Though the imperial service of Later Han employed some 150,000 men, the majority held only junior rank, in secretarial and technical posts or low-level positions in the police and the military. High office was reserved for those with an imperial commission, on which basis they could rise to power and authority. This paper discusses how such commissions were obtained, and the processes which recruited officials and ensured support for the government among the leading classes of the empire. Most men who received commissions were recommended by the officials in charge of their local communities, and were subject to a period of probation at the capital before receiving a substantive post. Few reached high office through the Imperial University.