Highest Paid Military Jobs

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The U.S. military is a highly organized system. With over 1.3 million active duty personnel stationed at bases across the country and around the world, the American military’s efficiency hinges on a strict chain of command established by rank. Generally, higher ranking officers or service members have greater responsibility and authority — as well as higher pay.

Though rank designation vary by service branch, the Department of Defense pay structure is the same for the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force. Compensation for enlisted service members and officers is determined by two factors: rank and tenure.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the DoD 2019 Monthly Basic Pay Table to identify the highest paid military jobs. Depending on rank and years of service, military salaries range from $1,554 a month to $15,800 a month.

Pay scales for American military personnel are divided into two categories: enlistees and officers. Enlisted soldiers are the backbone of the military, carrying out orders and completing missions. Meanwhile, officers effectively serve as managers. Officers generally earn higher salaries, and while there are several paths to become one, all officers must have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Pay scales for enlisted soldiers range from E-1 — equivalent to an Army or Marine private, a Navy seaman recruit, or an Air Force airman basic — to E-9 — an Army sergeant major, a Navy master chief petty officer, a Marine master gunnery sergeant, or a Navy chief master sergeant. Not including warrant officers, a set of ranks in between commissioned officers and enlistees, commissioned officer pay scales range from O-1 to O-10. The O-1 designation covers Army, Marine, and Air Force second lieutenants and Navy ensigns. The O-10 level on the DoD pay scale covers generals in the Army, Marines, and Air Force and admirals in the Navy.

The first table below reflects the pay grade within the corresponding rank by branch. The second table reflects monthly compensation per pay grade by years served. In some service branches, there is more than one possible rank per pay grade. For clarity, we only listed one example rank. Pay scales are for the 2019 calendar year, and all rank and pay data came from the DoD. We did not consider the Coast Guard in our analysis.

Ranks

Grade: Army rank: Navy rank: Marine Corps rank: Air Force rank:
O10 Gen. Adm. Gen. Gen.
O9 Lt. Gen. Vice Adm. Lt. Gen. Lt. Gen.
O8 Maj. Gen. Rear Adm. Upper Half Maj. Gen. Maj. Gen.
O7 Brig. Gen. Rear Adm. Lower Half Brig. Gen. Brig. Gen.
O6 Col. Capt. Col. Col.
O5 Lt. Col. Cmdr. Lt. Col. Lt. Col.
O4 Maj. Lt. Cmdr. Maj. Maj.
O3 Capt. Lt. Capt. Capt.
O2 1st Lt. Lt. j.g. 1st Lt. 1st Lt.
O1 2nd Lt. Ensign 2nd Lt. 2nd Lt.
W5 Chief W. Officer 5 Chief W. Officer 5 Chief W. Officer 5 N/A
W4 Chief W. Officer 4 Chief W. Officer 4 Chief W. Officer 4 N/A
W3 Chief W. Officer 3 Chief W. Officer 3 Chief W. Officer 3 N/A
W2 Chief W. Officer 2 Chief W. Officer 2 Chief W. Officer 2 N/A
W1 Warrant Officer 1 Warrant Officer 1 Warrant Officer 1 N/A
E9 Sgt. Maj. Master Chief Petty Ofc. Master Gunnery Sgt. Chief Master Sgt.
E8 Master Sgt. Sr. Chief Petty Ofc. Master Sgt. Sr. Master Sgt.
E7 Sgt. 1st Class Chief Petty Ofc. Gunnery Sgt. Master Sgt.
E6 Staff Sgt. Petty Ofc. 1st Class Staff Sgt. Tech Sgt.
E5 Sgt. Petty Ofc. 2nd Sgt. Staff Sgt.
E4 Cpl. Petty Ofc. Third Class Cpl. Sr. Airman
E3 Pfc. Seaman Lance Cpl. Airman 1st Class
E2 Pvt. E2 Seaman Apprentice Pfc. Airman
E1 Pvt. Seaman Recruit Pvt. Airman Basic

Pay Scale

Grade: 0-13 yrs. of service: 14-27 yrs. of service: 28-40 yrs. of service:
O10 N/A N/A – $15,800 $15,800 – $15,800
O9 N/A N/A – $15,800 $15,800 – $15,800
O8 $10,669 – $12,660 $12,792 – $14,639 $14,639 – $15,381
O7 $8,865 – $10,790 $11,104 – $12,986 $12,986 – $13,245
O6 $6,723 – $8,284 $8,754 – $11,668 $11,668 – $11,901
O5 $5,604 – $7,891 $8,231 – $9,521 $9,521 – $9,521
O4 $4,835 – $7,596 $7,847 – $8,074 $8,074 – $8,074
O3 $4,252 – $6,751 $6,917 – $6,917 $6,917 – $6,917
O2 $3,674 – $5,084 $5,084 – $5,084 $5,084 – $5,084
O1 $3,188 – $4,012 $4,012 – $4,012 $4,012 – $4,012
W5 N/A N/A – $8,831 $8,831 – $10,223
W4 $4,394 – $6,029 $6,333 – $8,024 $8,024 – $8,184
W3 $4,013 – $5,482 $5,683 – $7,039 $7,039 – $7,039
W2 $3,551 – $5,000 $5,214 – $5,926 $5,926 – $5,926
W1 $3,116 – $4,662 $4,875 – $5,385 $5,385 – $5,385
E9 N/A – $5,429 $5,580 – $7,119 $7,119 – $8,242
E8 N/A – $4,657 $4,799 – $6,076 $6,076 – $6,198
E7 $3,021 – $4,296 $4,483 – $5,429 $5,429 – $5,429
E6 $2,613 – $3,875 $3,941 – $4,047 $4,047 – $4,047
E5 $2,393 – $3,397 $3,397 – $3,397 $3,397 – $3,397
E4 $2,195 – $2,664 $2,664 – $2,664 $2,664 – $2,664
E3 $1,981 – $2,234 $2,234 – $2,234 $2,234 – $2,234
E2 $1,884 – $1,884 $1,884 – $1,884 $1,884 – $1,884
E1 $1,554 – $1,681 $1,681 – $1,681 $1,681 – $1,681