A Definitive Guide to E-7 Pay (And How To Become Eligible)

Updated June 20, 2023

The United States military employs a large range of positions and operates within a military ranking system. This system also affects the pay grades assigned to each enlisted member. The E-7 pay grade refers to enlisted members in the 7th rank. If you're interested in enlisting or want to understand the payment system, it's important to look at E-7 pay and the factors that can increase your earnings. In this article, we define E-7 pay and provide information on the additional allowances, bonuses and incentives offered to E-7 members.

What is E-7 pay?

E-7 pay is the 7th enlisted pay grade for United States military members. The E-7 pay grade applies to officers who hold a position in the corresponding E-7 military rank of sergeant first class. The E-7 rank is the first class of noncommissioned officers who usually serve as platoon sergeants responsible for the care and training of soldiers.

Related: What Is E-4 Pay?

Additional pay and allowances for E-7 enlistees

On top of their base pay and salaries, E-7 enlistees may receive additional pay and allowances for a variety of reasons. Here are some common additional payments that may occur:

Housing allowance

Enlisted members receive a monthly housing allowance in addition to their pay. The allowance aims to subsidize the cost of housing during their deployment. The amount of this allowance depends on the member's rank, service location, years of service and number of dependents.

Subsistence allowance

The subsistence allowance covers the costs of food, beverages and other necessities. Sergeants handle and purchase their own food and supplies while enlisted. This monthly allowance provides them with the funds necessary to maintain proper conditions and nourishment and frequently increases to match the cost of food and supplies.

Clothing allowance

Officers and members who need assistance with paying for uniforms may receive a clothing allowance. Allowances can cover the cost of the initial uniform, replacements and extra uniforms. It also covers the expense of the maintenance of uniforms and the purchase of any necessary accessories. Some military roles may also offer civilian clothing allowances when members work in stations overseas or require relocation.

Family separation allowance

Members with families and dependents sometimes serve in locations far away from their homes. If a member gets assigned an unaccompanied tour, they may receive an additional family separation allowance. Members on tours away from home for 30 or more consecutive days can receive this allowance. The extra pay intends to compensate you for the inability to be with your family. Family separation allowance only applies when a member serves in a location that hasn't received approval for their family to relocate.

Hazard pay

E-7 members also earn additional hazard pay when serving in an active combat zone or when working in an area experiencing hostile firing. Those performing other dangerous roles and duties such as parachute jumping, operating of explosives or using of toxic fuels may also qualify. Hazard pay compensates for the risk of injury and inherent danger in the field.

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

Special and incentive pay for E-7 enlistees

E-7 enlistees have the opportunity to take advantage of special incentives or payment programs. Here are some cases that may provide enlistees an opportunity to earn special or incentive pay:

Hardship duty pay

Enlisted members who serve in countries or locations with significantly low standards of living may receive hardship duty pay. This bonus compensates service members for the hardships or consequences of staying in challenging locations. The requirements for this extra pay include staying in a designated location for more than 30 consecutive days, after which they receive their pay retroactively. Members permanently stationed in these locations receive their hardship pay upon arrival.

Assignment incentive pay

Extended tours or non-traditional assignments may offer members assignment incentive pay. Those who involuntarily extend their tour in active or challenging locations typically receive an incentive pay added to their base salaries or E-7 payments. The exact amount of incentive payments can vary depending on the time you serve, the location in which you work and the ranking of your assignment.

Imminent danger pay

Enlisted members who serve in designated imminent danger locations earn imminent danger pay. This is an additional bonus added to the E-7 salary payments. The total number of days spent in the designated zone determines the payment amount calculated at the end of each month.

Drill pay

Members and E-7 officers that lead and perform drill operations receive additional earnings in the form of drill pay. Each four-hour drill period provides the added pay. The exact amount of drill pay E-7 members earn increases according to the number of years they've served in the rank.

Related: Financial Incentives: Types, Definitions and Examples

How to become eligible for E-7 pay

Here are three steps you can follow to ensure your eligibility to receive E-7 pay:

1. Enlist

The E-7 pay grade applies only to currently enlisted United States military members. Enlisted members sign a personal contract and commit to serving for a predetermined number of years. The enlisting process may include an aptitude test, physical examination, recruiter meeting and taking an oath of enlistment. Enlisted members start in E-1 ranks and can work to earn promotions to the E-7 rank and pay grade.

2. Earn the rank of sergeant

To earn the E-7 pay, you need the rank of E-7, or sergeant first class. Advancing to this position requires serving in lower positions to gain experience. After serving time in lower ranks such as private, corporal and staff sergeant, you can seek promotion. Getting promoted to the E-7 rank requires displaying good performance, high test scores and a good standing in past positions.

Related: 13 U.S. Army Enlisted Ranks (Descriptions, Duties and Pay)

3. Complete years of service

Advancing to the rank of sergeant first class takes several years of service. Achieving this rank typically requires a minimum of six years. This number can vary according to your skills, experience and the needs of the organization. Completing more years in an E-7 position can also increase the rate of pay you earn.

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