FactsHow Do People In The Military Get Paid

How Do People In The Military Get Paid


The Big Picture Of Military Pay

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The U.S. military is extremely large and intricate. There are different branches of the military, service members have different ranks, they hold different jobs, and some personnel have been in the service longer than others. Some soldiers live on base, some off. There are allowances available in some cases, and there are bonuses paid in others. There are benefits of different kinds for different types of military members. Understanding the big picture of military pay begins with understanding that pay doesnt start and stop with salary and/or hours worked. Pay is designed for each individual, and bonuses and allowances are still an aspect of the big picture even if they arent an aspect of base salary. Joining the military tends to cause a positive trajectory in finances that can help credit and overall spending power as a result of a pay system designed for each situation.The different levels of pay depend on various aspects of a soldiers life from credit history to having children. Some aspects arent added to a salary or hourly rate, but do make a difference in an active service members net income each year. Some of those levels include:

  • Base Pay: Not to be confused with a military base, this is a foundational level of compensation, or starting point.Everyone on active duty receives a base pay, determined mostly by rank and how long youve served in the military.

Best Paying Military Jobs

When considering a military career, you naturally want to know what is the highest paying job in the military? No single answer works for everyone. Your assessment scores and interests direct your career. Additionally, military priorities determine which specialties get incentive bonuses or special pay. As with civilian careers, the top paying military jobs go to those with higher education or specialized skills. According to the data taken from Indeed, as of October 2021, military physicians and surgeons earn salaries over $230,144 a year plus benefits. Military dentists bring in over $148,144 a year plus benefits. US Navy captains make about $87,130 a year on average plus benefits.

Va Disability Compensation Benefits

Veterans who have a service-related injury or illness may be entitled to VA disability compensation. Its a tax-free monthly benefit.

Visit VA.gov to learn:

  • Which conditions qualify you for benefits

  • How the claims process works

Survivors of veterans may receive compensation benefits in certain situations.

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How Much Do You Get For A Dependent In The Military

BAH amounts are determined by the military members rank, duty station, and dependent status.

For example: An E5 with dependents in Norfolk, Virginia would get paid $1737. Without dependents would be $1602 .

However, in San Diego, California, an E5 pay with dependents is $2949.00 and $2268.00 without dependents .

Total Cash Compensation Is Roughly Equal Across The Services

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Across the services and across years of service, regular military compensation accounts for at least 90 percent of the average compensation for both enlisted personnel and officers in the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy . Because the share of total cash compensation that comes from the regular military compensation package is so large and because promotion patterns are similar across the services, average pay across the services does not differ much. In 1999, the average of total cash compensation for enlisted personnel ranged from $29,355 for those in the Marine Corps to $33,744 in the Navy, while that for officers ranged from $62,161 in the Marine Corps to $66,883 in the Air Force.

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Opportunities For Enlisted Personnel

All branches of the military assess recruits to determine their aptitude for various occupations. Recruits take tests known as the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. ASVAB test scores determine occupational choices for military recruits. Higher test scores qualify people to train for positions that could pay more.

The military uses codes to describe different occupations. The U.S. Army and Marine Corps apply military occupational codes, or MOS, to various jobs. The U.S. Navy uses the term NEC for navy classification codes. For the U.S. Air Force, its the AFSC for air force specialty code.

Each code describes a specific occupation. Although the military pays everyone according to their rank and years of service, MOS, NEC, or AFSC for demanding positions authorize extra payments. When it comes to the highest-paying jobs in the military and its generous bonuses, who gets extra pay is subject to change. Military branches reward occupations that they need the most and these needs could shift over time.

Basic Allowance For Subsistence

BAS is a nontaxable allowance intended to offset the cost of the service members meals. The BAS rate is adjusted annually based on the cost of food. All officers receive the same allowance, $266.18 per month in 2021. Most enlisted personnel receive the regular BAS of $386.50. Enlisted personnel in basic training are required to eat in government dining facilities and thus do not receive BAS.

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What Do You Get For Serving In The Military

Service members in the military earn a base salary based on rank, experience, and background. In addition, there are unique benefits to military service like cost-of-living allowances, special insurance, and tuition coverage. There are also often military discounts available from various businesses.

Warrant Officer Basic Pay Rates

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This pay table is used to determine the monthly basic pay for warrant officers in all branches of the Armed Forces. Basic pay rates are published by the Department of Defense, and to account for cost of living.

To determine your pay rate, choose your paygrade and find the row that corresponds with your number of years’ experience in the military. You can also use our to calculate basic pay and allowances.

Years of Experience

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United States Military Pay

United States military pay is money paid to members in the United States Armed Forces. The amount of pay may vary by the member’s rank, time in the military, location duty assignment, and by some special skills the member may have.

Pay will be largely based on rank, which goes from E-1 to E-9 for enlisted members, O-1 to O-10 for commissioned officers and W-1 to W-5 for warrant officers. Commissioned officers and warrant officers will often have higher pay-grades than their enlisted counterparts. Early pay-grade promotions are quite frequent, but promotions past E-4 will be less frequent.

How Can I Earn A Higher Base Salary In The Military

While military base pay is not negotiable, there are ways to ensure you end up on the higher end of the pay scale. Individuals with college degrees have opportunities to start in a position with better compensation. Boy Scout Eagles or Girl Scout Gold Award achievers have opportunities to enlist as a private first class in the Army. All members of the military are eligible for base pay raises over time, due to years of service or merit.

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Special And Incentive Pays

Special and Incentive pays are ways to earn over and above your basic rate or allowances, regardless of your time in the service or pay grade. They help the Department of Defense ensure that the right people are where they need to be to keep the country safe.

Some types of S& I pays include:

  • Hardship Duty Pay for service members assigned to places where the standard of living is significantly below that of the continental United States
  • Hostile Fire Pay/Imminent Danger Pay for those assigned to specific regions where they may be subject to hostile actions like enemy fire or mines
  • Assignment Incentive Pay for service members on extended tours or certain unusual assignments
  • Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay for those on specific types of flying duty such as parachute jumping, flight deck duty or experimental stress duty also known as flight pay for aircrew members

Your take-home pay will be impacted by automatic deductions for things like taxes and Thrift Savings Plan contributions. If youve got any questions about payments or deductions, a Military OneSource financial counselor is happy to walk you through your Leave and Earnings Statement at no cost.

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A career in the U.S. Army has a lot to offer. If you have a vocation you want to pursue, the Army probably has a training program for it, and you don’t have to pay for it. When you complete the training courses, you will have a job for life, with no chance of ever becoming laid off.

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Combat Zone Tax Exclusion

One of the biggest pay bumps can come from working in a combat zone. Under the Combat Zone Tax Exclusion, many service members will not pay any federal income tax for the whole month if they serve as little as one day in a combat zone. This tax exemption also applies to special pay and bonuses received while serving in a combat zone. You will still pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Serving in a combat zone also allows you to contribute up to four times the usual annual limit to your thrift savings plan . That means you can sock away $61,000 in 2022. You can make your contributions go further by contributing up to $20,500 of that $61,000 to a Roth TSP.

Save Pdf Copies Of Your Les

One tip I recommend for all military servicemembers, enlisted or officer, is to download a PDF copy of your Leave and Earnings Statement every month from MyPay and save it in Google Drive, Dropbox, or some other cloud storage solution.

The military is notorious for withholding pay or deducting pay due to clerical/administrative errors. I keep a copy of all my LESs in PDF form so I have a record of what they have and have not paid me.

It has saved me a few times when I have been accused of being overpaid or underpaid.

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Free Cars For Military Members

This is one I havent heard before. The only people in the military who receive free transportation are those who need it for official duties, which is typically only high ranking officials. Some military members may also get the keys to one of the squadron cars if they are the officer on duty or in some other official capacity, but the cars arent issued to them for an extended period of time and it wouldnt be considered much of a benefit if it means you are on call while you have the keys to the vehicle.

There are also strict rules about using government-owned vehicles, or GOVs for personal use.

When Will I Receive My Military Paycheck

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Your military paycheck will normally be available on your payday. When you can access the funds depends on your financial institution. With some banks and credit unions, funds may not be available for a day or two.

Some military-friendly banks and credit unions offer access to military deposits as early as two days before the actual pay date. This is common with Navy Federal Credit Union , among others.

Top Military Banks: Here is our list of the best military banks and credit unions. Consider banking with one of these financial institutions if receiving your pay earlier is important to you.

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Military Pay: Base Compensation

Base pay in the military depends on whether you are an enlisted soldier or an officer , your rank, and how many years of service you have completed. It is the same in every branch and is taxable. You are salaried, so overtime pay is not available.

For example, a level E-1 enlisted recruit, the level at which most people start, could expect to earn base pay of $1,695 per month in 2022. The monthly base pay for the lowest-level commissioned officer, 0-1, is $3,477.30. The most important differences between newly commissioned officers and enlisted service members are that college degree, officer training, and scope of responsibility those are why commissioned officers earn more.

Advanced enlistment allows qualified individuals to enter the service at a higher rank with higher pay. For example, achieving certification as a Boy Scout Eagle or getting a Girl Scout Gold Award could allow an applicant to enlist as a private first class in the Army.

All service members can expect an annual cost-of-living raise determined by Congress and the opportunity to earn merit-based raises and promotions. The number of years you have served at a particular rank can also affect your pay, depending on your rank.

Military Pay : Basic Pay Allowances And S& i Pay

As an active-duty service member, you receive many benefits and entitlements like free access to Military OneSource services and support. One of the primary benefits to working in the military is a steady paycheck and tax-free allowances. Heres a summary of the different military pay elements you might see on your monthly Leave and Earnings Statement.

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Table 1 Average Amounts Of Cash Compensation 1999


The lower average cash compensation for Marine Corps officers and enlisted personnel reflects the preference of that service for more-junior personnel. By contrast, the Air Force, which prefers more-senior personnel, has the highest average level of annual pay for officers and the second highest for enlisted personnel.

Special and incentive payments are of relatively low prevalence and of comparatively small amount. The portion of average annual pay attributable to these is therefore also small. Of the 20 types of special and incentive payments for enlisted personnel that were analyzed, most were paid to less than 2 percent of personnel in each of the four services. The average value for most such payments was less than $1,500. Likewise, of the 23 types of special and incentive payments for officers, most were paid to less than 2 percent in each of the four services and most had an average value of less than $1,500.

There are some exceptions to these patterns. For instance, less than 1 percent of Army officers receive the medical officer retention bonus, but the average such bonus is $36,260. Just under 8 percent of Air Force officers receive the aviation officer continuation bonus, but the average bonus is $17,637. Not surprisingly, these special and incentive payments are an important portion of total cash compensation for individuals in these specific skill areas.

How Much Does A Military Officer Make An Hour


Because we are salaried employees, calculating an hourly wage can be depressing. Also, work hours in a week can vary wildly, depending on whether you are deployed, in garrison, or TDY.

If you are working 12 hour shifts 7 days a week, that’s 84 hours per week of work. If you are in garrison and working 0730-1630 Monday-Friday, you’re only working 45 hours per week .

But assuming an average of 2000 hours worked in a year, as an 8 year military officer in 2018 I made $45.50 per hour.

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Branches That Promote The Fastest

The U.S. Army is generally the branch of the military that promotes the fastest. That said, your military job and the level of advanced education you have will impact your ability to be promoted. A college degree can help you get promoted more rapidly, regardless of the branch you’re in. However, specialized career fields often don’t promote quickly. The military typically promotes personnel when those in higher ranks are promoted or retire or when they need more people in a particular field.

Plan For Career Success

To qualify for good-paying military jobs, youll need to be willing to pursue extra training on the job. Take time to recognize the scope of knowledge, skills, and abilities you acquired in the military, appreciate what else you need to get the highest-paid military jobs, and focus on gaining your achievement and advancement goals. Ask commanders for opportunities or pay attention to notices that offer special pay for certain duties.

Think in advance about what you will need for the transition from themilitary into civilian life, identify the positions equivalent to best-paid military jobs with similar duties and get enough competence to apply for. Though your next career move can be exciting, it needs tough decisions about your development and will take preparation, whether for meeting your financial goals or making you continue your education.

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Tracking Your Pay And Benefits:

The military gives service members two forms to track and understand their pay and benefits: Leave The military gives service members two forms to track and understand their pay and benefits: Leave and Earnings Statements and Net Pay Advice . Each form can be viewed or downloaded from your myPay account. You may want to keep a copy of these forms to ensure the accuracy of your pay and benefits.

Here is the information found on these forms:

  • LES: You should find everything you need to know about your pay and benefits on your LES. It includes your end-of-month pay information, such as gross pay, net pay, state and federal taxes paid, , other pay and benefits Pay, Hazardous Duty Incentives Pay, bonuses, etc.), days of leave, and more.
  • NPA: The NPA provides mid-month pay information.

What about partial months? The military considers a month to be 30 days long this makes it easier for calculating pay and benefits for a partial month of service. So each day of pay is worth 1/30th of your monthly pay and benefits. If you only work part of a pay period you would receive 1/30th of your normal pay and benefits for this period. This is important to know for those times when you PCS, are away on an extended TDY or deployment, or when you separate or retire from the military.

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