Each of the four branches of the United States military has its own system and order of rank. Some ranks are common to all four branches and some are specific to one branch. Many who join the service begin at the lowest rank, although those who have college degrees can often start off their military careers as officers.
The lowest rank in the Army is private. There are two levels of private, PV1 and PV2, before advancing to private first class. After private first class, you can become either a corporal or a specialist, before moving up to sergeant. There are several ranks of sergeants, from regular sergeant to staff sergeant, sergeant first class, master sergeant, first sergeant, sergeant major and command sergeant major. The highest enlisted rank is sergeant major of the Army, a very high rank among non-commissioned officers. The sergeant major of the Army is the most senior enlisted person , and as such is the senior advisor to the chief of staff of the Army.
Officer ranks in the Army begin with second lieutenant and then advance to first lieutenant, captain, major, lieutenant colonel, colonel, brigadier general, major general, lieutenant general, general, and general of the Army.
The lowest Navy rank is seaman recruit. Seaman then move up to seaman apprentice, seaman, and the petty officer third, second, and then first class. Next is chief petty officer, senior chief petty officer and master chief petty officer. The top enlisted rank is master chief petty officer of the Navy, a rank similar to senior major of the Army.
Officer ranks begin with ensign and the advance to lieutenant junior grade, lieutenant, and lieutenant commander. Next in order are commander, captain, rear admiral lower half, rear admiral upper half, vice admiral, and admiral, ending with the highest officer rank of fleet admiral.
Marine Corps rankings are close to the Army’s at many levels. The lowest enlisted rank in the Marine Corps is private. Privates advance to private first class and then to lance corporal. Corporal, sergeant, staff sergeant, gunnery sergeant, master sergeant, first sergeant, master gunnery sergeant and sergeant major follow. The highest enlisted rank is sergeant major.
Marine Corps officer rankings are almost exactly the same as Army officer ranks, with the exception that they stop at general and go no higher.
Military rank in the Air Force differs from all other branches. The lowest enlisted rank in the Air Force is airman basic. Several more airman ranks follow, from airman to airman first class to senior airman. After that, you advance to the sergeant level, with ranks of staff sergeant, technical sergeant, master sergeant, master sergeant first sergeant, senior master sergeant, first sergeant, chief master sergeant (CMS), CMS first sergeant, and command chief master sergeant. The highest enlisted rank is chief master sergeant.
Officer ranks are exactly the same as those of the Marine Corps and Army, with general of the Air Force being above general and the highest officer rank.
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