Memorial Day is a time to reflect on the immense sacrifices military personnel and their families make for our country. Men and women in uniform endure physical and emotional duress for love of country and to protect citizens from threats of all kinds. In return, the U.S. government provides benefits for military personnel and veterans — such as military pensions — as well as pay.
Just how much do military personnel get paid? Take a look at the military pay scale in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps to see how pay varies between branches, rank and years of service.
Private Annual Salary
In the U.S. Army, privates are paid according to their class, and their pay remains the same whether they hold the rank for two, four or six years. E-1 privates are paid $19,1989 annually, E-2 privates are paid $21,521 and E-3 privates first class are paid $25,510.
In the U.S. Navy, E-1 personnel (seaman recruit) earn $18,803 annually, and E-2 personnel (seaman apprentice) earn $21,078. Pay does not change within these ranks no matter how long an individual has served. E-3 Navy personnel (seaman) are paid between $22,165 and $24,984 annually, depending on their years of service.
The Marine Corps recognizes two classes of privates: E-1 privates and E-2 privates first class. E-1 privates are paid $19,200 annually and E-2 privates are paid $21,516. Lance corporals (E-3) are paid between $22,632 and $25,512, depending on years of service.
In the U.S. Air Force, E-1 personnel (airman basic) earn $18,802 annually, E-2 personnel (airman) earn $21,078 and E-3 personnel (airman first class) earn between $22,165 and $24,984, depending on years of service.
Corporal or Sergeant Annual Salary
In the Army, those who rank just below sergeant — E-4 (specialist or corporal) — are paid between $25,067 and $30,427 annually. In the Navy, E-4 personnel rank as petty officers third class. They earn between $24,552 and $28,584 annually. In the Marines, E-4 personnel are corporals, and they earn between $25,068 and $30,432. An individual with the rank of E-4 in the Air Force is a senior airman. He or she will earn between $24,552 and $29,800 annually.
The Army, Marine Corps and Air Force all have five levels of sergeants (E-5 through E-9). The Navy has five level of petty officers, a sergeant's equivalent. Sergeant salaries are based on years of service. See the below chart for each insignia's pay range.
|E-6||$29,840- $37166||$29,844-$46,224||$29,844- $46,224||$29,228-$45,270|
Corporals and sergeants can stow their hard-earned money away in banks and credit unions that offer military discounts.
Lieutenant Annual Salary
There are two classes of lieutenant in the Army: second lieutenant (O-1) and first lieutenant (O-2). Second lieutenants earn $36,418 starting out. After four years, they earn $45,824, which is where their pay is capped. First lieutenants with more than two years' experience are paid $41,958.00. After four years, they get a salary bump to $56,894. And after six years, they earn $58,068.
In the Navy, O-1 personnel (ensign) are paid between $35,669 and $44,881. O-2 personnel (lieutenant junior grade) receive between $41,094 and $55,724.
A second lieutenant in the Marines is paid between $36,420 and $45,828, while a first lieutenant is paid anything from $41,964 to $58,068.
In the Air Force, a second lieutenant will make between $35,668 and $44,881, and a first lieutenant will earn between $41,094 and $56,872.
Captain or Major Annual Salary
In the Army, a captain (O-3) will make between $48,560 and $67,885 annually. A major (O-4) will make between $55,231 and $73,109.
The equivalent of a captain in the Navy is a lieutenant (O-3). A Navy lieutenant is paid between $47,563 and $63,446. O-4 personnel (lieutenant commander) are paid between $54,094 and 67,727 yearly. The pay range is broken down into four tiers according to years of service.
Marine Corps captains earn between $48,564 and $79,000, whereas majors earn between $55,236 and $92,220.
In the Air Force, captains receive between $47,563 and $77,378. O-4 personnel (major) earn between $54,093 and $90,320.
Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel Annual Salary
In the Army, O-5 personnel are lieutenant colonels. They are paid between $64,008 and $108,756 annually. O-6 personnel (colonels) earn between $76,788 and $135,936.
O-5 personnel in the Navy are commanders. They earn between $62,694 and $76,435. O-6 personnel (captain) earn anywhere from $75,204 to $88,045.
In the Marines, lieutenant colonels are paid between $64,008 and $108,756, depending on years of service. Colonels receive a salary between $76,788 and $135,936.
Air Force lieutenant colonels are paid anywhere from $62,694 to $106,516. Colonels earn between $75,204 and $133,138, depending on how long they have served.
General Annual Salary
The highest rank in the military, generals can easily earn a salary of more than $150,000. O-7 through O-10 personnel in the Army, Marines and Air Force are all called brigadier general (O-7), major general (O-8), lieutenant general (O-9) and general (O-10). The Navy has its own classifications of these pay grades: rear admiral lower half (O-7), rear admiral upper half (O-8), vice admiral (O-9) and admiral (O-10). According to FederalPay, military personnel in these branches receive roughly the same pay:
- O-7 personnel receive between $101,256 and $151,284
- O-8 personnel receive between $121,860 and $175,680
- O-9 personnel receive between $172,224 and $186,996
- O-10 personnel receive a salary of $186,996
In addition to these officer ranks, the Army and Air Force have general positions that are reserved for wartime: general of the Army and general of the Air Force. Similarly, the Navy has a fleet admiral position that is reserved for wartime.
Salary figures have been rounded to the nearest dollar amount. Lisa Christy contributed to this article.