I realize we've seen an admiral once wearing a gold uniform in Deep Space 9. However, are officers in the operations division limited to Lt. Commander, or do they have to switch to command to make Commander and above? Examples include Data, Geordi, Eddington, etc.

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    Just to look at real life for a minute, I think the officer in charge of the Navy Corps of Engineers in a Vice Admiral, or maybe a Rear Admiral. Sep 21, 2015 at 12:30
  • Hello. It's been a while since you've asked this question and I think that my answer addresses it sufficiently. Would you therefore please consider accepting it? If it's not satisfactory, please do let me know and I'll be happy to modify it accordingly. Nov 12, 2015 at 5:29

2 Answers 2


Yes they can!

The list of Starfleet Commanders shows that we do have some officers who are in Operations but have the rank of 'Commander'. Those mentioned on that list in the TNG era are:

Others from pre-TNG era include:

Going through that list I must confess that the majority of Commanders were in the Command or Sciences divisions and far fewer were in Operations, but officers in the Operations Division can definitely be promoted to Commander and remain in Operations.

  • Minor quibble: Chekov & Kyle were in the sciences division as commanders.
    – Politank-Z
    Feb 10, 2016 at 21:28
  • Do these characters actually hold the rank of Commander, or are they Lieutenant Commanders who are just referred to as "Commander" as a short hand?
    – T.J.L.
    Oct 3, 2019 at 19:34
  • Scott achieved Captain, yet remained ops.
    – OrangeDog
    Nov 7, 2019 at 16:33
  • @T.J.L. all Commanders. You can check the insignia.
    – OrangeDog
    Nov 7, 2019 at 16:35
  • @StopHarmingMonica I don't doubt the possibility, but that's actually the exact reason I was asking. For example, the Memory Alpha picture for the very first one on the list doesn't clearly show the insignia that I can see.
    – T.J.L.
    Nov 7, 2019 at 16:38

In a word, yes.

There is no cannon that specifically states there is maximum rank based on job class.

I would imagine that an officer in any field is capable of reaching the upper ranks. A great example of this comes from ST:TOS and its movies.

Montgomery Scott held the rank of captain and he is an engineer. In fact, this character had command of a ship (USS Janolan).

Spock held the rank of captain as well and he was a science officer and 1st Officer of the USS Enterprise.

Some people believe that a Starfleet officer must change his/her designator specifically to "command" (red uniform); however, I do not believe this is true because when Worf was promoted to Lt. Commander and given a red uniform. He was a security officer and then became a Tactical Operations Officer.

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    Spock was sciences, not operations.Scotty traveled on the Jenolan after retirement, he was not the captain. He had the title "Captain", however that is a military rank just below admiral. You can hold the captain rank without being in command of a starship.
    – JohnP
    Feb 10, 2016 at 21:05

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