US Army Enlisted Ranks and Pay Grades (With Duties)

Updated January 6, 2023

A person wearing a U.S. Army T-shirt uses a laptop and writes in a notebook.

The United States Army has 13 enlisted ranks for soldiers who aren't officers. Soldiers receive compensation based on the military's standard pay grade system, which outlines salaries based on rank and length of service. If you're considering enlisting in the U.S. Army, it might be helpful to learn more about the Army's ranks and their corresponding salaries.

In this article, we discuss the 13 enlisted ranks in the U.S. Army, describe how they related to the nine enlisted pay grades and list duties and salaries for each rank.

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U.S. Army enlisted ranks

The U.S. Army describes enlisted ranks with a title and a numerical designation of E-1 to E-9. The designation after the title denotes the rank's 2022 pay grade. Enlisted personnel receive compensation based on their grade and their length of service, so it's possible for enlisted personnel of different ranks to receive the same salary. 

Read more: Top 7 Benefits of Joining the U.S. Army

Junior enlisted ranks

Enlisted ranks with E-1 to E-4 pay grades are classified as junior enlisted ranks. Soldiers in those ranks are automatically promoted based on their time in service (TIS) and time in grade (TIG). Here are the junior enlisted ranks and their salaries:

1. Private (E-1)

Salary: $1,833.30 per month

Private (PV1) is the lowest rank in the U.S. Army and is primarily for recruits in basic combat training (BCT). They're typically automatically promoted to private second class after six months TIS. However, soldiers may be demoted to private as part of disciplinary action.

Related: What To Expect in Army Basic Training

2. Private Second Class (E-2)

Salary: $2,054.70 per month

Most enlisted soldiers are promoted to private second class (PV2) after completing BCT. Completing the U.S. Army's Future Soldiers Program or having prior military training college credit may allow a soldier to enter service as a PV2. Primary duties are applying what they learned in BCT and learning how to follow orders. They're automatically promoted to private first class after four months TIG or 12 months TIS.

3. Private First Class (E-3)

Salary:  $2,160.60 to $2,435.70 per month

As a private first class (PFC), an enlisted soldier begins carrying out orders and developing technical and leadership skills. The rank is usually earned at a soldier's first duty station after BCT and advanced individual training. Those with experience or prior military training may start basic training as a PFC.

PFCs automatically receive a promotion to specialist after two years TIS and six months TIG. Promotion to corporal, a noncommissioned officer rank, also requires a leadership position, such as a team leader. Also, a security clearance is required for their military occupational specialty (MOS).

Related: How To Become a U.S. Army Medic in 6 Steps

4. Specialist (E-4)

Salary:  $2,393.40  to $2,905.50  per month

Specialist (SPC) is the highest of the junior enlisted ranks and entitles soldiers to manage enlisted personnel of lower rank. Specialist duties focus on technical expertise. Enlisted soldiers with a four-year college degree or certain specialized skills may start BCT as an SPC. They can be promoted to sergeant after 11 months TIG and 47 months TIS. They hold the same pay grade as a corporal but have fewer leadership responsibilities.

Related: What Is a Specialist in the U.S. Army?

Noncommissioned officer ranks

Pay grades E-4 through E-6 are classified as noncommissioned officer (NCO) ranks. Noncommissioned officers obtain their position by promotion through the enlisted ranks while commissioned officers usually graduate from a military academy, Officer Candidate School or Officer Training School after earning a post-secondary degree. NCO training and education include leadership and management along with MOS and combat training. Here are the noncommissioned officer ranks and their salaries:

5. Corporal (E-4)

Salary: $2,393.40  to $2,905.50 per month

A corporal (CPL), referred to as a “junior NCO,” is the lowest NCO rank. They serve as team leaders for small U.S. Army units responsible for soldiers' training and appearance. There are two paths to promotion to sergeant. One requires 36 months TIS and at least eight months TIG. The other requires 18 months TIS and six months TIG.

Related: Q&A: What Makes Up a U.S. Army Salary?

6. Sergeant (E-5)

Salary:  $2,610.30 to $3,704.40 per month

A sergeant (SGT) is typically the NCO who oversees a group of soldiers, especially privates, in daily tasks. A sergeant typically leads a four-soldier team, the smallest element in the U.S. Army's organizational structure. They're the first-line leaders with the most direct impact on soldiers. Sergeants are responsible for ensuring those in their command receive MOS training and maintain a professional appearance.

Promotion is based on a competitive point system for firing range scores, performance evaluations, physical fitness, education level, awards and promotion board ranking. To be eligible to compete for promotion, they must have:

  • Command recommendation

  • Three years TIS

  • Eight months TIG

  • High school diploma, GED or college degree

  • Primary leadership development course (PLDC) graduation

Related: What's It Like To Be in the U.S. Army (Plus Military Titles)

7. Staff Sergeant (E-6)

Salary:  $2,849.40  to $4,413.30 per month

A staff sergeant (SSG) typically leads a squad made up of two to three teams or eight to 16 soldiers with one or more sergeants. They're often directly responsible for privates, specialists and lower-ranked NCOs. SSGs are responsible for developing, maintaining and using a soldier's full range of potential. Staff sergeants develop and train their soldiers in their MOS, enforce military standards and lead unit missions.

Promotion is based on the same competitive point system for sergeants. To be eligible to compete for promotion, they must have:

  • Command recommendation

  • 84 months TIS

  • 10 months TIG

  • High school diploma, GED or college degree

  • PLDC graduation

Related: How To Become a Squad Leader in the Army

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Senior noncommissioned officer ranks

Soldiers in pay grades E-7 through E-9 are referred to as “senior NCOs” and have more responsibilities than junior NCOs. While there are only three pay grades, there are six separate ranks for senior NCOs. Promotions within these ranks come from the Headquarters of the Department of the Army (HQDA). There is no minimum TIG, but candidates must meet TIS requirements. Here are the senior noncommissioned ranks and their salaries:

8. Sergeant First Class (E-7)

Salary:  $3,294.30  to $5,921.10 per month

A sergeant first class (SFC) is a senior NCO who typically serves as a key assistant and adviser to a platoon leader. This is a duty position, not a rank. Also known as “platoon sergeants,” they lead the platoon in the commanding lieutenant's absence. A platoon usually has two to four squads with 16 to 44 soldiers. Depending on their assignment, they may be the NCO in Charge (NCOIC). 

An SFC is responsible for training and overseeing soldiers and staff sergeants in their crews, squads or small units. SFCs generally have 15 to 18 years of military experience. As with sergeants, promotion is based on the competitive point system. However, an SFC must have at least six years TIS to be eligible to compete for promotion to master sergeant or first sergeant.

Related: What Is U.S. Army Basic Training? (With Tips for Basic Combat Training)

9. Master Sergeant (E-8)

Salary: $4,739.10 to $6,759.00 per month

A master sergeant (MSG) is the principal NCO at the battalion level or higher. Although they share the same pay grade as first sergeants, master sergeants have fewer direct leadership responsibilities. Promotion is based on the competitive point system, and an NCO must have at least eight years TIS to be eligible for promotion to first sergeant.

Related: Commissioned vs. Non-Commissioned Officer: Key Differences

10. First Sergeant (E-8)

Salary: $4,739.10 to $6,759.00 per month

A first sergeant (1SG) is the senior NCO in a company, troop or battery. At the company level, they assist officers overseeing 60 to 200 soldiers. A first sergeant trains enlisted soldiers, instructs other sergeants and serves as an adviser to the commander. Promotion is based on the competitive point system. However, an NCO must have at least eight years TIS to be eligible for promotion to sergeant major.

Related: 11 Army Nurse Jobs (Plus How To Become One)

11. Sergeant Major (E-9)

Salary: $5,789.10 to $8,988.90 per month

A sergeant major (SGM) is a subject matter expert in their technical field and a primary adviser regarding policy development, analytical review and regulatory guidance. They serve as the senior enlisted adviser to a primary staff officer at the battalion level (300 to 1,000 soldiers) or higher. A sergeant major may command other enlisted personnel or junior officers, depending on their assignment.

12. Command Sergeant Major (E-9)

Salary: $5,789.10 to $8,988.90 per month

A command sergeant major (CSM) is the training professional who oversees training within a unit. As a senior NCO, they're responsible for assisting officers at the brigade level (1,500 to 3,200 soldiers) or higher. Duties include advising the commander and staff while maintaining policies and standards and overseeing the training and conduct of enlisted personnel. A CSM is expected to function completely without supervision. This is the highest rank that can be held by more than one person at a time.

Related: Career Advice for Veterans: How To Transition to Civilian Life

13. Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army (E-9)

Salary: $9,355.50 per month

There is only one sergeant major of the U.S. Army (SMA) at a time. The SMA oversees all NCOs and serves as the senior enlisted adviser and consultant to the U.S. Army's chief of staff. This rank is held by the most senior member of the enlisted ranks based on experience, leadership and communication skills. The SMA is appointed to serve as a spokesman to address the issues of enlisted soldiers. Exact duties vary depending on the chief of staff,

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