Military Pay Chart and Rank Insignia (2016 Pay Scales)

Military Pay Chart and Rank Insignia

Have you ever considered serving in the military? Do you know the rank structure and how much you’d get paid? We’ve put together an easy to read military pay chart for you to see how much each class makes. We’ve also added an army pay chart, navy pay chart, and air force pay chart so you can easily compare pay scales between all the different departments.

Military pay scales are easy to learn as the U.S. military uses one scale across all branches. Ranks do vary between branches, but each rank within a branch corresponds to a specific pay grade. These pay grades fall into three separate groups, with a range of ranks within each group.

The pay grade’s letter indicates which group the specific service member falls into, and the number specifies which rank. For example, an E-5 pay grade indicates that the member is in the fifth enlisted rank regardless of which branch they are in. The exact monthly pay also changes depending on time served.

The monthly pay numbers may seem smaller than civilian pay in some cases, but base pay is not the full story. Military members either live in on-base housing or receive a housing allowance which is calculated separately for each base. They also receive subsistence pay to cover food costs and other benefits such as free health care.

 

Military Pay Chart and Rank

 

Military Pay Chart for Commissioned Officers

Officers make the most money of any pay group, but potential officers must have met certain qualifications before receiving a commission and entering training. An officer is usually in a management or combat leadership role, but some officers are brought in to fill special professional positions such as doctors and chaplains. These individuals have already earned post-graduate degrees in their respective fields.

The most common method of qualifying for a commission is obtaining a bachelor’s degree. A degree from a military academy is preferable and improves chances of promotion to some of the higher officer ranks. Enlisted personnel can also make the jump to officer based on their commander’s recommendation. Time spent as an enlisted person does count towards time in service for an officer, and an O-1, O-2, or O-3 that is a prior enlisted member can receive higher pay than an equivalent officer with no enlisted time.

The Navy and Coast Guard use rank titles and insignia that are different from the other branches. However, when on a base controlled by a different branch, naval officers will generally wear an insignia that is equivalent to their rank (two silver bars for a lieutenant since it’s the naval equivalent of a captain, etc.).

These ranks are divided into three categories that correlate to the level of responsibility officers within that rank usually hold. O-1 to O-3 are considered company grade officers, or junior grade officers if they’re in the Navy. O-4 to O-6 are field grade officers or mid-grade, and O-7 and up are general officers or flag officers.

O-1

Monthly Base Pay: $2,792.40 with 2 years or less of time in service.
Prior Enlisted Pay: $3740.10 with 4 years of time in service.
Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps
Title: Second Lieutenant
Insignia: Single Gold Bar
Navy and Coast Guard
Title: Ensign
Insignia: Single 1/2 Inch Stripe Below Corps Device

O-2

Monthly Base Pay: $3,900.30 with 2 years of time in service.
Prior Enlisted Pay: $4,739.40 with 6 years of time in service.
Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps
Title: First Lieutenant
Insignia: Single Silver Bar
Navy and Coast Guard
Title: Lieutenant Junior Grade
Insignia: Single 1/2 Inch Stripe, 1/4 Inch Stripe, Device

O-3

Monthly Base Pay: $5,287.20 with 4 years of time in service.
Prior Enlisted Pay: $5,818.80 with 8 years of time in service.
Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps
Title: Captain
Insignia: Double Silver Bars
Navy and Coast Guard
Title: Lieutenant
Insignia: Two 1/2 Inch Stripes Below Device

O-4

Monthly Base Pay: $6,745.80 with 10 years of time in service.
Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps
Title: Major
Insignia: Gold Oak Leaf
Navy and Coast Guard
Title: Lieutenant Commander
Insignia: 1/4 Inch Stripe Between Two 1/2 Inch Stripes Below Device

O-5

Monthly Base Pay: $8,158.50 with 16 years of time in service.
Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps
Title: Lieutenant Colonel
Insignia: Silver Oak Leaf
Navy and Coast Guard
Title: Commander
Insignia: Three 1/2 Inch Stripes Below Device

O-6

Monthly Base Pay: $9,847.80 with 20 years of time in service.
Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps
Title: Colonel
Insignia: Silver Eagle
Navy and Coast Guard
Title: Captain
Insignia: Four 1/2 Inch Stripes Below Device

O-7

Monthly Base Pay: $12,043.80 with 22 years of time in service.
Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps
Title: Brigadier General
Insignia: Single Silver Star
Navy and Coast Guard
Title: Rear Admiral Lower Half
Insignia: Two Inch Stripe Below Device

O-8

Monthly Base Pay: $13,647.30 with 24 years of time in service.
Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps
Title: Major General
Insignia: Two Silver Stars
Navy and Coast Guard
Title: Rear Admiral Upper Half
Insignia: Two Inch Stripe And Single 1/2 Inch Stripe Below Device

O-9

Monthly Base Pay: $15,062.40 with 26 years of time in service.
Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps
Title: Lieutenant General
Insignia: Three Silver Stars
Navy and Coast Guard
Title: Vice Admiral
Insignia: Two Inch Stripe And Two 1/2 Inch Stripes Below Device

O-10

Monthly Base Pay: $17,071.50 with 28 years of time in service.
Note: Special positions such as Chief of Staff receive base pay increase to $21,147.30.
Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps
Title: General
Insignia: Four Silver Stars
Navy and Coast Guard
Title: Vice Admiral
Insignia: Two Inch Stripe And Three 1/2 Inch Stripes Below Device

An additional rank beyond O-10 will sometimes be granted in wartime. The new title would be the General of the Army, the General of the Air Force, or the General of the Navy, and all are marked with a fifth silver star with the General of the Navy also receiving a fourth 1/2 inch stripe.

Military Pay Chart for Warrant Officers

Warrant officers fall between commissioned officers and enlisted personnel and is currently not a common rank for personnel to hold. They are usually skilled technicians serving specific roles within the military. Warranting personnel for this purpose is similar to direct commissions for doctors and chaplains, but in technical roles rather than professional roles. Warrant officers outside of these positions are in leadership roles similar to the ones held by commissioned officers and often have experience as enlisted personnel.

The last time warrant officer was a widely held rank was during the Vietnam War because the Army needed more helicopter pilots than they were able to train. The growth of cyber warfare and the need for computer technicians and more flexible career paths to retain enlisted personnel could lead to greater use of warrant officers.

While not currently in use by the Air Force, warrant officers were part of the branch’s rank structure when it was split from the Army in 1947. The duties previously accomplished with warrant officers were divided among senior enlisted personnel and company grade officers. Should the Air Force need to utilize this rank again, they are authorized to do so.

Warrant Officer 1 (Pay Grade W-1)

Monthly Base Pay: $2,905.50 with less than 2 years of time in service.
Rank Insignia By Branch
Navy and Coast Guard: Yellow Border Around a Blue Bar With Single Yellow Hash Mark
Marines: Yellow Border Around a Red Bar With Single Yellow Hash Mark
Army: Single Black Square on a Silver Bar

Chief Warrant Officer 2 (Pay Grade W-2)

Monthly Base Pay: $3,785.40 with 4 years of time in service.
Rank Insignia By Branch
Navy and Coast Guard: Yellow Border Around a Blue Bar With Two Yellow Hash Marks
Marines: Yellow Border Around a Red Bar With Two Yellow Hash Marks
Army: Two Black Squares on a Silver Bar

Chief Warrant Officer 3 (Pay Grade W-3)

Monthly Base Pay: $4,605.90 with 8 years of time in service.
Rank Insignia By Branch
Navy and Coast Guard: Silver Border Around a Blue Bar With One Silver Hash Mark
Marines: Silver Border Around a Red Bar With One Silver Hash Mark
Army: Three Black Squares on a Silver Bar

Chief Warrant Officer 4 (Pay Grade W-4)

Monthly Base Pay: $5,620.80 with 12 years of time in service.
Rank Insignia By Branch
Navy and Coast Guard: Silver Border Around a Blue Bar With Two Silver Hash Marks
Marines: Silver Border Around a Red Bar With Two Silver Hash Marks
Army: Four Black Squares on a Silver Bar

Chief Warrant Officer 5 (Pay Grade W-5)

Monthly Base Pay: $7,283.10 with 20 years of time in service.
Rank Insignia
A Single Colored Stripe Along A Silver Bar.
Navy and Coast Guard: Blue Stripe
Marines: Red Stripe
Army: Black Stripe

Military Pay Chart for Enlisted Personnel

The vast majority of service members are enlisted. They are the backbone of the military and perform most of the day to day work. The barrier for entry is much lower because enlisted members fill such a wide range of jobs. However, a large percentage of the nation is unable to enlist. Potential enlisted personnel must have good health with no conditions that will prevent them from performing their duties and reasonable physical fitness.

Rank (or rate for Navy members) is often marked by chevrons, the angled stripes commonly seen on the sleeves of a military member’s uniform. A chevron’s ends will point upward, while an inverted chevron has the ends pointed down. Advancing in rank usually includes a new chevron, which is the source of the common phrase “earn your stripes.”

Early rank advancement is based largely on time in service and time in rank, although there are opportunities to achieve certain ranks quicker. Later ranks depend on job performance since extra responsibility and leadership falls to enlisted personnel as they advance beyond the junior ranks. As a result, these middle ranks are considered non-commissioned officers, or NCOs. NCOs continue to work in their current job in addition to being managers. Which pay grades are considered NCOs depends on the service.

As enlisted members continue to advance, they become senior non-commissioned officers, or staff non-commissioned officers in the Marine Corps. These personnel have served well throughout a long career and take middle management positions or advise commissioned officers.

Senior NCOs also have the option to take special positions. The most common special position is First Sergeant. A unit’s First Sergeant is usually identified by a diamond between the regular and inverted chevrons. They are responsible for maintaining morale and discipline in addition to advising their unit’s commander. E-9s can also take Command SNCO positions (Sergeant Major in the Marine Corps), which fulfill duties similar to a First Sergeant but on a larger scale. They are identified with a star between their chevrons except in the Army, where they are identified with an eagle replaced the star usually present for that branch’s Sergeant Majors.

*-First NCO rank within that branch.
**-First SNCO rank within that branch.

E-1

Base Monthly Pay: $1566.90
These ranks have no uniform insignia.
Army: Private
Marines: Private
Air Force: Airman Basic
Navy and Coast Guard: Seaman Recruit
Note: The exact title for junior enlisted personnel and the color of their
stripes in the Navy and Coast Guard depends on their job specialty.

E-2

Base Monthly Pay: $1,756.50
Army: Private E-2, wears a single inverted chevron.
Marines: Private First Class, wears a single inverted chevron.
Air Force: Airman, wears a single chevron.
Navy and Coast Guard: Seaman Apprentice, wears two stripes.

E-3

Base Monthly Pay: $1,963.20 with 2 years of time in service.
Army: Private First Class, wears a single chevron below an inverted chevron.
Marines: Lance Corporal, wears a single inverted chevron above two crossed rifles.
Air Force: Airman First class, wears two chevrons.
Navy and Coast Guard: Seaman, wears three stripes.

E-4

Base Monthly Pay: $2,150.40 with 2 years of time in service.
Army: Specialist, wears the General Service Army Eagle.
or Corporal*, wears two inverted chevrons.
Marines: Corporal*, wears two inverted chevrons above two crossed rifles.
Air Force: Senior Airman, wears three chevrons.
Navy and Coast Guard: Petty Officer Third Class*, wears an eagle above a chevron.
Note: NCOs in the Navy and Coast Guard wear a device matching their job
specialty between the eagle and the chevrons.

E-5

Base Monthly Pay: $2,614.20 with 4 years of time in service.
Army: Sergeant, wears three inverted chevrons.
Marines: Sergeant, wears three inverted chevrons above two crossed rifles.
Air Force: Staff Sergeant*, wears four chevrons.
Navy and Coast Guard: Petty Officer Second Class, wears an eagle above two chevrons.

E-6

Base Monthly Pay: $3,033.60 with 6 years of time in service.
Army: Staff Sergeant, wears one chevron and three inverted chevrons.
Marines: Staff Sergeant**, wears one chevron and three inverted chevrons with two crossed rifles between.
Air Force: Technical Sergeant, wears five chevrons.
Navy and Coast Guard: Petty Officer First Class, wears an eagle above three chevrons.

E-7

Base Monthly Pay: $3,795.60 with 10 years of time in service.
Army: Sergeant First Class**, wears two chevrons below three inverted chevrons.
Marines: Gunnery Sergeant, wears two chevrons and three inverted chevrons with two crossed rifles between.
Air Force: Master Sergeant**, wears five chevrons below one inverted chevron.
Navy and Coast Guard: Chief Petty Officer**, wears an eagle above one inverted chevron and three chevrons.

E-8

Base Monthly Pay: $4,473.90 with 14 years of time in service.
Army: Master Sergeant, wears three chevrons below three inverted chevrons.
Marines: Master Sergeant, wears three chevrons and three inverted chevrons with two crossed rifles between.
Air Force: Senior Master Sergeant, wears five chevrons below two inverted chevrons.
Navy and Coast Guard: Senior Chief Petty Officer, wears a star and an eagle above an inverted chevron and three chevrons.

E-9

Base Monthly Pay: $5,536.20 with 18 years of time in service.
Army: Sergeant Major, wears three chevrons below three inverted chevrons with a star between.
Marines: Master Gunnery Sergeant, wears three chevrons and three inverted chevrons with two crossed rifles between.
Air Force: Chief Master Sergeant, wears five chevrons below three inverted chevrons.
Navy and Coast Guard: Master Chief Petty Officer, wears two stars and an eagle above an inverted chevron and three chevrons.

Each branch also has one E-9 designated as the top enlisted member of that branch. While they are considered above other E-9 service members and receive a pay raise, these are special positions and not a separate rank. Their duties are similar to a First Sergeant or Command NCO, but apply to the whole branch. The Army, Marines, and Air Force are designated with an eagle between the standard chevrons, while the top NCO in the Navy or Coast Guard wears a third star.

Top NCO Of Each Branch

Base Monthly Pay: $7,997.10