Star Trek Expanded Universe

A line officer is a historic rank and title. It refers to officers that are eligible for commands. There is a distinction between line officers and staff officers.

Line officers are officers that have specialized training for command. These officers generally occupy fields of study such as operations, tactical, and engineering, as opposed to staff officers who specialize in services as judge advocates, doctors and science officers. During critical operations, staff officers are sometimes subordinate to line officers regardless of rank.

Staff officers can be eligible for command as line officers after completing certain qualifications, one example is the bridge officer's test, required for the ranks of commander and above.

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