How to Become an IAS Officer | Eligibility, Exam Pattern & Details

Do you want to become an IAS officer? If yes, this article will be of help to you. This step-by-step career guide has been crafted keeping the needs of civil services aspirants in mind. Here, you will be reading about the steps involved in becoming an IAS officer.

IAS Officer

IAS stands for Indian Administrative Service. It is a part of Civil Services of the Government of India.


To become an IAS officer, one must crack the tough CSE (Civil Services Examination). This examination is conducted by the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission). Also check – How to become IPS officer & doctor.


Before heading to the meat of the matter – how to become an IAS officer – let us check out some important details about the Civil Services of the Government of India.


As I mentioned before, IAS is just a part of the Civil Services of the Government of India. There are many services, which are the pillars of Government of India.


Basically, Civil Services can be categorized into two groups – Group A Services and Group B Services. These are the prominent Civil Services –


Group A Services

  • Indian Administrative Service
  • Indian Police Service
  • India Foreign Service
  • Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service
  • Indian Audit and Accounts Service
  • Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise)
  • Indian Defence Accounts Service
  • Indian Revenue Service (I.T.)
  • Indian Ordnance Factories Service (Assistant Works Manager, Administration)
  • Indian Postal Service
  • Indian Civil Accounts Service
  • Indian Railway Traffic Service
  • Indian Railway Accounts Service
  • Indian Railway Personnel Service
  • Post of Assistant Security Commissioner in Railway Protection Force
  • Indian Defence Estates Service
  • Indian Information Service (Junior Grade)
  • Indian Trade Service, Group ‘A’ (Gr. III)
  • Indian Corporate Law Service

Group B Services

  • Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service (Section Officer’s Grade)
  • Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Service
  • Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Service
  • Pondicherry Civil Service
  • Pondicherry Police Service


Here, we’ll deal with IAS only. To become an IAS officer, one must crack the Civil Services Examination (CSE). It is a tough test.


CSE (Civil Services Examination)

CSE is conducted by the UPSC. It is one of the toughest tests in the world! Each year, lakhs of candidates take a shot at this test. Only a handful of them manage to crack it. Only the best of the best manage to become IAS officers!


CSE examination is made up of three parts. They are –

  1. Preliminary Examination
  2. Mains Examination
  3. Interview


The first stage of CSE is preliminary examination. It consists of objective type papers (general studies and aptitude test). Candidates who clear preliminary test have to appear for the next stage – mains examination.


The second stage is mains examination. It consists of nine papers. Candidates who manage to clear this stage are then supposed to appear for the interview.


The third and final stage of CSE is interview. Only the best candidates make it as far as the personal interview.


CSE Eligibility criteria

If you want to appear for UPSC CSE, you must satisfy some basic requirements. Here they are –



For the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service, the candidate must be a citizen of India.

For other services, the candidate must be one of the following:

  • A citizen of India.
  • A citizen of Nepal or a subject of Bhutan.
  • A person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia or Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India.

Educational qualifications

All candidates must have as a minimum one of the following educational qualifications:

  • A degree from a Central, State or a Deemed university.
  • A degree received through correspondence or distance education.
  • A degree from an open university.
  • A qualification recognized by the Government of India as being equivalent to one of the above.


The following candidates are also eligible, but must submit proof of their eligibility from a competent authority at their institute/university at the time of the main examination, failing which they will not be allowed to attend the exam:

  • Candidates who have appeared in an examination, the passing of which would render them educationally qualified enough to satisfy one of the above points.
  • Candidates who have passed the final exam of the MBBS degree but have not yet completed an internship.
  • Candidates who have passed the final exam of ICAI, ICSI and ICWAI.
  • A degree from a private university.
  • A degree from any foreign university recognized by the Association of Indian Universities.

Age limit

The candidate must be between the age of 21-32 years (for the General category candidate) on August 1 of the year of examination. However, age relaxations dies exist for SC, ST, OBC and Physically Handicapped candidates.


For Other Backward Castes (OBC) the upper age limit is 35.


For Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST), the limit is 37 years.


The upper age limit is relaxed for certain candidates who are backward with respect to other factors and physically handicapped (PH) people.


In short, the steps involved in becoming an IAS officer are –

  1. Satisfy the eligibility criteria.
  2. Appear for UPSC CSE examination.
  3. Clear preliminary examination.
  4. Clear mains examination.
  5. Clear the interview.


IAS officers are allotted positions such as –

  • Sub-Divisional Magistrate
  • Additional District Magistrate
  • District Magistrate
  • Divisional Commissioner
  • District Collector
  • Director/Administrative roles of PSUs
Arun Kallarackal
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