In the organised society of the villages, ninja are given missions (任務, ninmu) depending on their rank. The missions are categorized in five ranks, based on the mission's possible danger or level of importance.
Depending on the importance and nature of the mission, as well as the regards of the village head, failure could result in variable consequences. While Shikamaru Nara failed to retrieve Sasuke Uchiha, the Fifth Hokage gave him words of comfort and support. On the other hand, when Sakumo Hatake botched a very important mission by choosing comrades over it, he was heavily dishonoured throughout his village and country, which eventually drove him to commit suicide. In Takigakure, failure of a mission brings very harsh consequences, as Kakuzu's failure to assassinate Hashirama Senju led to an unfair imprisonment despite the insurmountable danger involved. As such, certain villages put mission to a higher priority than others, as Sunagakure would choose accomplishing missions over the lives of their comrades, Iwagakure would follow orders even if it means death and Konohagakure's Shinobi Rules #4 states that "A shinobi must always put the mission first".
- D-rank - assigned to genin fresh from the Academy. They pose almost no risk to the ninja's life and usually consist of odd jobs like farming and babysitting work. The reward for a D-rank mission is between five thousand and fifty thousand ryō.
- C-rank - assigned to more experienced genin or chūnin. They are missions anticipated to have some combat involved with the possibility of injury to the shinobi performing it. Examples are guarding people, background investigations, or capturing or suppressing wild animals. The reward for a C-rank mission is between thirty thousand and 100 thousand ryō.
- B-rank - assigned to experienced chūnin. They are missions anticipated to involve combat with other ninja. Examples are guarding people, espionage, or killing other ninja. The reward for a B-rank mission is between 150 thousand and 200 thousand ryō.
- A-rank - assigned to jōnin, concerning, among other things, village-or state-level matters and trends. Examples are guarding VIPs or suppressing ninja forces. The reward for an A-rank mission is between one hundred fifty thousand and a million ryō.
- S-rank - assigned to experienced jōnin and concern state-level confidential matters. Examples are assassinating VIPs, and transporting highly classified documents. The reward for an S-rank mission is more than a million ryō.