Q&A: What's Included in a US Army Salary?

Updated July 31, 2023

Image description

A man with a soldier uniform. There is also a list with the title "U.S. Army Basic Pay" and these positions and their amounts are listed:

Private (E1): $21,420 per year
Private (E2): $24,008 per year
Private First Class (E3): $25,246 per year
Corporal (E4): $27,964 per year
Sergeant (E5): $30,499 per year
Staff Sergeant (E6): $33,292 per year

The U.S. Army offers many different incentives and structures in its basic pay to provide service members with a secure income. Living allowances, educational benefits, exceptional retirement plans and additional perks are all salary benefits the U.S. Army pays its service members.

In this article, we explore the salary for the U.S. Army, the elements that make it up and several frequently asked questions to help you determine if this is the right career path for you.

Related jobs on Indeed
Part-time jobs
View more jobs on Indeed

What is the salary for the U.S. Army?

The salary for the U.S. Army is specialized and unique to each service member and depends on factors including rank, job specialty and allowance criteria. Typically, a U.S. Army salary consists of several different elements that make up the total compensation available to all service members. The first part of a soldier's salary consists of the U.S. Army basic pay, not including benefits or allowances. This differs between ranks: A private (E1) with less than two years’ experience starts at $21,420 per year, and a major (O4) with less than two years’ experience tops the basic pay scale for commanding officers at $61,621 per year.

The U.S. Army basic pay then increases, especially when combining bonuses, allowances and other salary benefits related to a soldier's military occupational specialty (MOS) and unique skill set. For instance, an officer who works in information technology or intelligence will typically earn more than a sergeant with artillery or infantry as their MOS.

U.S. Army salary can also depend on enlistment or commission status. Commissioned service members enter the U.S. Army with a four-year college degree and complete officer candidate school (OCS) to enter the military career field as a commissioned officer, usually as a second lieutenant (O1). This results in a pay increase right after basic training, whereas enlisted soldiers usually earn higher ranks over time to achieve a higher status and higher basic pay.

Related: 10 Best Jobs in the U.S. Army

What elements make up a U.S. Army salary?

Salaries in the U.S. Army differ between ranks and job specifications, and several elements can make up service members' salary including:

U.S. Army basic pay

The first part of a soldier's salary is the U.S. Army basic pay, which increases as soldiers advance in rank. The basic pay is the starting point, and the U.S. Army's total compensation plan adds all other allowances, benefits and bonuses. The salary varies for each enlisted rank:

  • Private (E1): $21,420 per year

  • Private (E2): $24,008 per year

  • Private First Class (E3): $25,246 per year

  • Corporal (E4): $27,964 per year

  • Sergeant (E5): $30,499 per year

  • Staff Sergeant (E6): $33,292 per year

These values represent the basic pay for enlisted personnel during the first two years of service, with salary increases after four and six years of service. The salary range for commissioned officers is structured similarly, with salaries of lower ranks less than the salaries for higher-ranking officers:

  • Second Lieutenant (O1): $40,629 per year

  • First Lieutenant (O2): $46,814 per year

  • Captain (O3): $54,176 per year

  • Major (O4): $61,621 per year

Specialty pay

Another element to a soldier's salary is the specialty pay the U.S. Army offers for a specific MOS such as military police or airborne infantry. The specialty pay is also dependent on rank as soldiers who rank higher in their MOS are awarded higher pay for their specialized skill sets.

Related: What Is an Electrician Army MOS? (With Job Details)

Drill pay

The U.S. Army also offers part-time drill pay. The drill pay is in addition to the U.S. Army basic pay and applies to U.S. Army Reserve and U.S. Army National Guard soldiers who work one weekend per month for training. The drill pay scale also depends on rank, years of experience and enlistment or commissioned status. Enlisted soldiers under two years of experience start the scale and commissioned officers at the rank of major (O4) top the pay scale:

  • Private (E1): $3,748 per year

  • Private (E2): $4,201 per year

  • Private First Class (E3): $4,418 per year

  • Corporal (E4): $4,893 per year

  • Sergeant (E5): $5,337 per year

  • Staff Sergeant (E6): $5,826 per year

  • Second Lieutenant (O1): $7,110 per year

  • First Lieutenant (O2): $8,192 per year

  • Captain (O3): $9,480 per year

  • Major (O4): $10,783 per year


The U.S. Army offers a variety of bonuses and incentives for active-duty service members. Typically, different branches—like medical, security and law enforcement—have different bonus incentives. For instance, some bonuses awarded to recruits who enlist as infantry, military police or airborne infantry can be significantly more than other MOS enlistments. The U.S. Army also offers different enlistment bonuses up to $20,000 just for enlisting in the U.S. Army.


The U.S. Army also offers different types of allowances as part of a soldier's salary. U.S. Army personnel typically receive housing and food allowances, and soldiers with families usually receive a significant family allowance to cover costs like transportation and auto insurance. The allowance scale depends on a soldier's marital status and the number of family members.

Health benefits

U.S. Army service members always receive health benefits. Medical and dental insurance as well as accident protection, family medical and maternity leave are several health care perks that soldiers receive. Additionally, the U.S. Army supports family care by providing on-base medical care as well as in-network care.

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

Get interview-ready with tips from Indeed
Prepare for interviews with practice questions and tips

FAQs about U.S. Army salary

Use the following frequently asked questions about U.S. Army salary to help you determine if it's the career path for you:

What kinds of educational benefits are available to U.S. Army soldiers?

While not all service members use their educational benefits, the U.S. Army does provide several options for soldiers who want to attend college. One of the most well-known educational stipends is the G.I. Bill, which covers college tuition. The U.S. Army offers many financial aid programs such as tuition reimbursements and other financial aid benefits.

What kinds of retirement benefits do U.S. Army soldiers receive?

After serving in the U.S. Army, soldiers receive retirement pay. The retirement allowance is determined by the number of years served and the rank upon retirement. The U.S. Army structures its retirement pay much like a 401(k), which allows retired veterans to purchase a home, make investments and deposit savings. The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is another option backed by the government and offered to retirees as another means of contributing to their retirement savings.

What kinds of tax benefits do U.S. Army soldiers receive?

The U.S. Army offers additional tax benefits, including a tax rate for military members significantly lower than for civilians. This is due to an interest cap of 6%, which means the taxes deducted from a soldier's pay are prohibited from exceeding this rate.

How does the U.S. Army help with the transition from military to civilian life?

The U.S. Army offers support to service members who choose to leave the military at the end of their service terms through the Army Career and Alumni Program available at all U.S. Army posts. This program can help service members transition to civilian life with career support and educational benefits.

Related: How To Write a Military-to-Civilian Resume: Highlighting Your Military Experience

Is this article helpful?
Indeed Career Services
Resume Services
Get your resume reviewed or rewritten
Upgrade your resume
Interview Practice
Practice interviewing with an expert career coach
Book a session
Indeed Resume
Get noticed by employers
Upload a resume file
Salary Calculator
See your personalized pay range
Get your estimate
Resume Samples
Kick start your search with templates
Browse resume samples
Company Reviews
Access millions of company reviews
Find companies

Explore more articles

  • The Complete Guide to Researching a Company
  • Career Guide To Jobs in Bioinformatics
  • How To Get a Marketing Job Without a Degree in 7 Steps
  • How To Become a Wildlife Photographer (Plus Salary)
  • How To Become a Firefighter in Texas in 6 Steps (And Salary)
  • What's the Job Outlook for Teachers in 2023
  • 13 Different Types of Paramedic Occupations To Consider
  • 15 Highest Paying Jobs in the Medical Field That Only Require an Associate Degree
  • How Long Is a Seasonal Job and Can I Make It Permanent?
  • How To Become A Medical Records Technician: 4 Steps
  • How To Get Paid To Read Books Aloud (With Helpful Tips)
  • 10 Types of Jobs in Archaeology (Plus Duties and Salaries)