Military Pay Scale: Various Types of Compensation for Military Members

Military Pay Scale – The pay provided by the government for the military service members is aimed to be balanced with civilian income, alongside the offered extra benefits. If you are looking forward to or at least planning to join enlistment, then this concise insight into military pay scale and its types can help you understand how the matters work.

Military Pay Scale

Military Base Compensation

When the term military pay scale comes up, it is the base compensation or basic pay that’s being talked about. Basic pay for each member depends on whether they’re an officer or enlisted soldier, their rank, and the amount of serving years they’ve completed.

The base military pay scale is similar for any branch and it is considered as taxable income. For an instance, someone who’s currently a level of E-1 in 2021 may expect to earn $1,650 monthly as their basic pay. Another instance is $3,400 monthly basic pay for a commissioned office that’s in 0-1 level in 2021.

The base pay is adjusted annually according to the increasing cost-of-living, by the U.S. Congress. The members can also expect increased earnings due to promotions, merit-based raises, and their number of serving years.

Military Allowances and Special Incentives

The basic military pay scale is only one type of the many variations of military member’s compensation. Here are some of the most common types of payment they may receive:


Allowances received by military members are considered as non-taxable income. These usually cover meals, uniforms, or housing. To provide an example, housing allowances are offered for the members who aren’t living on base or housing provided by the government. The amounts of Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) may vary according to family size, rank, and location.

Special and Incentive Pay

Unlike allowances, special and incentive pays are to be taxed. These earnings are offered as additional compensation for more specialized, higher-risk, or less-desirable works – for example, submarine or aviation duty. The amount may vary as well, depending on the hardship level of duty and location.

Combat Zone Tax Exclusion (CZTE)

One of the most significant pay in the military is earned compensation for serving in the combat zone. This income is not subjected to federal tax for the entire month, even if it’s only a single day serving in a combat zone. The exempted tax benefits apply as well for the provided special pay while working in a combat zone, with exception of Medicare and Social Security taxes.

Military Bonuses

There are several bonus types offered by the military to promote enlistment and boost commitment. Here are a few examples of them:

  • Enlistment bonus: Provided for selecting and being qualified in the high-demand occupational specialty in the military.
  • Quick ship bonus: Provided for presenting to training within a month (30 days) of enlistment.
  • Selective Reenlistment Bonus: Provided for extending or resigning to enlist for a minimum of three years after serving on active duty for a minimum of 17 months.
  • Continuation Pay Bonus: Provided for committing to additional four years of service after at least 12 years serving.
  • Critical Skills Retention Bonus (CSRB): Provided for serving in an appointed risky area on active duty for a minimum of one year.

The military pay and benefits are available as public information, so anyone can understand what to expect if they consider a career in enlistment. This is unlike the private sector jobs, where the earnings are kept confidential until someone is offered the job.

Knowing about the military pay scale might offer you a more extensive picture of the benefits and drawbacks of serving, and help you to determine if this career path is truly what you desire to pursue. After all, research is the key when it comes to basically any job searching.


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