Until 2015, Sailors from four different ratings could work toward becoming a Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) Surface Repair Technician: Hull Maintenance Technician, Damage Controlman, Machinery Repairman, and Molder.

Of these, Molder was by far the oldest. It was first established in 1917, but after just a dozen years it was disestablished, only to be brought back again in 1943 during World War II. More than fifty years would pass before the Molder rating was finally disestablished for good, eliminated at the same time the Patternmaker rating was abolished.

The other three ratings are still alive and well, but Sailors setting their sights on achieving the CWO Designator of 714x as a Repair Technician can expect to put in quite a few hours before they’ll get the opportunity. To be eligible to be selected as a Chief Warrant Officer (CWO2), Sailors must have reached at least the grade of Chief Petty Officer (CPO) and be serving on active duty, with at least twelve years of total service under their belts and a recommendation from their Cos. In the Machinery Repairman rating, the average length of time it takes a Sailor to reach CPO is fourteen years; for Hull Maintenance Technician, it’s thirteen years; and a dozen years for Damage Controlman.

Of course, just reaching CPO pay grade (E7) doesn’t mean an instant move to CWO—but after seeing the difference in base pay many Sailors will wish that it did. In 2016, the base pay for an E7 with fourteen years of service was $4,178.70, compared to $4,860.90 for CWO2 (the Navy does not have a W-1 pay grade).
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