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What the troops make
A military salary starts with basic pay, but that's only part of the picture.
November 11, 2005: 5:14 PM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - A military salary starts with "basic pay," or what a service member earns before all incentives, allowances, bonuses and benefits (see table below).

These incentives and benefits can make a difference. Consider these examples from the Department of Defense.

A married Air Force Captain who has been in the service for eight years, currently stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, makes a basic annual salary of $55,040.40.

She may also get a $13,212 annual housing allowance and a subsistence allowance of $2,207.88. That would mean she gets total cash pay of $70,460.28 a year, part of which is non-taxable.

An unmarried Marine Corporal stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, Calif., might take home a total of about $25,738 after four years of service, according to a DOD example.

And an Army recruit may be eligible for a signing bonus of up to $20,000 and up to $67,000 in tuition aid, bringing the annual take on a four year stint to over $45,000, according to a spokeswomen at the Army recruiting office.

If any of these people decide to stay in the military for 20 years, they can retire with health coverage and 50 percent of their salary for the rest of their life. If they wait 30 years, they'll get 75 percent of their salary.

At the very top, a married four-star Army general serving on the Joint Chiefs of Staff with more than 26 years of military service would make about $182,910 a year, according to the Department of Defense.

While that might seem like a lot, a typical corporate CEO earned about $5.7 million in 2004, according to the research group the Corporate Library. And remember too, the fatality rate for services members serving in Iraq is roughly five times that of logging, which according to the Labor Department was most dangerous stateside job in 2004.  Top of page

Grade Army Rank Time in Service Base pay, annual After 10 years
in the service
Over 26 years
in the service
E1 Private More than 4 mos. $14,841.20 N/A N/A
E2 Private 2 years or less $16,614.00 N/A N/A
E3 Private 1st Class 2 years or less $17,474.40 N/A N/A
E4 Corporal or Specialist 4 2 years or less $19,353.60 N/A N/A
E5 Sergeant 2 years or less $21,114.00 $29,059.20 $29,408.40
E6 Staff Sergeant 2 years or less $23,043.60 $32,245.20 $34,898.40
E7 Sergeant 1st Class 2 years or less $26,640.00 $35,906.40 $47,880.00
E8 Master Sergeant or 1st Sergeant 8 years $38.322.10 $40,017.60 $53,582.40
E9 Sergeant Major 10 years $46,814.40 $46,814.40 $62,780.40
W1 Warrant Officer 2 years or less $27,482.40 $37,756.80 $43,916.40
W2 Warrant Officer - 2 2 years or less $31,122.00 $41,256.00 $50,968.80
W3 Warrant Officer - 3 2 years or less $35,380.80 $44,661.60 $58,575.60
W4 Chief Warrant Officer - 4 2 years or less $38,743.20 $50,115.60 $67,636.80
W5 Chief Warrant Officer - 5 N/A N/A N/A $73,454.40
O1 2nd Lieutenant 2 years or less $28,123.20 $35,377.20 $35,377.20
O2 1st Lieutenant 2 years or less $32,392.80 $44,834.40 $44,834.40
O3 Captain 2 years or less $37,494.00 $56,743.20 $60,998.40
O4 Major 2 years or less $42,645.60 $63,810.00 $71,204.40
O5 Lieutenant Colonel 2 years or less $49,424.40 $67,266.00 $83,970.00
O6 Colonel 2 years or less $59,288.40 $73,054.80 $102,906.00
O7 Brigadier General 2 years or less $79,992.00 $94,539.60 $117,165.60
O8 Major General 2 years or less $96,267.60 $110,084.40 $132,091.20
O9 Lieutenant General 20 years $136,054.80 N/A $145,789.20
O10 General 20 years $155,556.00 N/A $165,232.80
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