The Wormhole wrote:
Could commercial or private schools be offering some sort of vocational degree meeting those requirements? Do you just walk in off the street at the corner Starfleet Recruiting Office?
I have no military experience at all, so I'm trying to figure how they convince civilians to enlist. Let's assume they don't always send out a ship captain to rescue you from a bar fight.
The only non-coms we really have any background on are Chief O'Brien and Simon Tarses. Chief O'Brien, as mentioned above joined Starfleet to avoid going to a music academy. Simon Tarses wanted to go into space, but didn't want to spend four years in a classroom first, so he went the enlisted route.
Really, I think you'll find similar reasons for everyone who serves in Starfleet in the enlisted ranks. For whatever reasons they aren't interested in an extra four years of education (college/university isn't for everyone) and starship command isn't one of their career goals anyway. Obviously, not very many people have this mindset given how few non-coms we've seen compared to how many officers there are.
Well we've seen lots of people referred to as "crewman" over the years. Yeomen also appear to have been enlisted personnel as well (they wore no rank designation).
What we saw of the entry process in SFA on TNG certainly reinforces the idea that it was REALLY difficult to get in (though I seriously don't see either Tom Paris nor Be'lanna and Nog passing an entrance process THAT difficult). What I could see though is something like a Starfleet version of ROTC at universities across the Federation. It would also make sense for there to be recruitment centers as well. for NCOs
One I could also see Starfleet doing outreach to technical/specialist schools in each of the sciences. Starfleet has WAY too many technical/scientific specialists for them all to have attended SFA. Its possible that once Starfleet started allowing civilians to serve on starships that the number of NCOs dropped. That would explain why you saw fewer NCOs on TNG. When the Borg incursions and Dominion War forced Starfleet to put an end to that policy, you likely saw more NCOs. If I recall correctly most of O'Brien's engineering team on the Defiant were NCOs.