Understanding military ranks can be tricky, especially if you are a civilian. There are at least 12 ranks in each branch of service. Ranks exist in disciplined forces to help in management and leadership. The ranks establish a clear chain of command and empowers leaders to make decisions.
Most people who join the military hope to rise to the highest rank possible. A pay increase usually accompanies every advancement. This article looks at some of the highest paying ranks in the U.S. Military.
The Highest U.S. Military Rank
The highest rank in the U.S. military is the five-star general. Only nine Americans have ever had the honor of getting to the highest rank. The last time anyone earned a promotion to the rank of five-star general was during World War II.
The U.S. military created this rank at the height of World War II. The aim was to establish a clear hierarchy for commanding the Allied Forces. Five-star generals never retire and draw active duty salaries until they die. After the last surviving five-star general in 1981, the U.S. military decided to retire this rank.
Pay in the military follows increases from Private to General. As a result, privates are the lowest paid, and generals take home the biggest paycheck. However, ranks and pay grades are two different things. In most cases, there are several paygrades within a rank.
The Highest U.S. Military Paygrade
The highest paygrade in the U. S military is O-10 (General or Admiral). The “O” stands for the commissioned officer, and the “10” stands for paygrade position. Generally, paygrades fall into Enlisted, Warrant Officer, and Commissioned Officer.
The first letter of a paygrade refers to the three classes. It can be E, W, or O. For instance, E-1 is the paygrade for Private in the Army and Marine Corps. Although pay grades are standard across all military branches, ranks vary. The Army and the Marine Corps use similar ranks.
Likewise, the Navy and the Coast Guard mirror each other. The Air Force uses a slightly different ranking system. Their lowest rank is a Basic Seaman, and the highest is the Admiral.
Private is the lowest rank in both the Army and Marine Corps. In the Navy and Coast Guard, the lowest rank is Seaman Recruit. However, in the Air Force, the lowest rank is the Airman Basic. All these military personnel fall under the E-1 and receive the same pay.
What is the Highest Pay in the Military?
Generals get the highest pay in the Army, Marine Corps, and the Air Force. The Navy and Coast Guard equivalent of a general is the Admiral. Despite the different designations, all these people fall under the pay grade of O-10.
According to the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act, Generals get about $197 301. This is just the basic pay. Additionally, all military personnel gets various allowances.
Housing allowance subsidizes housing while in deployment. Subsistence allowance caters to food and drink. Finally, hazard pay is compensation for dangerous duties while on active duty. The maximum hostile fire pay any service member can claim in a month is $ 225.
What is the Lowest Paying Rank?
Private, Seaman Recruit, and Airman Basic are the lowest paying ranks in the U.S. Military. These are entry-level ranks in the Army, Marine Corps, Coastal Guard, Navy, and the Air force.
The lowest ranks fall under the E-1 pay grade. An E-1 takes home $1750 per month in basic pay. That payment drops to $1650 if they have less than four months of service.
Four-star General is currently the highest paying rank in the U.S. Military. However, these decorated servicemen fall under the O-10 paygrade.
Admirals fall under the same paygrade, except they refer to the Navy or Coast Guards. Five-star generals are less common are mostly reserved for wartime.