Rottenführer was first established in 1932 as an SA rank due to an expansion of the organization requiring a greater number of enlisted positions. Since early SS ranks were identical to the ranks of the SA, Rottenführer became an SS rank at the same time.
Translated as “Team Leader,” a Rottenführer was the first SS and SA position to have command over other paramilitary troops, usually no more than five to seven persons. A Rottenführer, in turn, answered to a squad leader known as a Scharführer.
Within the Waffen-SS, Rottenführer was considered equivalent to an Obergefreiter in the German Wehrmacht. While having command over some troops, a Rottenführer in the Waffen-SS was not considered a non-commissioned officer rank. Those aspiring for promotion above Rottenführer were required to pass a promotion evaluation and combat skills assessment, during which time the Rottenführer was known by the title Unterführer-Anwärter (Junior Leader Candidate). Waffen-SS Rottenführers also had the option to pursue an officer's commission through appointment as SS-Junker.
The insignia for Rottenführer consisted of two silver stripes on a bare collar patch. On field grey SS uniforms, the sleeve chevrons of an Obergefreiter (Senior Corporal) were also worn. Rottenführer was also a rank of the Hitler Youth where the position was considered a junior squad leader title.
A rank of Oberrottenführer also existed, but was only used in the Hitler Youth.