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Public Affairs Officer

A Public Affairs Officer speaks to reporter from the media following the conclusion of a press conference on a joint force exercise.

More Information


  • Supervise the writing and delivery of press releases and reports and provide information to news media and civic organizations
  • Brief military personnel before they meet with the public and news media and schedule and conduct news conferences
  • Oversee the content and production of radio and television programs, newspapers, magazines and websites
  • Advise the operational Commander to shape vital decisions and communications with three main audiences: media, internal Navy and the public
  • Manage the work of enlisted personnel, including writers, photographers, videographers and graphic designers

Public Affairs Officers (PAOs) work with Enlisted personnel in the Mass Communication Specialist (MC) rating to accomplish their missions. Find out more about Enlisted opportunities as an MC here.

Work Environment

Public Affairs Officers may serve anywhere there is an audience—from aircraft carriers, to shoreside bases and installations, to the Pentagon and other high-profile locations around the world.

Training & Advancement

Prospective Public Affairs Officers must first attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Newport, RI, and then complete the Public Affairs Qualification Course at the Defense Information School in Fort Meade, MD, where they learn the fundamentals of public affairs, including military-media relations. This is followed by the intensive 10-day Public Affairs Expeditionary Course that is focused on the application of public affairs skills in the field.

This is one path toward becoming a Navy Officer—there are a variety of ways to join and serve in this leadership role. Find out more about the path toward becoming an officer now.

Promotion opportunities are regularly available but competitive and based on performance.

Post-Service Opportunities

Specialized training received and work experience gained in the course of service can lead to valuable credentialing and occupational opportunities in related fields in the civilian world.

Education Opportunities

Beyond professional credentials and certifications, Public Affairs Officers can advance their education by:

Find out more about additional education opportunities for Officers, including post-graduate school now.

Qualifications & Requirements

A four-year degree is required to work as a Public Affairs Officer. Candidates seeking this Officer position must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in a communications field, such as journalism, advertising, radio/TV, cinematography, speech, marketing, motion picture production, industrial relations or photojournalism.

All candidates must also be: U.S. citizens, willing to serve worldwide and qualify for sea duty.

General qualifications may vary depending upon whether you’re currently serving, whether you’ve served before or whether you’ve never served before.

Part-Time Opportunities

Serving part-time as a Navy Reserve Sailor, your duties will be carried out during your scheduled drilling and training periods. During monthly drilling, PAOs in the Navy Reserve typically work at a location close to their homes.

For Annual Training, PAOs may serve anywhere in the world, whether on a ship at sea or bases and installations on shore.

Take a moment to learn more about the general roles and responsibilities of Navy Reserve Sailors.

Most of what you do in the Navy Reserve is considered training. The basic Navy Reserve commitment involves training a minimum of one weekend a month (referred to as drilling) and two weeks a year (referred to as Annual Training) – or the equivalent of that.

Before receiving the ongoing professional training that comes with this job, initial training requirements must be met.

For current or former Navy Officers (NAVET): prior experience satisfies the initial leadership training requirement – so you will not need to go through Officer Training again.

For current or former Officers of military branches other than the Navy (OSVET), as well as for Officer candidates without prior military experience: Officer Candidates will be required to attend the Officer Development School (ODS) in Newport, RI. ODS is a five-week program that provides a comprehensive and intense introduction to the responsibilities of Navy Staff Corps Officers. Here, you will learn about the military structure of the U.S. Navy, its rich history of traditions and customs, leadership development and military etiquette. There may be an option for attendees to request to split the five-week program into two sessions.