Military pay scales are not hard to read.

The U.S. military pays its troops a standardized rate that changes every year with the cost of living. The rate you are paid depends on your rank and the amount of time you have been in the military. There are two pay scales--one for officers and one for enlisted personnel. These factors should need considered when reading a military pay chart.

Figure out your rank code. While the codes are standardized, the titles are not. For example, an E-2 is a private in the Army, an airman in the Air Force, a seaman apprentice in the Navy and a private first class in the Marine Corps. The E stands for "enlisted" and the 2 shows how far you are up the promotion scale (where the highest level is 9).

Calculate how much time you have been in the armed forces.

Find your rank code on the left-hand side of the chart.

Find your years in service on the top of the chart.

Find the point where these two axes intersect. This is your monthly pay rate. For example, an Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps major (Naval lieutenant commander) is an O-4. If he has been in the service for between eight and 10 years in 2010, he will be paid $5831.70 a month.

Things Needed

  • ['A pay scale', 'Your rank', 'Your time in service']


  • Make sure you use the special calculations if you are an officer who started out as an enlisted man.


  • Be careful not to mix up your rank title, particularly if you are in the Navy, which uses different titles than the other branches.