Every Rank in the Army and How Much it Pays

How much does every rank in the Army make? The military is a great career path for some people, but finding out how much they earn is something else entirely. If you’ve been debating a career in the armed forces, this might just be what you need.

E-1 Private

every rank in the army
Most recruits start without an insignia when enlisting.©Giorgio Rossi/Shutterstock.com

When looking at how much every rank in the Army makes you have to remember there is more than one point of entry. For people just enlisting as a basic Private, you’re looking at around $2000 a month, or $24,000 a year.

E-2 Private Second Class

every rank in the army
You’ll likely make E-2 before boot camp is finished.©U.S. Army / Public domain – Original / License

Most people will make E-2 after graduating from basic training, seeing a jump to $27,000 annually. As with every rank in the Army, you aren’t going to be staying at this rank for too long.

E-3 Private First Class

every rank in the army
Some recruits will hit E-3 after graduating from basic training.©U.S. Army / Public domain – Original / License

The jump to E-3 sees another marginal increase in pay. As you’ll see with every rank in the Army, there is a little extra as you move up. E-3s make between $28,000 to $32,000 annually.

E-4 Specialist

every rank in the army
E-4 can be the path to Warrant Officer school.©U.S. Army / Public domain – Original / License

Specialists are the last rank before looking at non-commissioned officers, this usually indicates you might be moving to Warrant Officer school. An E-4 is making between $31,000 to $38,000 annually.

E-4 Corporal

every rank in the army
Corporals are on the fast track to NCO ranks.©U.S. Army / Public domain – Original / License

Corporals make the same amount as Specialists, but this means you’re on the fast track as an NCO. As with every rank in the Army, multiple career paths depend on your MOS.

E-5 Sergeant

every rank in the army
Sergeants are all over the Army, often commanding squads.©U.S. Army / Public domain – Original / License

The first NCO rank sees a fairly substantial pay hike. An E-5 Sergeant is making between $34,000 to $48,000 a year. As with every rank in the Army, your pay depends on experience, bonuses, and other factors.

E-6 Staff Sergeant

every rank in the army
E-6s can serve under officers like lieutenants.©U.S. Army / Public domain – Original / License

Many soldiers will make it to E-6 at the end of their compulsory service. As with every rank in the Army, there is a pay increase. You’re looking at between $38,000 to $58,000 a year.

E-7 Sergeant First Class

every rank in the army
An E-7 has plenty of authority among NCOs.©U.S. Army / Public domain – Original / License

Sergeant First Class has some additional benefits, but the pay increase is a given. E-7 as with every rank in the Army, does have a pay range. However, you’re looking at $44,000 to $78,000 a year.

E-8 Master Sergeant, First Sergeant

every rank in the army
Not many people can pull rank on a Master Sergeant.©U.S. Army / Public domain – Original / License

The last few NCO ranks see a substantial pay increase, as with every rank in the Army the higher up you get. Master Sergeant, or E-8, can make between $63,000 to $89,000 annually.

E-9 Sergeant Major, Command Sergeant Major, Sergeant Major of the Army

every rank in the army
A Sergeant Major is as high as NCO ranks go.©U.S. Army / Public domain – Original / License

The last three NCO ranks all effectively have the same pay of $76,000 to $119,000 a year. However, the responsibilities of the post differ. Sergeant Major and Command Sergeant Major are the highest NCO ranks you can reach. As with every rank in the Army, officers are on the top of the heap.

W-1 Warrant Officer 1

every rank in the army
WOs are technically officers, even if the paygrade doesn’t match.©U.S. Army / Public domain – Original / License

Warrant Officers are their own special classification, a rarity among every rank in the Army. That said, they are not considered enlisted or NCOs, operating above them in terms of overall command. A W-1 Warrant Officer can expect to make between $45,000 to $78,000 a year.

W-2 Chief Warrant Officer 2

CW2
W-2s are fairly established in their military careers upon receiving the promotion.©U.S. Army / Public domain – Original / License

As you move through the ranks of a Warrant Officer, you’ll see fairly substantial pay increases. W-2 Chief Warrant Officer 2 soldiers make between $51,000 to $85,000 a year.

W-3 Chief Warrant Officer 3

CW3
CWO3s are likely commanding larger units.©U.S. Army / Public domain – Original / License

Another Warrant Officer upgrade, and another pay increase as you’d expect when moving through every rank in the Army. W-3 soldiers make between $58,000 to $101,000 a year.

W-4 Chief Warrant Officer 4

CW4
CWO4 is often assigned to vehicles, like tanks and helicopters.©U.S. Army / Public domain – Original / License

The last two Chief Warrant Officer ranks see a substantial pay increase. At this point, you’d likely be commanding your own unit or vehicle detachment. W-4 soldiers make between $63,000 to $118,000 a year.

W-5 Chief Warrant Officer 5

CW5
Aside from the proper officer ranks, the top Warrant Officer rank has plenty of authority.©U.S. Army / Public domain – Original / License

As with every rank in the Army, the top rank of a given category makes a substantial amount of money. If you’ve made it to W-5, you’re looking at between $113,000 to $147,000 a year.

O-1 Second Lieutenant

2LT
Most graduates from college that are part of ROTC are on the fast track to 2LT.©Ipankonin / Public Domain – Original / License

Generally, you earn your commission as an officer from special schools or military colleges. Most officer candidates will make O-1 their first rank, as with every rank in the Army. O-1 officers can make between $46,000 to $58,000 annually.

O-2 First Lieutenant

1LT
First Lieutenants are promoted shortly after receiving their first commission.©Ipankonin / Public Domain – Original / License

A promotion to O-2 receives a pay increase as you might expect. First Lieutenants make between $53,000 to $73,000 a year. Officers at this rank are commanding larger groups of soldiers in the field.

O-3 Captain

CPT
Being promoted to Captain usually means you’re in charge of larger units.©Ipankonin / Public Domain – Original / License

Captains are usually on the ground with troops, being among the few officer ranks to command larger detachments while in the field. As with every rank in the Army, there is a pay increase. O-3 officers make between $61,000 to $100,000 a year.

O-4 Major

Major
Majors are among the last field officers to be seen in the Army.©Ipankonin / Public Domain – Original / License

You can make a handsome living when going through the ranks as an officer. Majors in the Army are looking at earning between $70,000 to $116,000 a year.

O-5 Lieutenant Colonel

LTC
You are likely to see LTC in the field, depending on the organization of a unit.©Ipankonin / Public Domain – Original / License

Many officers could comfortably retire at O-5, especially given the substantial compensation. Lieutenant Colonels make around $81,000 to $137,000 a year.

O-6 Colonel

Colonel
Most soldiers will interact with a full-bird Colonel as their top officer.©Skjoldbro / CC BY-SA 4.0 – Original / License

Full bird Colonels make even more than an O-5. Granted, this isn’t a surprise when looking at every rank in the Army. An O-5 makes between $96,000 to $171,000 a year.

O-7 Brigadier General

Brigadie General
If you’ve made it to O-7 you’re likely a career servicemember.©Ipankonin / Public Domain – Original / License

Generals in the Army are in charge of massive units. As such, even a one-star general or O-7 is a substantial jump forward in terms of overall authority and responsibilities. That said, the compensation ranges between $128,000 to $191,000 annually.

O-8 Major General

O-8 means you’re in the running for some of the top commands in the entire Army.©Ipankonin / Public Domain – Original / License

A Major General is an important part of the machine that makes the Army work. Each of the final steps in the officer ranks sees even more responsibility and power come under a single person. An O-8 makes between $154,000 to $222,000 a year.

O-9 Lieutenant General

A Lieutenant General is likely one of the foremost experts when it comes to command in the Army.©Ipankonin / Public Domain – Original / License

O-9 officers make between $218,000 to $222,000 a year, the smallest overall range when looking at pay differences for every rank in the Army. A three-star General is one of the highest-ranking officers in the entire armed forces.

O-10 General, General of the Army

The top rank in the Army is likely interacting with politicians, the President, and other top brass in the other armed services.©Ipankonin / Public Domain – Original / License

At the top of the command structure is General, or O-10. This rank is likely interacting with high-ranking politicians and other high-ranking officers in the other branches of the Armed Services. Compensation at this rank is fixed at $222,000 a year.

The image featured at the top of this post is ©Bumble Dee/Shutterstock.com.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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