880 Active A Salvation Army soldier who is undertaking training to become an officer at a Salvation Army college for officer training One (first year) or two (second year) red bars (on blue epaulettes / UK - on black epaulettes)
Envoy Active A non-commissioned officer who works for the Salvation Army in a ministry position
Sergeant Active A non-commissioned officer who works for the Salvation Army in a ministry position in the USA Southern territory Three white chevrons
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

Amendments to envoy and lieutenant rank[edit]

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. [3]

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rank explanations (incomplete)
  2. ^ Glossary of Terms
  3. ^