A soldier often puts his life on the line in the name of protecting the United States. As such, soldiers not only earn a base salary, but also receive additional income to pay for housing and food, as well as for special skills or for doing hazardous jobs. The base salary of a soldier depends on the person’s rank and, often, on the years of service.
A private classified as E1 earns the lowest salary, $1,638.30 a month. Once a soldier reaches the E2 classification as a private, the salary is up to $1,836.30 a month. A private first class, an E3 designation, starts at $1931.10 a month and, at two years, increases to $2,052.30 a month. At three years, the salary again increases to $2,176.80 a month.
A specialist or corporal is classified as E4, and the salary changes with the number of years of service. A soldier at this rank, who has less than two years’ experience, will earn $2,139 a month. A soldier at this rank will get a pay bump at two years, to $2,248.50 a month, and a year raise through year six, when monthly pay levels out at $2,596.50.
Sergeant Rank and Higher
Once a soldier reaches the rank of sergeant, he is considered a noncommissioned officer and is no longer referred to as an enlisted soldier. However, noncommissioned officers still follow the enlisted soldier pay scale. An E-5 sergeant earns $2,332.80 at the start and can reach up to $3,310.50 at the 12-year mark. An E-6 staff sergeant’s monthly salary ranges from $2,546.40 to $3,944.10 over the course of a career. Soldiers classified as E-7 start at $2,944.20 a month and reaches $5,921.40 at 26 years of service. An E-8 soldier’s income ranges from $4,235.40 to $6,040.50, while the highest classification, E-9, earns between $5,173.80 and $8,033.10 each month.
If a soldier has a specific skill that the Army deems valuable or is completing a risky duty, he might be eligible for special pay. For example, soldiers stationed in a location that’s considered substantially below the living conditions in the U.S. earn a Hardship Duty Pay, which is between $50 and $150 a month. Soldiers might also earn additional monthly income if they are certified in certain foreign languages, for being on diving duty, or, if they are out to sea or are working a position that demands extra responsibility, such as working as a fuel specialist.
However, the base salary is only one part of a soldier’s income; military personnel also receive a housing allowance, food allowance, tax advantages and healthcare without premiums.
Soldiers also have the opportunity to earn bonuses, as ways to increase their total income. For example, qualified soldiers can receive up to $10,000 as a bonus after they complete the Range Indoctrination program.