Indian Army Ranks and Insignia: How to Join the Indian Army?

December 21, 2023
Indian army ranks

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The Indian Army is a branch of the Indian Armed Forces that is responsible for training people to fight on land. There are numerous ways to get commissioned in the Indian Army. A candidate can join after passing the 12th class or after graduation. There are numerous officer ranks in the army under their authority.  

There are two types of commissions in the Indian Army, permanent and short service. A permanent commission involves service in the armed forces until retirement. Candidates can apply for permanent commission through entries like the NDA, IMA, and TES. The SSC (Short Service Commission) allows you to serve for ten years. Entries for it include TGC, JAG, and NCC special entries. 

This article will give an overview of the Indian Army Ranks and Insignia. It will also cover how to join the Indian army with or without exams.  

The Indian army upholds values of service, patriotism, and sacrifice. It is a voluntary service. All Indian citizens regardless of their caste, class, or religion can apply for it. Candidates, however, need to meet certain physical, medical, and educational specifications to qualify. 

Indian Army Ranks and Insignia  

The Indian army ranks may be in correspondence to the Western military and have both Indian and Western names. There are many army rank lists. 

Indian army officers’ ranks are classified into the following three categories: 

  • Commissioned Officers. 
  • Junior Commissioned Officers(JCOs). 
  • Other Ranks(Non-Commissioned Officers and Soldiers). 

The Indian army officers’ ranks depend on a candidate’s qualifications, performance and experience in a specific field. The posts of the Commissioned Officers fall under the Group A Service Officers. Meanwhile, the posts of Junior Commissioned Officers belong to the Group B Gazetted Officers.  

An army officer is in charge of a certain department or regime under them. They are responsible for the supervision and management of the allotted unit as per the rules and regulations. Every category has a unique Indian army rank and insignia.  

Commissioned Officers: Indian Military Ranks and Insignia   

Commissioned officers are leaders of the army who can give commands from anywhere. They have the responsibility of other ranks under their authority, A commissioned officer can be equated to All India services and Group A service officers. 

The total number of commissioned officers is 10. According to the military hierarchy in India, the highest rank in the Indian Army is Field Marshal, while the most junior ranked officer is Lieutenant. Based on the officer’s regiment, the dress logo for the different ranks of commissioned officers is in gold, black or silver. 

Check out this table of Indian army rank and insignia for Commissioned Officers.  

Rank of Commissioned Officer Insignia 
Field Marshall National emblem over a crossed sword and baton in a lotus blossom wreath. 
General  Crossed sword and baton with a star and national emblem. 
Lieutenant General Crossed sword and baton with the national emblem above. 
Major General Crossed sword and baton with the star above. 
Brigadier  Three stars in a triangle and National Emblem above. 
Colonel Two stars and the national emblem above. 
Lieutenant Colonel Crossed sword and baton with the star above. 
Major National Emblem. 
Captain Three stars in one line. 
Lieutenant Two stars in one line.  


Junior Commissioned Officers: Indian Military Ranks & Insignia 

Junior commissioned officers (JCO) are officers who have been promoted from the Non Comissioned Officers rank. They can be compared to the warrant officers in Western armies.  

Depending on a non-commissioned officer’s merit, level of seniority, and the vacancies available, they are promoted to the junior commissioned officer’s rank. They have supervisory roles. Also, they need to oversee the training, discipline, and welfare of the soldiers they command. 

Check out the table of Indian army rank and insignia for JCOs.  

Junior Commissioning Officer Insignia 
Subedar Major National Emblem 
Subedar Two stars in one line 
Naib Subedar One Star 

JCOs who hold the rank of Subedar and Naib Subedar work as platoon commanders in an infantry company on behalf of Lieutenants. They work closely with the commissioned officer. Meanwhile, JCOs who hold the rank of Subedar Major need to oversee the day-to-day management of the battalion. They are the chief advisors of the commanding officer. All ranks may refer to them as SM Sahab. 

Non-Commissioned Officers: Indian Military Ranks & Insignia 

Non-commissioned officers are below the commissioned officers and junior commissioned officers. They may be referred to as jawans or sepoys. They are the equivalent of sergeants or corporals in Western armies. Senior-most NCOs are generally promoted to become JCOs.  

Non-commissioned officers are senior-level soldiers that have been promoted to positions of responsibility. They are required to provide training to junior officers. They ensure that orders from commissioned officers are properly followed at the ground level. As per the Regiment or Corps pattern, NCOs are authorized to wear Chevron.  

Check out this table of Indian army rank and insignia for NCOs.  

Non-Commissioned Officer Insignia 
CQMH (Company Quarter Master Havildar) Three Strips and Ashoka Chakra on top. 
Havildar Three rank chevrons. 
Naik Two rank chevrons. 
Lance Naik Single rank chevrons. 
Sepoy Plain shoulder badge only. 

Joining the Indian Army as an Officer  

There are many ways for a candidate to become an army officer. Some army officer job examples are infantry, aviation, artillery, engineer, etc. Preparation should be done as per the officer post a candidate is applying for. Candidates must ensure they meet the eligibility criteria for the post.  

There are two types of commission in the Indian Army 

  • Permanent Commission. 
  • Short Service Commission. 

The Permanent Commission in the Indian Army allows officers to serve in the army until they reach retirement age.  NDA, CDS (IMA), TES, etc. are the entries under Permanent Commission 

The Indian Army’s Short Service Commission allows a candidate to serve up to ten years. On completion of ten years of service, they can either join a permanent commission, go for a service extension of 4 years, or may opt out. CDS (OTA), SSC Tech, NCC, and JAG are some of the entries under the Short Service Commission. 

There are two types of entries: 

  1. Written Entry 
  1. Direct Entry 

In written entries, candidates have to clear a written exam. Let’s have a look at the steps that a candidate needs to take to join the Indian army with or without exams.   

Also Read: Indian Army Salary 2022: Job Profile, pay scale, Allowances, and other benefits

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Steps to Join the Indian Army with Exam  

To become an officer in the Indian army, a candidate must complete a 10+2 education. The minimum aggregate should be 60%. After they have completed 10+2, they have the following options: 

NDA Entry  

1. Candidate needs to clear the NDA Entrance Exam

2. Those who clear the exam are required to go through a four-year training period which is divided into 3 years at NDA and 1 year at IMA.  

Army Cadet College (ACC) Entry 

1. Candidates need to clear a written test followed by a physical examination through SSB for ACC entry.  

2. On selection, candidates must complete a training of 3 years at ACC followed by a year of training at IMA.  

Combined Defense Services Entry 

  1. Candidates must pursue their undergraduate in any specialization to appear for the UPSC-CDS examination. This is followed by a physical examination. 
  1. On selection for OTA (Officer’s Training Academy), candidates will be trained for 49 weeks. 

Territorial Army (TA) Entry 

  1. Candidates need to take a written examination. Upon clearing it, they must qualify for the Preliminary Interview Board (PIB) interview, SSB interview, and a medical examination. 
  1. On selection, candidates must go through one month of basic training in the first year of commission. Then undergo two months of annual training camp every year including the first year and three months of post-commissioning training within the first two years at IMA Dehradun. 

Steps to Join the Indian Army Without Exam  

Direct Entries do not have a written exam. Candidates can directly go for the SSB Interview. The direct entries are as follows: 

Technical Entry Scheme (TES) Entry 

  1. For TES entry, candidates must have cleared the 10+2 examination. It includes a minimum aggregate of 70% marks in Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics. 
  1. On clearing the SSB interview and medical examination, candidates are required to go through four years of pre-commission training. It is followed by one year of post-commission training.  

Technical Graduates Course Entry (TGC) 

  1. For TGC entry, candidates who are in their final year of engineering can apply. They will be shortlisted based on the cut-offs announced for different streams.  
  1. On clearing the SSB interview and the Medical examination, the chosen candidates will have to go through one-year pre-commissioned training at the IMA, Dehradun. 

National Cadet Corps Special Entry (NCC) 

  1. For NCC entry, candidates must be a graduate with an NCC “C” Certificate. They must have a minimum percentage of 50% in their graduation and a minimum grade of ‘B’ on their NCC “C” certificate. 
  1. All graduates with an NCC “C” Certificate can apply for the NCC Special Entry Scheme. They need to have a minimum grade of ‘B’ on their NCC ‘C’ certificate with a minimum graduation mark of 50 percent. 

Short Service Commission Technical Entry (SSC Tech) 

  1. For SSC tech entry, a candidate must be a technical graduate.  
  1. On successfully clearing the SSB interview and Medical examination, selected candidates must go through a 49-week pre-commissioning training at OTA, Chennai. 

Judge Advocate General Entry (JAG) 

  1. For JAG entry, a candidate must have a law degree from a recognized university with a minimum of 55%. 
  1. On clearing the SSB interview and medical examination, selected candidates are required to undergo training for 49 weeks at Chennai’s Officers Training Academy (OTA). 

University Entry Scheme Entry (UES) 

  • For UES entry, a candidate must be in their final year of engineering for a Permanent Commission. 
  • On clearing the SSB interview and medical examination, selected candidates must go through one year of training at the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun.  

Also Read: Upcoming Government Exams

Indian Army Post Lists and Recruitment: Final Takeaway 

The Indian army offers a prestigious career as an Indian army officer. There are various ways to get recruited into the Indian army by applying through the direct entry and written entry. On becoming an Indian army officer, a candidate is eligible to be promoted based on performance, merit, and experience. All categories of officers have a distinct Indian army rank and insignia. 

Evaluate numerous career choices to choose the right career path for yourself. Dive in to our guide on Career Advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many ranks are in Indian Army? 

Indian army ranks are classified into three categories- Commissioned Officers, Junior Commissioned Officers(JCOs), and Other Ranks(Non-Commissioned Officers and Soldiers). The total number of commissioned officers is 10. 

What are the ranks in the Army?  

The ranks of commissioned officers in the Indian army are Field Marshall, General, Lieutenant General, Major General, Brigadier, Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel, Major, Captain, and Lieutenant. 

Who is Number 1 in Indian Army? 

According to the military hierarchy, the top rank in the Indian army is Field Marshal which is a ceremonial or wartime rank. It is a five-star general rank and the highest rank an officer can obtain.

Which army rank is best?   

The best rank an officer can obtain in the Indian army is Field Marshal. Till now, it has only been conferred on two officers- Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw and Field Marshal KM Cariappa.

What are the requirements to join Indian Army?  

The requirement for joining the Indian army depends on the post you’re applying for. You can apply through entrance exams or get direct entry through recruitment rallies or campus placements. The minimum educational qualification to join the Indian army is Matric/10th/SSLC or equivalent with 45% marks in aggregate. 

Is it easy to join Indian Army?  

Candidates who apply for the Indian army have to go through a rigorous selection process which may involve a written test, interview, and medical examination. They also have to go through intensive training before they can join the Indian army. 

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