In the US military, your pay scale begins with a determination of basic enlisted pay. But there are many other factors that add to your actual total military pay.
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Decoding Enlisted Pay Charts

In the US military, your pay scale begins with a determination of basic enlisted pay. But there are many other factors that add to your actual total military pay. Variables in determining your basic enlisted pay include soldier rank, length of service, and danger involved in your military service. But factor in military allowances, bonuses and benefits with your enlisted pay and you'll get a more complete picture of all the military money available to you, at every level of military service.


The first variable in your enlisted pay scale is US military soldier rank.

The U.S. Army issues an annual enlisted pay chart with base salaries for each rank. Check military pay tables yearly for the latest changes.

The ranking system is listed in numerical order, beginning with the letter "E" for Enlisted. For example, E-1 represents a private officer without insignia that was newly recruited. The list continues with E-2 one chevron Private, E-3 Private First Class, E-4 Specialist and Corporal, E-5 Sergeant, E-6 Staff Sergeant, E-7 Sergeant First Class, E-8 Master and First Sergeant, and E-9 Command Sergeant Major and Sergeant Major.


Time is a variable that builds upon military rank in determining your enlisted pay. Given the same rank, a military servicemember who has served more time has the potential to increase his enlisted salary.

For example, military pay for E-9 rank with 38 years of service is $2,000 per month more than another E-9 with 12 years of military service. In this case, the pay difference is significant, even though the soldiers enlisted rank remains the same.


In addition, enlisted military serving in combat receive several hundred dollars a month in combat pay, also called imminent danger pay.

With combat pay, a military servicemember earns a base-amount bonus regardless of how many hours per month are spent in combat. This military pay earned during combat or while performing dangerous military jobs is excluded from taxable gross income.

Hazardous Duty Pay is another danger-zone pay benefit, and ranges from $150 to $225 per month. Dangerous military jobs that qualify for Hazardous Duty Pay include handling bombs, parachute jumping, and flying an aircraft.


Special duty assignment pay is rewarded to enlisted military servicemembers with certain skills. Special duty assignment pay ranges from $75 to $450 per month.

Foreign language proficiency pay is another military skill that is rewarded with benefits of up to $12,000 annual bonus.

Hardship Duty is paid to soldiers serving in countries where the quality of life is below US standards. Hardship Duty Pay ranges from $50 to $150 per month.


The U.S. Army also pays certain living expenses for qualified enlisted personnel and dependents.

For example, military servicemembers with dependents living off base receive a tax-free military housing allowance. You may also be entitled to a cost of living allowance if based in a country outside the US.

Enlisted personnel are also entitled to a variable supplemental allowance called COLA, or Cost Of Living Allowance if you live in areas of the continental United States with expensive housing. If you are based in another country, Alaska or Hawaii, you may be entitled to Overseas Cost of Living Allowance.

Your enlisted pay scale changes based on time, military duties and skills, and more. Be aware of your taxable and non-taxable military perks. Add in special allowances and always check on military discounts that extend your pay even further. Get a complete picture of your full military pay and really leverage your military budget.


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