U.S. uniformed services pay grades

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Pay grades are used by the uniformed services of the United States to determine wages and benefits based on the corresponding military rank of a member of the services. While different titles or ranks may be used among the seven uniformed services, pay grades are uniform and equivalent between the services and can be used to quickly determine seniority among a group of members from different services. They are also essential when determining a member's entitlements such as basic pay and allowances.

Pay grades are divided into three groups: enlisted (E), warrant officer (W), and officer (O). Enlisted pay grades begin at E-1 and finish at E-9; warrant officer pay grades begin at W-1 and finish at W-5; and officer pay grades begin at O-1 and finish at O-10. Not all of the uniformed services use all of the grades; for example, the Navy does not use the grade W-1, the Air Force discontinued use of the warrant grades in the 1960s, and both the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration do not use any of the enlisted or warrant grades in their entirety.

Members in pay grades O-1, O-2, and O-3 with more than four years of prior cumulative service in an enlisted or warrant officer grade are paid increased wages using the special pay grades of O-1E, O-2E, and O-3E, respectively. This benefit does not affect their rank and is used simply for reward and incentive purposes in recognition of their prior enlisted experience.

For pay tables and information on specific pay grade wages and entitlements for members of the uniformed services, see United States military pay.

Equivalent grades in NATO armed forces[edit]

The enlisted grades correspond with the NATO rank codes, with E-1 being equivalent to OR-1, E-2 equivalent to OR-2, and so on. The officer grades are all one higher than their NATO equivalent (except O-1) as the O-1 and O-2 grades are both equivalent to the NATO code of OF-1. Hence O-3 is equivalent to OF-2, O-4 is equivalent to OF-3, and so on. The NATO system does not have an equivalent of the U.S. warrant officer grades.

Enlisted pay grades[edit]

Pay grade Rank by branch of service
Marine Corps Army Air Force Navy Coast Guard
E-1 Private Private Airman basic Seaman recruit Seaman recruit
E-2 Private first class Private Airman Seaman apprentice Seaman apprentice
E-3 Lance corporal Private first class Airman first class Seaman Seaman
E-4 Corporal Senior airman Petty officer third class Petty officer third class
E-5 Sergeant Sergeant Staff sergeant Petty officer second class Petty officer second class
E-6 Staff sergeant Staff sergeant Technical sergeant Petty officer first class Petty officer first class
E-7 Gunnery sergeant Sergeant first class Master sergeant Chief petty officer Chief petty officer
  • Master sergeant
  • First sergeant
Senior master sergeant Senior chief petty officer Senior chief petty officer

Warrant officer pay grades[edit]

Pay grade Rank by branch of service
Army Marine Corps Navy Coast Guard Air Force
W-1 Warrant officer 1 Warrant officer 1 not used not used discontinued
W-2 Chief warrant officer 2 Chief warrant officer 2 Chief warrant officer 2 Chief warrant officer 2 discontinued
W-3 Chief warrant officer 3 Chief warrant officer 3 Chief warrant officer 3 Chief warrant officer 3 discontinued
W-4 Chief warrant officer 4 Chief warrant officer 4 Chief warrant officer 4 Chief warrant officer 4 discontinued
W-5 Chief warrant officer 5 Chief warrant officer 5 Chief warrant officer 5 not used NA

Officer pay grades[edit]

Pay grade Rank by branch of services
Army Marine Corps Navy Air Force Coast Guard Public Health Service
Commissioned Corps
Commissioned Officer Corps


Second lieutenant Second lieutenant Ensign Second lieutenant Ensign Ensign Ensign


First Lieutenant First lieutenant Lieutenant (junior grade) First lieutenant Lieutenant (junior grade) Lieutenant (junior grade) Lieutenant (junior grade)


Captain Captain Lieutenant Captain Lieutenant Lieutenant Lieutenant
O-4 Major Major Lieutenant commander Major Lieutenant commander Lieutenant commander Lieutenant commander
O-5 Lieutenant colonel Lieutenant colonel Commander Lieutenant colonel Commander Commander Commander
O-6 Colonel Colonel Captain Colonel Captain Captain Captain
O-7 Brigadier general Brigadier general Rear admiral (lower half) Brigadier general Rear admiral (lower half) Rear admiral (lower half) Rear admiral (lower half)
O-8 Major general Major general Rear admiral Major general Rear admiral Rear admiral Rear admiral
O-9 Lieutenant general Lieutenant general Vice admiral Lieutenant general Vice admiral Vice admiral Vice admiral
O-10 General General Admiral General Admiral Admiral Admiral (no appointments)
O-11 General of the Army* N/A Fleet admiral* General of the Air Force* N/A N/A N/A

* Note: The ranks of general of the Army, general of the Air Force, and fleet admiral (Navy) are considered special ranks that can be conferred in wartime only. While it is still possible for an officer to be selected for these ranks, they do not appear on the current military pay grade scale.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]