US service members
US service members across all branches conduct state funeral services for former President George H. W. Bush.
Spc. James Harvey/US Army

US troops are paid a lot.

Their rank, time in service, location of duty station, family members, and job specialty are just a few of the factors that affect the answer to that question.

Government healthcare and tax-free portions of their pay help service members stretch their earnings a bit more than civilians.

We broke down their base pay for each rank. Some service members spend more time in each rank than we have calculated, while others spend less time and promote more quickly.

Factors like housing allowance are often a large portion of their compensation. warrant officers' years of service can vary a lot.

Rules for promotions and an "up or out" policy dictate how long a service member can remain in the military.

You can find the military pay chart here.

Base pay for each rank is shown here.

Senior Airmen Air Force flag retirement ceremony
Senior Airmen conduct a flag folding presentation during a retirement ceremony in 2019.
Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes/US Air Force

Service members who are promoted to E-4 usually have at least two years of service. A senior airman, a soldier, a marine, and a naval officer are listed.

If an E3 doesn't advance in pay grade after two years, their pay will go up to $2,296.

The pay will go up to $2,515 per month for those who make E-4 with two years. After just one year at this pay grade, some service members will be promoted to the next rank, while others will get a pay raise after three years of service.

Audie Murphy To Hell and Back sergeant Army
Audie Murphy holds his son on the set of the autobiographical film "To Hell and Back," wearing an Army Sergeant's uniform.
Bettmann/Getty Images

With as little as three years in service, troops can get promoted to E-5. Staff Sergeant, Sergeant, and 2nd Class are the ranks.

The troops will get a new paycheck of $2,920 per month.

Service members will usually spend three years at this pay grade. During that time, they don't advance in rank, but their pay and time in service will increase.

The E-5 will make $3,058 a month after four years. Even if they don't promote, their pay will go up again, even if they don't.

Navy first class petty officers sailors
First class petty officers from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower participate in a community relations project. The logo on their t-shirts is an alteration of the Navy's E-6 insignia, which shows an eagle perched on top of three inverted chevrons and the sailor's job specialty badge.
Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Patrick Grieco/US Navy

It is rare for a service member to achieve the rank of E 6.

A "E6 with six" earns $3,548 per month.

After two more years in the service, the monthly salary will increase to $3,864, equating to $46,368 annually.

It is possible to achieve the next higher pay grade before serving for 10 years. If an E6 doesn't advance by then, they'll still get a pay raise and take home $3,987 a month.

After their enlistment date, their next pay raise occurs 12 years later, at which point they will make $4,225 a month.

R. Lee Ermey Full Metal Jacket Gunnery Sgt.
The late Marine and actor R. Lee Ermey as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket.

It can be done if you have less than 10 years of service.

After 10 years of service, those who achieve this milestone will be paid $4,302 a month.

If a service member retires at this pay grade, their pay will increase every two years until they are eligible to retire. They will make $5,232 a month when they reach 20 years of age.

Each service member has a cap on how long they can stay. If a service member doesn't make it to the next rank, they won't be able to re-enlist. The cap in the Navy is 24 years for chiefs of naval intelligence.

The chief makes $5,528 a month.

senior chief petty officer US Navy
A US Navy senior chief petty officer's cover, with the emblem of an anchor and its chain, USN, and a silver star.
Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class James Foehl/US Navy

Senior Master Sgt., 1st Sgt., Master Sgt., or 1st Sgt. can be promoted to E-8.

They will get $5,078 per month at that time.

After 20 years of service, troops who retire as E-8s will get a monthly salary of $5,860.

They'll get raises every two years if they stay in that position.

The E-8 makes $6,626 a month.

More than 29 years of service is not allowed for 1st Sgt. or Sgt. Maj.

Chief Master Sergeant US Air Force
The Chief Master Sergeant insignia is seen on jackets prepared for an induction ceremony. Less than 1% of US Air Force enlisted personnel are promoted to the rank.
Airman 1st Class Randy Burlingame/US Air Force

There are anywhere from 15 to 30 years of experience for E-9s. They are Chief Master Sgt., Sgt. Maj., Master Gunnery Sgt., or Sergeant Maj.

Service members with at least 15 years of experience will be paid $6,279 a month.

When they reach 16 years of age, they will get their next pay raise and take home over $6,000 a month.

When they reach retirement eligibility, they'll take home $81,480 a year.

When E-9s are allowed to stay in the military up to 32 years, they will make $9,151 per year.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. USS Ponce
A Navy lieutenant commander talks with pilots from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26 from the USS Ponce while the ship is deployed to the Arabian Gulf in 2014.
Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Peter Blair/US Navy/Flickr/Creative Commons

Military officers spend an average of 10 years in the service once they reach the rank of O-4. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Lieutenant Cmdr., Navy

A lieutenant commander with a decade of experience gets $7,891 per month. Every two years, the officer's pay increases.

If an officer wants to take home more than 105,660, they will have to promote to O-5.

US service members
US service members across all branches conduct state funeral services for former President George H. W. Bush.
Spc. James Harvey/US Army

The base pay at the lower ranks is not very high.

Extra allowances may be available for troops who get a number of benefits.

The military's primary healthcare package is free for active duty troops and it was estimated to save single-payers over $6,000 a year.

Service members who are eligible to live off base receive a basic allowance for housing, which increases at each pay grade, and the exact amount is set based on location. In expensive duty locations, service members receive a cost of living allowance, which helps cover the cost of food. In order to pay for their uniforms, enlisted personnel receive a stipend.

The government doesn't tax any portion of a service member's salary that is labeled as an allowance.

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