Matsiyan’s post brings up the question of criteria for promotions. I personally was never under the impression that to be promoted you needed to be really good at your specialization. I always thought it was more about your dedication to the fleet and effort put into improving our division, so the thought of someone of low ‘level’ being promoted never crossed my mind as an issue, although I could see some people doing so.
The problem I have with specialization pins is that they’re a one-time thing: you get it once and keep it. The Levels system allows for further improvement and potentially authority/responsibility for training less experienced officers and maybe further standardization of protocols for each station.
Draeco, I figure level increases would be based at least in part by the number of Noticable and Meritious performance of duty by CO or XO. So, for example, if a Helms officer pulls off some particularly crazy awesome stunts that keep everyone alive somehow, the CO would take note of that and relay his commendation of the officer to someone who could be appointed to be in charge of such things. After getting X number of those commendations, the previously mentioned appointed person could recommend to either the Fleet Captain or the ranking (leveling?) officer of that station, who would then promote the officer to the next level.
This would probably be discussed by some sort of committee (look, more ideas for departments!) before being finalized.
Also, there should probably be some sort of balancing due to some captains and XO’s being more liberal in commendations than others, but that could be discussed, again, by the aforementioned committee in more detail.
I think this could be a really good long-term rewards system because those commendations probably shouldn’t come all that often, unless someone really is exceptional. And if the number of commendations needed increases for each level, that could draw out the ‘I have something to work towards!’ mindset for a long time.