Each year, the government passes a Defense Spending Bill which includes the most up to date military pay charts. These pay tables are used to determine how much compensation military members will receive based on their pay grade and years in service.
These pay charts are used by each branch of the Uniformed Services, including the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (USPHS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps (NOAA).
Each year, uniformed service members are eligible to receive a Cost of Living Adjustment, or COLA. This COLA is based on the Employment Cost Index (ECI), a complex formula developed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The ECI measures public-sector wage growth and is designed to keep military compensation in line with the public sector.
Even though the law calls for this to serve as the basis for military pay raises, the President of the United States can recommend a pay raise that is either higher or lower than the ECI. The pay raises are then voted on by Congress before being passed into law.
Historic Military Pay Raises
You can see the current and previous military pay charts in the following table, along with the percentage raise for each year. Please use the following military pay charts as a reference for your expected pay and benefits, or visit the official DFAS page for more information.
|Year||Military Pay Raise Percent||Average Private Sector Raise||Pay Gap||Military Pay Chart|
|2019||2.6||UNK||UNK||2019 Military Pay Charts|
|2018||2.4||UNK||UNK||2018 Military Pay Charts|
|2017||2.1||2.8||8.4%||2017 Military Pay Charts|
|2016||1.3||2.3||7.6%||2016 Military Pay Charts|
|2015||1.0||1.9||6.6%||2015 Military Pay Charts|
|2014||1.0||2.9||5.6%||2014 Military Pay Charts|
|2013||1.7||2.8||3.7%||2013 Military Pay Charts|
|2012||1.6||2.8||2.6%||2012 Military Pay Charts|
|2011||1.4||2.9||1.4%||2011 Military Pay Charts|
|2010||3.4||3.0||1.9%||2010 Military Pay Charts|
Types of Military Pay – Base Pay & Allowances
Military members generally receive two types of compensation: base pay, which is based on their pay grade and time and service, and allowances, which can be based on many factors.
Base pay is only impacted by the servicemember’s pay grade and time in service. It is not impacted by their branch of service, career field (MOS, Rating, or AFSC), or other factors.
Many servicemembers also receive certain allowances on top of their base pay. These can include:
- BAH – Basic Allowance for Housing
- BAS – Basic Allowance for Subsistence (food allowance)
- Flight Pay
- Sea Duty Pay
- Hazardous Duty Pay
- Family Separation Pay
- Special Duty Pay
- and more.
Some of these allowances may be tax-free.
Officer Pay Explained
Most officers join the military in the ranks of O-1 through O-3, depending on their contract and experience. Some officers, particularly those with prior civilian experience in the medical or legal fields, may join at a higher rank, or may receive advanced promotions, depending on their skills, civilian experience, and the contract they signed.
There are caps to how much General Officers can earn. Basic pay for an O-7 to O-10 is limited by Level II of the Executive Schedule. Basic pay for O-6 and below is limited by Level V of the Executive Schedule. These caps are removed when the service member retires.
Prior Enlisted Officer Pay Details
Prior enlisted officers may receive higher pay based on their time in service and other criteria. The pay is primarily based on their time in service, but they may also earn slightly higher BAH and other benefits. In general, this pay rate is available to officers in the ranks of O-1 through O-3 who served at least 4 years on active duty as an enlisted member or Warrant Officer (or who earned 1,460 points in the Guard or Reserves). The Department of Defense Financial Management Regulations (DoDFMR) provides more details regarding who is eligible the prior-enlisted officer basic pay rate. Prior enlisted officer pay is denoted in the following pay tables as O-1E, O-2E, and O-3E.
Warrant Officer Pay
Most Warrant Officers are prior enlisted members and will have time in service when they become a Warrant Officer. Their pay will reflect the number of years served when they achieve the rank of Warrant Officer.
Enlisted Pay Explained
Enlisted members generally start off in the ranks of E-1 through E-3, depending upon the contract they signed when they joined the military. It is possible to gain advanced promotions through E-6, depending upon your military specialty and the contract you signed when you joined.
There are a few specific pay scales for certain enlisted members, including the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy or Coast Guard, Chief Master Sergeant of the AF, Sergeant Major of the Army or Marine Corps or Senior Enlisted Advisor of the JCS.
The basic pay rate for Academy Cadets/Midshipmen and ROTC members/applicants is $974.40 per month.