Reader Question: How much will I be paid as an officer in the Navy?

I’ve received a few questions about this recently, so here’s the answer:

Here is the 2015 military pay scale for all Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force officers:

One of the funny aspects of military life is that we all know what everyone else makes. Sometimes when a group of peers are out to dinner and it comes time to pay the bill, someone will say something like, “Lets split it evenly. We all can afford it.” This sounds pretty presumptuous, and it is, but this kind of group think exists because everyone is paid the same.

Sometimes peers who have different jobs have a slight pay differential. This differential is due to deployment and detachment schedules, where they are stationed, and what they do. There are cost of living bumps and special deployment and detachment-related pay bumps, like hazard pay. I think, technically speaking, a SEAL officer might make more than, say, an intel officer stationed on an aircraft carrier, but that is only because of pay bumps the SEAL officer receives for hazard pay, imminent danger pay, etc; the pay bumps are good, but not good enough to make them wealthy.

In my experience, an officer’s marital status is the single thing that affects an officer’s financial wellbeing the most; namely, if they are married, their spouse’s income sets them apart. I often hear people comment that single officers, especially those O-3 and above, are “swimming in money”. They’re not, but they may be able to afford a nicer car because they do not have dependents to support. Other times, a O-3 may be more financially well-off than his or her CO if their spouse has a descent income. Along these same lines, the officer’s number of dependents affects their financial situation. This aspect of military pay is very similar to the civilian world.

The final difference between officers’ pay is related to retention bonuses. Some officers (and enlisted personnel) receive bonuses when they sign on for additional years of service because they perform a particularly essential job.

This is an old resource, but it explains the aviation retention bonuses nicely: This source does not include information about F/A-18 bonuses, but those pilots receive bonuses, too.

Please post in the comments if you can think of any other mitigating circumstances where an officer’s pay might change or differ from their peers. I probably forgot something(s)!

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