Spc. James Harvey/US Army
- This is a list of the typical pay for military ranks, from entry-level Army privates who make $20,172 a year to Air Force generals who bring home $189,600.
- Base pay for an enlisted service member in their first six months comes out to less than $20,000 per year. But troops earn increases as they advance in rank and gain experience. The highest ranking enlisted Marine, Sgt. Maj of the Marine Corps Ronald Green, makes over $90,000 a year in base pay alone.
- Military officer pay is much higher. Newly commissioned officers make about $38,250 a year.
- Base pay is only part of their compensation. Most service members also receive allowances for housing, food, uniforms, and job-specific bonuses, many of which are not taxed.
How much are US troops paid?
The answer to that question depends on their rank, time in service, location of duty station, family members, and job specialty — just to name a few.
Other benefits, like government healthcare and tax-free portions of their pay, help service members stretch their earnings a bit farther than civilian counterparts.
To give you an idea, we broke down their monthly salary, or base pay, for each rank. We estimated their pay rate based on how many years they’ve typically served by the time they reach that rank — many service members spend more time in each rank than we’ve calculated, while some troops spend less time and promote more quickly.
We also didn’t include factors like housing allowance because they vary widely, but these are often a large portion of their compensation. We also didn’t include warrant officers, whose years of service can vary widely.
Each military branch sets rules for promotions and implements an "up or out" policy, which dictates how long a service member can stay in the military without promoting.
The full military pay chart can be found here.
Here is the typical annual base pay for each rank.
Cpl. Christian Garcia/US Marine Corps
E-1 is the lowest enlisted rank in the US military: Airman Basic (Air Force), Private (Army/Marine Corps), Seaman Recruit (Navy). Service members usually hold this rank through basic training, and automatically promote to the next rank after six months of service.
Rounded to the nearest dollar, base pay (salary) starts at $1,554 per month at this rank. After four months of service, pay will increase to $1,681 per month.
The military can demote troops to this rank as punishment.
Mass Communications Specialist Seaman Apprentice Ignacio Perez/US Navy
Service members automatically promote to the E-2 paygrade — Airman (Air Force), Private (Army), Private 1st Class (Marine Corps), Seaman Apprentice (Navy) — after 6 months of service.
Their pay increases to $1,884 per month.
Lance Cpl. Antonio Garcia/US Marine Corps
Promotion to the E-3 occurs automatically after 12 months of service. Airman 1st Class (Air Force), Private 1st Class (Army), Lance Corporal (Marine Corps), Seaman (Navy).
Basic pay is $1,981 at this rank, adding up to a $427 monthly increase in pay after one year on the job.
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