Here you find information on all of the different Ninja Rankings in the Naruto series. For each ninja ranking we have supplied a description of what that ranking is and an image of a character in that ranking. To prevent any confusion the term Shinobi is another Japanese term for the word Ninja.
This is where everyone interested in becoming a Ninja must first start out. It's almost like a pre-ninja stage. You aren't officially considered a ninja yet, but you're in the training of becoming one. This is usually the stage where you'll see all the little kids. Academy Students usually graduate around the age of 12. During the training of the academy, students don't do any missions, but learn about what becoming a ninja means and practicing basic techniques that everyone should know before becoming a real ninja.
Also known as a Genin, this is the stage an Academy Student reaches after successfully graduating the Academy. They are now considered an official ninja. When this happens the passing students from the academy are split into groups of 3 people; each group with their own Elite Ninja instructor. The instructor will supervise them on missions and help prepare them for becoming a Middle Ninja. Lower Ninja's missions usually consist of more tedious / unskillful tasks like Weeding, Finding Lost Pets and so on.
Also known as a Chunin, once becoming this level of a Ninja, much more skill and responsibility is required. Middle Ninja's now not only protect themselves in a mission, but the team assigned to them. Middle Ninjas usually have less time to train themselves, and spend their days serving the Kages and teaching Academy Students. Becoming a Middle Ninja is an extremely hard thing to do, and if accomplished shows a great amount of skill in a ninja. You become a middle ninja by passing all three stage of the Chunin exam.
Also known a Jounin, this level of Ninja is extremely hard to achieve, and is quite an accomplishment if achieved. This is the next level above a Middle Ninja, and just like the jump from Lower Ninja to Middle Ninja, the jump from Middle Ninja to Elite Ninja is big. It hasn't yet been shown how to achieve this rank of Ninja, but judging by how powerful an Elite Ninja is, it's got to be extremely hard. Elite Ninjas take on the highest ranked missions and are sometimes required to teach Lower Ninjas (i.e. Kakashi with Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura).
Greatly skilled, Anbu Ninjas specialize in 3 categories; Assassination, Espionage, and Protection. You could almost think of this ninja level, as a sub-ranking within Special Elites. Like Hunter-Nins, the identity of these ninjas are never revealed, but we do Sasuke's older brother Itachi used to be one. Like Genins, Anbu Ninjas are split into groups of 3 and lead by a higher ranking ninja, which in this case is a Special Elite. Usually, they appear in special missions like the assassin of a Kage.
The same as an Elite Ninja, but specializes in a certain field, like medicine or chakra manipulation. In some ways this can be easier to achieve than a regular Elite Ninja, because you only need to be really good at one aspect of being a Ninja, where regular Elites need to be really good and lots of different things. Anbu captains would fall under this category since they are also very specialized.
This is the title given to any ninja, regardless of whatever rank they currently belong to, that have left and abandoned their home village. Because they have left their village, and could leak out important information to enemy villages, they are hunted down and killed. Leaving a village is acceptable, aslong as you are to stay affiliated with it.
Also known as Body Erasers, these Ninjas and trained for the soul purpose of hunting down Missing-Nins and killing them. This is to prevent a Missing-Nin from ever leaking out important information about their home village. Hunter-Nins when trained are taught how to kill people, and learn things like where the weak points in a person's body is. All Hunter-Nins wear face masked and they're identity is not revealed.
Also known as a sennin, this rank of Ninja consists of Ninjas who are close to, or possibly stronger than that of a Kage Ninja. This type of Ninja was usually choose to live outside of their own village, but are forced to keep in touch with it, so not become a Missin-Nin and get hunted down. 3 examples of Ninjas who fall into this rank of ninja are Jiraiya, Tsunade (Who is now a Kage), and Orochimaru.
The highest level of Ninja that can achieved, Kages are extremely powerful, and know many different techniques. There can only be one Kage per village, and this Ninja is the one in charge of that village. Having strength matched by virtually no one (except perhaps a Sage), they are extremely respected by others. Each of Ninja villages calls their Kage a slightly different name. Here are the names used by the villages, along with what that name means. Ho (Fire), Kaze (Wind), Mizu (Water), Rai (Lightning), Tsuchi (Earth). Each of those names is put infront of the word Kage. For example, Ho (Fire), would be Hokage, and Kaze (Wind), would be Kazekage. (In the TV anime series, the third Hokage was killed by Orochimaru.)