Wondering how much you can make by joining the military? What about what you’ll get once promoted (or hitting another year in service)? Military pay is one of the most public salaries in the United States. Based on your branch, rank, and time in service, soldiers have complete transparency as to how much money they’ll be raking in. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, such as additional payment like per diem, family separation, BAH (basic allowance for housing), but as for baseline pay, there’s an easy way to see how much you’ll earn, and at which point that pay rate will increase.
Obviously, the higher the rank, the higher the pay. Higher ranking enlisted and officers gain more responsibility. Therefore, their monthly pay is reflected in what they are asked to perform. Pay raises are also given at certain intervals of service, usually every two years.
What’s more, is that the pay rates are universal throughout active-duty members. By using ranking systems, like O1, E1, W1 and up, soldiers can easily find their pay rates. (Each stands for officer, enlisted, and warrant officer, respectively.)
Take a look at the chart here: https://militarybenefits.info/2021-military-pay-charts/
On the chart, you can cross-reference pay with time in service — all the way from brand new privates entering basic training, to soldiers who have been in the service for decades.
For those new to military pay, remember that this is considered base pay, so additions like housing and/or food may be added, when applicable. It’s also important to remember that the Department of Defense pays soldiers twice a month, so soldiers receive half of their pay every two weeks. For more information on pay dates, check out our article covering calendar pay dates.
Base pay is also in addition to any sign-on or reenlistment bonuses, or additional pay, such as drill duties.
Non-active duty pay
For soldiers serving in the National Guard or Reserves, you’ll find your pay elsewhere. To find out your pay as a member of the National Guard, follow this link: https://www.nationalguard.com/pay/calculator and fill out the applicable information.
For those in the Reserves, take a look at this pay chart link: https://militarypay.defense.gov/Portals/3/Documents/ReserveDrillTables/2020%20Reserve%20Drill%20Pay.pdf
Pay can vary based on how many drills are attended each month, duty, and if you opt to receive pay or trade service for health insurance benefits.
Following pay charts for your career
By looking at pay rate charts and how they change each day, you can have a good idea as to how you will bring in. This is an easy tool for soldiers to use as they promote and plan out their careers, especially if they plan to stay in the military through retirement. Members can easily see how much they’ll be making with each rank increase or milestone hit with time in service. This model of transparency leaves little for interpretation and allows military families to make financial decisions toward the future.
Rates are subject to change annually with each release of the DoD budget. It’s rare that pay rates go down, and increases are usually implemented to account for inflation.
To determine these raises, the government follows the Department of Labor Statistics’ data. In 2020 a 3% raise was given for the 2021 calendar year, and in 2022, a 2.7% raise will be implemented, following trends of private sector raises. For junior enlisted soldiers, it will be almost an $800 increase annually.
To learn more about changes in annual pay rates, follow news releases, head to https://militarybenefits.info/