Military pay is more than a salary. If you only look at basic military pay, it might seem shocking. The numbers look low. But, basic pay is just the beginning of military compensation. It is a total package including health care plus allowances for housing, food, uniforms and more.
Let’s take a look at military pay, bonuses and other compensation to give you some insight. And if you still have questions contact your recruiter for the most detailed info.
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How Much Does the Military Pay?
Skip to the military pay chart below for a sample of active-duty pay rates.
Basic pay is the foundation of a military salary. Years of service plus rank determine military pay grade. Basic pay rates are calculated monthly and subject to taxes. Typically your monthly payment is split into two payments per month. As a salaried service member, you won’t earn overtime pay.
Which Military Branch Pays the Most?
All of the Department of Defense branches use the same pay scale. But that doesn’t mean one branch might not pay more than another through enlistment bonuses. Rank or years of service are not a factor. They are tied to the job you will have while serving, the branch you join and the length of your enlistment.
Army Pay & Featured Bonuses
In 2021, the Army’s enlistment bonuses range from $1,000 to $40,000. See eligible active duty jobs and their bonus amount.
Quick Ship Bonus
Earn $12,000 for shipping to training within 30 days of enlistment. Ship between 31 and 60 days and earn $5,000. This bonus can combine with other enlistment bonuses.
Airborne Enlistment Bonus
Soldiers who enlist in the Army and join U.S. Army Airborne School are eligible for up to $10,000 in bonuses.
Army Reserve Enlistment Bonus
Army Reserve recruits may be eligible for up to $20,000 in bonuses. This bonus can combine with other enlistment bonuses.
Prior Service Enlistment Bonus
Qualified prior service members at E4 and below may be eligible for up to $20,000 in bonuses to enlist into a critical-skill military occupational specialty.
Enlisted Affiliation Bonus
The Enlisted Affiliation Bonus is for enlisted service members who affiliate directly in the Army National Guard from the Active Army. Soldiers may receive up to $20,000 when applying for the EAB.
1. Contract an Army Active Duty & Army Reserve recruiter for more info. Call 1 (888) 550-ARMY.
2. Call an Army National Guard recruiter 1 (800) 464-8273.
Navy Pay & Bonuses
The Navy offers enlistment bonuses up to $40,000.
- Air Rescue Swimmer – $24,000
- Cryptologic Technician Interpretive – $25,000
- Cryptologic Technician Networks – $5,000
- Explosive Ordnance – $28,000
- Hospital Corpsman Advanced Technical Field – $18,000
- Information Systems Technician – $10,000
- Information Systems Technician – $5,000
- Information Systems Technician Submarines – $15,000
- Machinist’s Mate Submarines – $10,000
- Missile Technician – $15,000
- Nuclear Field, Electrician’s Mate Nuclear, Electronics Technician Nuclear, Machinist’s Mate Nuclear – $38,000
- Special Warfare Boat Operator – $18,000
- Sub Electronics Computer Field (SECF-5YO) | Fire Control Technician (FT), Sonar Technician Submarines (STS), Electronics Technician Navigation (ETV), Electronics Technician Communications (ETR) -$15,000
Contact your local recruiter for detailed info by visiting the Navy’s Find a Recruiter.
Air Force Pay/Space Force Pay
The Department of the Air Force recently announced it is seeing its highest retention levels in 20 years, second only to rates recorded shortly after 9/11 in 2002.
“Congress delivered immense help, increased our numbers and helped us make real readiness improvements after sequestration reductions,” said Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services. “Increased recruiting and retention efforts helped restore the size of the force by nearly 23,000 over the last five years. We also closed a 4,000-person maintainer gap and increased the manning levels of many career fields.”
Though the Air Force is not advertising enlistment bonuses, its 2021 Selective Retention Bonus program includes 37 Air Force specialties.
Space Force Transfers
Service members who transfer to the Space Force with no break in service will keep their benefits, including thrift savings and retirement plan benefits.
Marine Pay & Bonuses
- Electronics Maintenance – $8,000
- Supply, Accounting, and Legal – $3,000
- Information and Comm Technology – $5,000
- Cyber, Intel, Crypto Ops and Plans – $2,000
- Motor Transport – $4,000
- Infantry 6-year Option – $5,000
- Music – $6,000
- CBRN Defense – $7,000
- Shipping Bonus – $1,000
For more info, send a text to MARINE (627463) to chat with a recruiter, 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. EST.
Coast Guard Pay & Bonus
The Coast Guard’s New Signing Bonus offers new, active-duty enlistees:
- $5,000 with an associate’s degree.
- $10,000 with a bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D.
To connect with a recruiter for more information, go to GoCoastGuard.com.
2021 Military Pay Chart
2021 Military Active & Reserve Component Pay Tables
Basic Pay Rates:
- Monthly Basic Pay
- Commissioned Officers
- Commissioned Officers Credited With Over 4 Years of Active Duty Enlisted and/or Warrant Officer Service
- Warrant Officers
- Enlisted Members
2021 Military Special & Incentive Pays
Special and incentive pay add to your basic rate. Special pay is for hazardous duty, advanced skills such as aviation, sea pay, submarine duty or high-demand jobs like health care.
There are more than 60 types of S&I pay. Listed are a few of the most popular.
- Hardship Duty Pay when assigned to places with a standard of living below the continental U.S. standard, when performing hardship missions or when deployment tempo exceeds rotational norms.
- Hostile Fire/Imminent Danger Pay when assigned to regions with hostile actions like enemy fire or mines.
- Assignment Incentive Pay when on extended tours or unusual assignments.
- Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay when assigned specific flying duties such as parachute jumping, flight deck duty, experimental stress duty, diving duty, demolition duty, etc.
2021 Military Allowances
Basic Allowance for Housing
This covers the cost of housing in the local civilian community. Read more about current BAH rates on AHRN’s 2021 blog.
Basic Allowance for Subsistence Rates
- Enlisted Service Members: $386.50/month
- Officers: $266.18/month
This may help members pay for uniforms. There are four types of clothing allowance: initial, replacement, maintenance and extra. Officers and enlisted members of the U.S. military are entitled to an initial clothing allowance.
Note: Most allowances are not taxable.
Leave & Earnings Statement
This one-page report shows you the info DOD systems use to process your pay and allowances, payroll deductions and your leave balance.
What Else Does the Military Pay For?
As an active-duty service member, you’ll earn a comprehensive benefits package. It includes college tuition assistance; housing, clothing and meal allowances; free health, dental and eye care; a retirement pension; and 30 days of paid vacation annually.
If you enlist, your service to your country will not go unrecognized. You’ll earn military pay and benefits to support yourself and your family that are competitive anywhere. And, you’ll be uniquely financially secure if you retire from the military and continue onto a civilian career.