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How Much Does a Sergeant in the Army Make?

Military Pay Scale

While many people know that rank is based on merit in the military, most do not understand that the military pay scale is based on rank and time in service. There are nine enlisted ranks, labeled E-1 through E-9. Enlisted individuals are awarded the status of E-1 when they arrive at basic training. They achieve higher ranks based on length of service, education and training, and other factors.

A standard pay scale is used for all ranks in all branches of the United States military. Education, training, as well as years of experience, affect the levels of pay. Variations may exist due to bonuses, hazardous duty, and other factors. Base pay ranges by rank and years of service.

Salaries for all United States military personnel are the same for a given rank, regardless of service branch. This means that the base salary of an E-5 in the Army is the same for an E-5 in the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps before any additional bonuses like Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), or Combat Pay are applied. An E-5 United States Army Sergeant receives E-5 salary after promotion or appointment to the rank. Often, this requires a commanding officer’s recommendation or, in some instances, a direct appointment to the rank based on a “shortage specialty.”

While each rank has its own pay scale, the range of pay within a rank differs by the amount of time in service. This is how much time the soldier, sailor, Marine, or Airman has spent in military service. For example, an E-5 with greater than two years in service will have an annual base salary of $28,720.80. At four years of service, they will make an annual base salary of $33,652.80. Also another two years of service for a total of six years of service they will earn an annual base salary of $36,018.00.

How do you become an E-5?

Promotion to E-5 can come in several ways. The traditional approach is from the entrance into service as an E-1 and progressing up through the ranks to E-5, and further. Another avenue is a promotion due to a commanding officer’s recommendation. Soldiers can advance without that recommendation. However, they must spend a qualifying 36 months in service and then successfully pass review by a local promotion board.

Also, in recognition of the United States Army’s need for enlisted personnel with special qualifications, usually in a STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) or “shortage specialty”, soldiers can now advance to E-5 through direct appointment or “according to the needs of the Army” and skip some other ranks including that of E-1.

The United States Army has never required a college degree or even a partial college credits for promotion to sergeant. However, college education in STEM fields can place a soldier on the “shortage specialty” list that accelerates advancement or can earn a direct appointment to E-5.

In addition to future advancement from sergeant, an E-5 must complete the United States Army’s Basic Leader Course. The course is a month-long training course that prepares soldiers for leadership. Early completion of the course more than assures eligibility for promotion. However, sergeants can be recommended for promotion without it, but won’t receive the promotion until they have completed the course. Nevertheless, course completion doesn’t guarantee a promotion.

What is a Sergeant in the Army?

The United States military has a different title for every rank in every branch. In the United States Army, the E-5 or Fifth Level of the Enlisted Ranks is a sergeant. A sergeant is considered a Non-commissioned Officer (NCO), with a pay grade of E-5.

As a soldier in the United States Army, sergeants enjoy a unique status in the United States Army hierarchy, as they directly command soldiers in lower grades and often receive orders straight from commissioned officers commanding them.

Sergeants are responsible for the caretaking, training, equipping, physical appearance and fitness, and well-being of the soldiers assigned under them. They are also held accountable for the personal lives of their soldiers and charged with making sure they are in order by helping them with instruction and correction when problems are identified.

Soldiers at the rank of sergeant often serve as squad leaders who are usually groups of eight to fourteen soldiers. Occasionally, sergeants are given command of teams, which are smaller than squads, when there exists an excess of non-commissioned officers (NCO’s) in the rank of sergeant or above.

As a non-commissioned officer (NCO), sergeants often have more time in service and combat than the junior officers who command them. Consequently, the best-performing troops are sometimes influenced by sergeants and junior officers who are comfortable with their shared command.

Now you understand the duties, title, rank, and base pay of an E-5, also known as a sergeant, in the United States Army.

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