Guide: How To Become a Lieutenant in the Indian Army

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The Army is the largest component of India's defence forces, and it includes cavalry, infantry, artillery, sappers, commandos, engineers and medical services. The Army classifies its officers into commissioned and non-commissioned officers. A lieutenant in the Indian Army is the first rank as a commissioned officer. In this article, we examine how to become a lieutenant in the Indian Army and share details about the selection process and qualifications required for the role.

How to become a lieutenant in the Indian Army

There are five paths to becoming a lieutenant in the Indian Army. The eligibility criteria, educational qualifications and age limit required for each may vary. To become a lieutenant in the Indian Army, you can choose one of the following five paths based on your age and qualification:

1. Take the UPSC exam and join NDA after 10+2

If you are studying in class 10+2 or if you have just completed 10+2, you can choose this path. Follow these steps to become a lieutenant in the Indian Army through NDA:

  • Check aggregate board exam marks, age limit and physical requirements to verify your eligibility.

  • Look out for UPSC NDA exam notifications in June and November.

  • Submit your application.

  • Prepare for the offline UPSC examination, which has two papers - Mathematics and General Ability Test.

  • If you clear the written test, you can begin preparing for a five-day Services Selection Board (SSB) interview where they assess you for psychological aptitude and general intelligence.

  • If you clear the SSB interview, you can appear for the medical examination in a military hospital to check if you meet the prescribed physical, vision and general health requirements.

  • Check the NDA website to see the selection status.

If you are selected, you undergo a three-year training programme in NDA. In the first two and a half years, candidates undergo combined training. The last six months of training are for the specific service that you choose to enter. If you choose to join the army, you receive basic physical, mental and endurance training required for an army officer. At the end of three years, you receive a BA or BSc degree and then proceed to IMA for further training of one year. After completing the training there, you are granted a permanent commission and inducted as a lieutenant.

2. Follow Technical Entry Scheme after 10+2 in the science stream

If you are pursuing the science stream in class 12 or have completed it, you may qualify for the Technical Entry Scheme (TES). The Indian Army usually issues notifications for the TES course during May or June and October or November of every year. They select male candidates between 16.5 years to 19.5 years who have cleared the science stream in their 10+2 exams with 70% marks. There is no written exam for TES entry, and selection is purely merit-based.

If you pass the initial screening, you can attend a five-day SSB interview and medical test. If you clear all stages and are selected, you receive one-year basic military training at the Officers' Training Academy or OTA, Gaya. Subsequently, you receive training in the College of Military Engineering, Military College of Telecommunication Engineering or Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering. After successful completion of the course, candidates earn an engineering degree and are granted a permanent commission as a lieutenant.

3. Take the Combined Defence Services (CDS) Examination

Many candidates decide to join the army during or after graduation. This path is ideal for such candidates. Clearing the Combined Defence Service (CDS) Examination and joining the IMA (Indian Military Academy) results in a permanent commission. Likewise, clearing the CDS exam and joining the OTA (Officers Training Academy) results in a short-service commission post. Follow these steps to become a lieutenant in the Indian Army after direct entry into IMA/OTA after graduation:

  • Clear the CDS exam, which is an offline examination with objective type questions on English and elementary mathematics problems.

  • Prepare for a five-day SSB interview where officials assess you for psychological aptitude and intelligence.

  • Appear for the medical examination in a military hospital to check if you meet the army's prescribed physical standards, vision and general health requirements.

  • If you successfully clear the CDS IMA exam, you receive training for 18 months in various aspects of war, weaponry and leadership. After successful completion of training in IMA, you are granted a permanent commission as a lieutenant.

  • If you successfully clear the CDS OTA exam, you receive training for 49 weeks in various aspects of war, weapons and leadership. After successful completion of the training in OTA, you are granted a short service commission as a lieutenant.

4. Take the University Entry Scheme for engineering graduates

If you are between 18 and 24 years and are in your third year of engineering, or between 19 and 25 years and in your final year of engineering, you can become a lieutenant under the University Entry Scheme. There is no written examination. Apart from initial screening, clearing the SSB interview is the main criteria for selection through this path. Follow these steps to become a lieutenant through the University Entry Scheme:

  • Look out for the UES recruitment notifications in May.

  • Submit your application.

  • Prepare for a four-day SSB interview as there is no written exam under UES.

  • If you are selected, appear for the medical examination.

  • Track the merit list after completing all stages.

  • If selected, you receive a one-year training at IMA, after which you are permanently commissioned, in the rank of a lieutenant.

5. Take the Technical Graduate Course after an engineering degree

This path to becoming a lieutenant is ideal for those pursuing an engineering degree. You can apply for this course if you are unmarried and between 20 and 27 years of age. You may be in the final year of an engineering course or may have completed a degree course in a relevant stream. Follow these steps if you want to become a lieutenant in the Indian Army through the Technical Graduate Course (TGC):

  • Look out for the TGC recruitment notification in May or November.

  • Submit your application.

  • Prepare for a four-day SSB interview, as there is no written exam under TGC.

  • If you are selected, appear for the medical examination.

  • Track the merit list after completing all stages.

  • If you are selected, you can complete a one-year training in IMA, after which you are granted a permanent commission as a lieutenant in the Indian Army.

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What is a lieutenant?

In the Indian armed services, a lieutenant is the starting rank for a commissioned officer. A lieutenant is a Government of India gazetted official who may be a permanent or a short-service commissioned officer. They usually manage a team of 30 to 40 non-commissioned and junior commissioned officers (JCOs).

Related: What Is a Commissioned Officer? (With Ranks and Duties)

What are the three premier officer training institutions of the Indian Army?

The Indian Army has three main institutes to train new recruits who successfully clear the selection process to become officers. Since lieutenant is the first rank of an officer after they complete the training programme, candidates enter the armed forces in this rank. The three premier institutes that train successful recruits to become lieutenants are National Defence Academy (NDA) in Khadakwasla, Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun and the Officers' Training Academy (OTA) in Gaya and Chennai.

How much does a lieutenant in the Indian Army make?

During training at the IMA, the fixed stipend of a trainee is ₹70,541 per month. After commission, a lieutenant's salary is at Level 10, which is the first level in an officer's pay scale in the Armed Forces. The average base salary of a lieutenant is ₹12,94,951 per year.

Related: How Much Does a Para Commando Make? (With Perks and Benefits)

What are the allowances and perks for a lieutenant?

Apart from their basic salary, a lieutenant is eligible for many allowances. While some are common for all central government employees, the army gives lieutenants some allowances on the basis of their role, rank and location. Some of the allowances that a lieutenant is eligible for are:

  • dearness allowance

  • hardship allowance

  • high altitude allowance

  • kit maintenance allowance

  • dress allowance

  • flying allowance (for army pilots)

  • Siachen allowance

  • transport allowance

What is the scope of promotion for a lieutenant?

Officers working in the Indian Army have good scope for professional advancement. A permanently commissioned lieutenant can grow to the highest rank of the Indian Army over the course of their career. Designations after promotion in increasing order of hierarchy are:

  • captain

  • major

  • lieutenant colonel

  • colonel

  • brigadier

  • major general

  • lieutenant general

  • general

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Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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