What Is the Army Pay Scale?

Army soldiers are paid to defend the country.
Army soldiers are paid to defend the country. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

While the base salary in the Amy may seem lower than that in civilian life, adding such benefits as housing, food, healthcare, special pay and tax-free allowances easily pushes total compensation to much higher levels. For example, a civilian police officer may earn a base salary of $49,953 per year, but minus healthcare costs, that amount becomes $36,368. A military police sergeant earns a base salary of $29,380, but the cost of additional benefits boosts net income to $53,960.

Active Duty

For enlisted men, active duty pay varies by rank and experience. For example, a private at grade E1 with less than two years experience make $17,611 annually as of 2011. A corporal (E4) with the same experience gets $22,993, and a staff sergeant (E6) makes $27,324. At four years of experience, that same staff sergeant receives $32,742 and at six years, he makes $34,088. For officers, second lieutenants (01) with two years get $33,408 annually, while captains (O3) earn $44,543. At six years of experience, captains receive $62,266.

Drill Pay

Army reservists earn drill pay for training two weeks each year and one weekend each month. Privates with two years of experience make a total of $3,033 per year, corporals earn $3,955, and staff sergeants receive $4,714. At four years of experience, sergeants make $5,639, and at six years, they get $5,871. For officers, second lieutenants with two years make $5,754, while captains earn $7,671. At six years of experience, captains are paid $10,724.

Special Pay

Soldiers can receive pay for special skills or duties. For example, those with jobs that incur extra responsibility, such as fuel specialist or parachuting instructor, earn special duty pay ranging from $75 to $450 per month. Those with foreign language skills can earn up to $1,000 per month on active duty and up to $6,000 per year in the reserves. Serving in areas where living conditions are below those in the U.S. grants hardship pay of $50 to $150 per week. Army divers earn up to $340 per month, while soldiers at sea can receive from $70 to $700 per month.


Soldiers who live on base receive several benefits for free such as housing and meals. Those who live off-base can receive more than $200 per month for a food allowance, and a housing allowance that varies by location. Other allowances include clothing for replacing uniforms and decorations, cost-of-living for high-cost areas in the continental U.S., moving and relocation for moving household goods, and $250 per month for serving away from the family.

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