An Army sergeant first class is a senior non-commissioned officer.
An Army sergeant first class is a senior non-commissioned officer.

The rank E-7 in the U.S. Army stands for sergeant first class (SFC) and is the seventh enlisted rank. A sergeant first class is a non-commissioned officer and often serves as a platoon sergeant. A SFC is one rank above staff sergeant and one below master sergeant. The Army considers an E-7 officer to be the highest rank in the mid-level range of Army positions.

Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Responsibilities

An E-7 rank is the first level at which the term senior non-commissioned officer officially applies. A SFC is the first-line advisor to the platoon leader and has the primary responsibility of training and caring for soldiers in the platoon. He teaches his soldiers how to perform group and individual tasks to ensure the viability and success of the mission or operation. In the platoon leader's absence, the SFC takes control of the platoon.

Previous Experience

A platoon sergeant or sergeant first class generally has a minimum of 15 to 18 years of previous military experience to rank as an E-7. Platoon sergeant is a duty position, not a rank. He is expected to use that experience to make efficient, precise military decisions -- sometimes at a moment's notice -- to fulfill the mission and protect soldiers under his command. Typically the SFC has several staff sergeants who work under his direct leadership. He must have strong leadership skills, people skills and the ability to communicate clearly and effectively.

Pay Grade and Allowances

A sergeant first class receives a monthly salary starting at $2,637 per month, increasing to $4,740 per month after 26 years of service, according to 2015 salary data at Military-Ranks.org. In addition to the basic pay, a sergeant first class with an E-7 rank may receive allowances for housing and food and additional incentive pay for dangerous duties. For example, he might receive an additional $250 per month for family separation, $325.04 for food and $225 for working in an area that has hostile fire. He might also receive a personal allowance up to $961.80 for additional living expenses if he has a dependent, such as a child.

Promotion Protocol

A five-member Centralized Promotion Board at the Army's headquarters reviews a SFC's records to determine if he's eligible and deserving of a promotion. The SFC's unit or battalion has little, if anything, to do with the promotion process. The five-member board discusses and scores the SFC's military decorations, dates of service, assignments, duty positions, performance reports, educational achievements, military training and records of disciplinary actions to determine eligibility. Soldiers may write to the president of the promotion board, citing reasons why they believe they should receive a promotion.