From Lowest To Highest!
The first thing you need to know about the military salary is how the pay grade system works. Many different ranks can fall under one pay grade. That means higher rank doesn’t always mean higher pay.
It works like this: there are three categories, “E” which stands for enlisted, “W” for warranted officers, and “O” for commissioned officers. The number beside them indicates the paygrade for that position (i.e, E-1, E-8, W-2, etc). Ready to see what your military friends are earning? Let’s go!
First things first. No matter what age, rank, or branch you are, if you’ve enlisted, you’re most likely to receive an allowance for essential supplies like food and other necessities.
As of 2020, the majority of enlisted members receive $386.50 per month while officers receive an allowance of $266.18 per month. Not that bad, ay? And it’s only up from here.
Students In Training
A student, otherwise known as a cadet or a midshipman, has the lowest salary in the military. But considering the fact that college students usually pay to go to college and not the other way around, this isn’t that bad of a deal.
Students receive $1,186 per month for an annual salary of $14,232.
E-1’s are those with less than four months of active duty experience in the military. These are also known as privates in the Marines and Army, Airman Basics in the Airforce, and Sea-man Recruits in the Navy and Coast Guard. They are the lowest-ranking enlisted service members can be.
They receive $1,650 per month for an annual salary of $19,800
This pay grade is for servicemen and women with the following ranks: private first class in the Marines, private second class in the Army, seaman apprentice in the Navy and Coast Guard, and an airman in the Airforce.
These guys receive $2,000 per month for a yearly salary of $24,008.
When a service member makes it to E-3, their salary is based on years of experience. The ranks under this pay grade are Marine lance corporals, Army privates first class, Navy and Coast Guard seamen, and Air Force and Space Force airman first class.
Those with less than two years of experience make $2,103 per month for a salary of $25,236. Those with more than three years of experience make $2,371 per month for a $28,452 salary.
E-4’s are men and women who rank as Army specialists and corporals, Marine corporals, Navy and Coast Guard petty officers third class, and Air Force and Space Force senior airmen.
With six years of experience, they earn $2,829 per month at a salary of $33,948.
To reach the E-5 pay grade, wasn’t an easy journey and there was no shortcut. These men and women will have spent at least 12 years serving. Their ranks are staff sergeants in the Air Force and Space Force, petty officers second class in the Navy and Coast Guard, and sergeants in the Marines.
They can earn between $2,541 to $3,606 per month, reaching a salary of $43,282.
The ranks are as follows; Army and Marine Staff sergeants, technical sergeants in the Air Force and Space Force, and petty officers first class in the Navy and Coast Guard.
These guys have served in the military for at least 18 years, giving them a monthly sum of between $2,774 to $4,297 for an annual salary of around $51,566.
The ranks in this paygrade are Marine gunnery sergeants, Army sergeants first class, Air Force and Space Force master sergeants, and Navy and Coast Guard chief petty officers.
However, there is a huge pay gap in between rankings depending on experience. If they have less than two years of experience, their annual salary is just $38,491. Someone with 26 years of experience can earn $69,184 a year.
This pay grade only applies to those with more than eight years of experience. They include Air Force and Space Force senior master sergeants, Army first sergeants and master sergeants, Marine master sergeants, and Navy and Coast Guard senior chief petty officers.
These men and women can earn between $55,375 and $78,976 per year.
When servicemembers hit this paygrade, their paycheck shots up substantially. These ranks are well-respected and include Army sergeant majors, Air Force and Space Force chief master sergeants, Navy and Coast Guard master chief petty officers, and Marine master gunnery sergeants and sergeant majors.
They can earn between $5,637 and $8,752 per month, depending on experience. Those with 38 years of service are looking at a salary of $105,030. But that’s only the beginning. Let’s move into the other categories.
Warrant officer 1’s are deemed experts in their field that get approved by Congress to fast-track their ranking. But although their skill level might be exceeding, they don’t usually have a lot of experience.
W-1’s are present in all branches and earn between $3,309 to $5,718 per month for a salary of $39,708 to $68,616.
This paygrade is only available in the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines. A W-2 is a chief warrant officer but their pay can also vary depending on years of experience.
Those serving less than two years earn an annual salary of $45,244. Whereas those who have served for more than 24 years earn a yearly salary of $75,517.
This paygrade holds service members who are recognized for having immense skill and dedication during their years of service. W-3’s are chief warrant officers with invaluable expertise.
They earn at least $51,134 per year which climbs with experience. Those with more than 26 years of experience earn $89,964 per year.