Academy Students are not really considered part of the ninja force. They make up the student body of the Academy, where they are taught about the basic techniques and the ninja world. Once they graduate from the Academy, they will be promoted to the rank of Genin and join the regular ninja forces.
Genin is the lowest ninja rank attainable. They make up the biggest part of ninja villages. Although considered the lowest rank, they can still challenge even those of higher ranks. They can be sponsored by a Chunin who'll prepare them for the Chunin Exam.
Chunin are former Genin who were promoted for displaying superior intelligence, strategy and combat skills in the Chunin Exam. Their rank is equivalent to that of a military captain (outranking Specialized Jonin). Using their knowledge and wisdom, they will lead teams in times of war. These ninjas can also become field doctors or teachers.
Kage are the strongest ninja in their hidden village. The Kage serves as the pillar upon which the village stands and the strength a village represents to the other ninja villages largely depends upon the strength of the Kage in power.
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