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Which Military Branch Pays the Most? – A Complete Answer

which military branch pays the most

The military has an active-duty pay chart for its military members. The rates differ depending on rank, including enlisted soldiers, commissioned officers, warrant officers, enlisted members, and service time (in years) from 2 or fewer to over 40.

Unfortunately, there is no precise answer for which military branch pays the most. Your earnings depend on your rank and pay grade, which can be affected by tax-free allowances and special pay.

If you are looking for information to get a basic idea before you enlist and choose your branch, continue reading!

Military Salary By Rank & Service Years

branch-of-the-military-pays-the-most

1. Active Duty

Enlisted Soldiers

  • O-10: The fixed rate is $16,974.90 for over 20 years in service to over 40 years
  • O-9: The range is $16,444.80 to $16,974.90 for over 20 years in service to over 40 years
  • O-8: The range is $11,635.50 to $16,774.20 for 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years
  • O-7: The range is $9,668.40 to $14,445.60 for 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years
  • O-6: The range is $7,332.00 to $12,979.50 for 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years
  • O-5: The range is $6,112.20 to $10,384.20 for 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years
  • O-4: The range is $5,237.70 to $8,805.30 for 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years
  • O-3: The range is $4,636.50 to $7,543.50 for 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years
  • O-2: The range is $4,006.60 to $5,544.30 for 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years
  • O-1: The range is $3,477.30 to $4,375.50 for 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years

Commissioned Officers (For over 4 years in service to over 40 years)

  • O-3E: The range is $6,185.42 to $8,050.80
  • O-2E: The range is $5,432.73 to $6,420.60
  • O-1E: The range is $3,375.64 to $5,432.70

Warrant Officers

  • W-5: The range is $8,520.30 to $11,149.50 for over 20 years in service to over 40 years
  • W-4: The range is $4,791,90 to $8,925.60 for 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years
  • W-3: The range is $4,376.40 to $7,676.40 for 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years
  • W-2: The range is $3,872.10 to $6,462.90 for 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years
  • W-1: The range is $3,398.70 to $5,873.10 for 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years

Enlisted Members

  • E-9: The range is $5,789.10 to $8,988.80 for over 10 years in service to over 40 years
  • E-8: The range is $4,739.10 to $6,859.00 for over 8 years in service to over 40 years
  • E-7: The range is $3,294.30 to $5,921.10 for 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years
  • E-6: The range is $2,849.40 to $4,413.30 for 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years
  • E-5: The range is $2,610.30 to $3,704.40 for 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years
  • E-4: The range is $2,393.40 to $2,905.50 for 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years
  • E-3: The range is $2,160.60 to $2,905.50 for 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years
  • E-2: The range is $2,054.70 to $2,435.70 for 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years
  • E-1: The range is $1,833.30 to $1,833.20 for 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years
  • E-1<4mos: The range is $1,695.00

This applies to the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard.

2. Drill

Commissioned Officers

  • O-7 (For 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: $322.28 to $481.52
  • 4 Drills: $1,289.12 to $1,926.08
  • O-6 (For 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: $244.40 to $432.65
  • 4 Drills: $977.60 to $1,730.60
  • O-5 (For 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: 203.74 to $346.14
  • 4 Drills: $814.96 to $1,384.56
  • O-4 (For 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: 175.70 to $293.52
  • 4 Drills: 618.20 to $1,005.80
  • O-3 (For 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: $154.55 to $251.45
  • 4 Drills: $618.20 to $1,005.80
  • O-2 (For 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: $133.55 to $184.81
  • 4 Drills: $534.20 to $739.24
  • O-1 (For 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: $115.91 to $145.85
  • 4 Drills: $463.64 to $583.40

Commissioned Officers

  • O3-E (For over 4 years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: $2206.18 to $268.36
  • 4 Drills: $824.72 to $1,073.44
  • O2-E (For over 4 years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: $181.09 to $214.02
  • 4 Drills: $724.36 to $856.08
  • O1-E (For over 4 years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: $145.85 to $181.09
  • 4 Drills: $583.42 to $724.36

Warrant Officers

  • W-5 (For over 20 years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: $284.01 to $371.65
  • 4 Drills: $1,136.04 to $1,486.60
  • W-4 (For 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: $265.46 to $306.45
  • 4 Drills: $1,061.85 to $1,023.52
  • W-3 (For 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: $242.18 to $255.88 for
  • 4 Drills: $968.88 to $1,023.52
  • W-2 (For 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: $207.69 to $215.43
  • 4 Drills: $830.76 to $861.72
  • W-1 (For 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: $113.29 to $195.77
  • 4 Drills: $453.16 to $783.08

Enlisted Members

  • E-9 (For over 10 years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: $192.97 to $299.63
  • 4 Drills: $771.88 to $1,198.51
  • E-8 (For over 8 years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: $157.97 to $225.30
  • 4 Drills: $631.88 to $901.20
  • E-7 (For 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: $94.98 to $147.11
  • 4 Drills: $379.92 to $588.44
  • E-6 (For 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: $87.01 to $123.48
  • 4 Drills: $348.04 to $493.92
  • E-5 (For 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: $79.78 to $96.85
  • 4 Drills: $319.12 to $387.40
  • E-4 (For 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: $72.02 to $81.19
  • 4 Drills: $288.08 to $324.76
  • E-3 (For 2 or fewer years in service to over 40 years)
  • 1 Drill: $68.49 to $68.49
  • 4 Drills: $273.96 to $273.96
  • E-2 (For 2 or fewer years in service)
  • 1 Drill: $61.11
  • 4 Drills: $244.44
  • E-1 (For 2 or fewer years in service)
  • 1 Drill: $56.50
  • 4 Drills: $226.00

Other factors that affect military pay are tax-free allowances and special pays.

3. Tax-Free Allowances

  • Clothing Allowances (Initial, Replacement, Extra, Maintenance)
  • Initial Clothing Allowance
  • Army: $8.99 for males, $298.25 for females
  • Marine Corps: $0 for males, $175.00 for females
  • Navy: $113.65 for males, $330.15 for females
  • Air Force: $0 for males, $309.87 for females
  • Coast Guard: $0 for both genders
  • Replacement Clothing Allowance (Two types: basic and standard)
  • Army – Basic: $356.38 for males, $393.25 for females
  • Army – Standard: $509.11 for males, $561.78 for females
  • Marine Corps – Basic: $695.76 for males, $692.76 for females
  • Marine Corps – Standard: $695.76 for males, $692.76 for females
  • Navy – Basic: $327.60 for males, $324.00 for females
  • Navy – Standard: $458.00 for males, $464.40 for females

Here, you can see that the Marine Corps gets paid the most.

  • Maintenance Clothing Allowance

Only for Coast Guard members. ‘Basic’ for males is $32.93 and $33,45 for females, while ‘standard’ for males is $47.05 and $47.79 for females.

  • Cost of Living Allowances
  • Basic Allowance for Housing
  • Basic Allowance for Subsistence
  • Enlisted: $406.98 monthly
  • Officer: $280.29 monthly
  • Overseas Housing Allowance
  • Move In Housing Allowance (Miscellaneous, Rent, Security, Infectious Disease)

4. Special Pays

Hardship Duty Pay

  • Hardship Duty Pay-Location — Service members assigned to locations with living conditions below continental U.S conditions are entitled to a bonus payment paid in increments of $50, $100, or $150 monthly.
  • Hardship Duty Pay-Mission — Service members assigned to duties considered to be arduous or out of the normal are entitled to a bonus payment of $150 monthly.
  • Hardship Duty Pay-Tempo — Service members assigned to duties requiring more time outside of the typical permanent station are entitled to $495 monthly.
  • Hardship Duty pay-Restriction of Movement — Service members who are ordered to quarantine or self-isolate but cannot do so at home or quarters provided by the government are entitled to $100 a day for 15 days each month.

Military Flight Pay

  • Aviation Career Incentive Pay for Officers (For 2 or fewer service years to over 10)
  • Army: The range is $125 to $1,000 monthly
  • Marine Corps: The range is $125 to $1,000 monthly
  • Navy: The range is $125 to $840 monthly
  • Air Force: The range is $150 to $1,000 monthly
  • Coast Guard: The range is $150 to $1,000 monthly
  • Aviation Continuation Pay
  • Army: Up to $25,000 a year
  • Marine Corps: Up to $35,000 a year
  • Navy: Up to $34,000 a year
  • Air Force: Up to $35,000 a year
  • Coast Guard: Up to $35,000 a year

The military branch that pays the most money, in this case, is tied between the Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

  • Career Enlisted Flyer Incentive Pay (For 4 or fewer service years to over 14 years)
  • Navy: $150 to $400 monthly
  • Air Force: $225 to $600 monthly

The Army. Marine Corps, and Coast Guard do not offer this pay.

  • Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay
  • $150 to $240 monthly for E-1 to E-9 ranks.

The Navy and Air Force do not offer this pay.

Career Sea Pay

Members are entitled to $60 to $805 monthly, depending on the pay grade and how many years of sea time he/she has. Only members assigned to ships or to commands deployed on a ship are eligible. The highest pays by branch are:

  • Army: $646
  • Marine Corps: $750
  • Navy: $750
  • Air Force: $520
  • Coast Guard: $805

Here, the highest paying military branch is the Coast Guard.

  • Sea Pay Premium — Pay on top of “Career Sea Pay” for members with extra long periods of sea duty (after 36 consecutive months).
  • Army: $100 monthly for E-1 to E-3 pay grades.
  • Marine Corps + Navy: $200 monthly for E-4 and E-5 to E-9 with fewer than 8 years in duty
  • Air Force: $100 monthly for E-4 and E-5 to E-9 with fewer than 5 years in duty
  • Coast Guard: $100 monthly for E-4 to O-6 pay grades.

So, the best paying military branch in this regard is the Marine Corps and Navy.

Overseas Tour Extension Incentive Program

Eligible service members can receive one of the following:

  • Up to $80 monthly
  • Up to $2,000 annual pay
  • Special Rest + Recuperation Leave

Eligibility requirements are different for each branch. But the essence is that a member with the desired specialty served his or her original assignment in an overseas location and agreed to an extra 12 months in service.

Note: Out of all the branches, the Navy is most likely to request its members to go overseas.

Moreover, this post will help you find the branch that has the best benefits in the military.

Conclusion

With all this information, you can reach your answer of “Which military branch pays the most?” As you can see, the Coast Guard is the highest-paid military branch. Note that apart from the military officer salary, you need to consider the tax-free allowances and the special pay to determine where you can make the most money!

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