Promotions to E-2 and E-3
Also like the other services, promotions in the Navy to E-2 and E-3 are pretty much automatic, Time-in-Rate (TIR) [TIR is the date from which the member’s total service in paygrade is considered to have commenced for the purposes of advancing to the next higher paygrade], assuming that the individual does his/her job and stays out of trouble.
• E-1 to E-2 - Nine months TIR.
• E-2 to E-3 - Nine months TIR.
No exam is required for advancement to E-2. However, commands have the option of administering E-3 Apprenticeship Exams for some ratings. Apprenticeship examinations consist of 150 questions. 100 questions are on the specific apprenticeship (job) and 50 questions are on general military subjects. Even so, promotions to E-3 are not competitive. The exams are pass/fail. Those who achieve a passing score can be promoted, those who don't receive a passing score will have to try again.
Promotions to E-4 through E-7
Promotions to the rates of Petty Officer Third Class (E-4) through Chief Petty Officer (E-7) are competitive.
This means that personnel within each rating (job) compete with each other for a limited number of promotion vacancies.
Advancement examinations for E-4 to E-6 are scheduled to be conducted in March and September of each year:
E-6 – First Tuesday in March, First Thursday in September
E-5 – Second Tuesday in March, Second Thursday in September
E-4 – Third Tuesday in March, Third Thursday in September
Advancement exams for E7 are scheduled to be conducted annually on the third Thursday of January.
The Commanding Officer (CO) / Officer In charge (OIC) recommendation is the most important advancement eligibility requirement, and the sole source for that recommendation is the member’s most recent evaluation report. This recommendation, however, can be withheld or withdrawn, should circumstances warrant (a CO’s mast, for example).
Next, to be eligible for promotion consideration, the sailor would have to meet the minimum Time in Rate (TIR) requirements for promotion to the next paygrade:
• Petty Officer Third Class (E-4) - 6 months TIR
• Petty Officer Second Class (E-5) - 12 months TIR
• Petty Officer First Class (E-6) - 36 months TIR
• Chief Petty Officer (E-7) - 36 months TIR
Additionally, for promotion to the grade of E-4, Seamen (E-3s) must first be “rated”, either by having successfully graduated from the "A-School" (job school) applicable to their rating (job), or by becoming a “designated striker“; having significant skills gained on-the-job training (OJT) experience, coupled with rate change authorization from Naval Education and Training Professional Development and Technology Center (NETPDTC).
Before an E-3 can be advanced to E-4, they must complete the Petty Officer Indoctrination Course.
For promotion to E-6, Petty Officer Second Class's (E-5s) must first complete the P02 Leadership Training Course Continuum. For promotion to E-6, eligible E-6s must complete the P01 Leadership Training Course Continuum.
Before an E-6 can be frocked or advanced to E-7, they must first complete the Chief Petty Officer Indoctrination Course.
Candidates for E-5 & E-6 may be eligible for a 12-month waiver of TIR in some circumstances, but such a waiver is good only for the exam they are currently taking.
So, once all of the above criteria are met, how does the Navy decide who gets promoted?
The Navy uses promotion points that they call "Final Multiple Score" (FMS) system, which considers the whole person by calculating a candidate's performance, experience, and knowledge into the individual's final multiple score.
Performance is shown in a person's day-to-day performance, work ethic, achievements, and so forth, and is documented in his or her performance evaluations. Experience is indicated by elements such as Time in Service (TIS) and Time In Rate (TIR)). Knowledge is reflected as examination performance. Candidates may also earn PNA (passed but not advanced) Points that are calculated into the FMS. PNA points are awarded to candidates who passed the exam in previous years but were not advanced, and in some cases, for a relatively high performance mark average (PMA).