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Top 10 Navy Ratings in 2019

Navy divers don’t go in to the office every day. They don’t even breathe the same air as us. Credit:

The Navy offers over 200 different jobs, known as ratings, for enlisted sailors. With so many options, it’s hard to narrow them down to the top 10 Navy ratings.

Of course, the higher score you get on your ASVAB and the more schooling you have under your belt, the greater your opportunities are. But what makes these 10 Navy ratings the best, anyway? Well, we used three factors to determine our final list.

  • Do sailors with the particular rating enjoy it? For the most accurate information, we’re looking at, which has thousands of reviews for almost any job out there.
  • Is the position highly compensated? We’re using average salaries according to These can range greatly based on a sailor’s rank and experience.
  • Does the job have a direct civilian equivalent? Are you gonna get hired when you leave the military? 

So based on enjoyment, compensation and civilian hireability, here are the top 10 Navy ratings in 2019.

For more, read our top 10 Army MOSs


10. Cryptologic Technician (CT)

Anyone adept with computers could be good in this rating. They analyze and break electronic codes, maintain top-secret networks, and probably know at least one other language. 

Review: “The Navy is where I learned all my information security knowledge. There is a deep understanding and unspoken respect for Navy network technicians.”

Average compensation: $47,000.

Civilian equivalent? YES. There is high demand for translators, especially if you are able to understand more than two different languages. Otherwise, you can always find a suitable career in IT.


9. Air Traffic Controller (AC)

ATC is an unseen but vital part of aviation. The main duties here are to track airplanes and give them takeoff and landing instructions, ensuring that every part of a flight goes smoothly and without a hitch. It’s a demanding but rewarding job, which is why it lands in our top 10 Navy ratings.

Review: “If I could have stayed until the ripe old age of 80, I would have. I learned to think through stressful situations and act quickly. The best part of the Navy was meeting thousands of different people and making some really great friends.”

Average compensation: $52,722.

Civilian equivalent? YES. Air traffic control is needed at literally every working airport. Many veterans who worked with planes in the military go on to work with them as civilians. 

An Air Traffic Controller reading a radar. Credit: Careers in the Military.

8. Hospital Corpsman (HM)

For anyone looking to enter the medical field, this is your ticket in. Hospital Corpsmen work as assistants to medical and dental professionals; they could work as clinicians or possess a specialty. Some even choose administrative work. The sky’s the limit for skills learned here.

Review: “The best job in the Navy is Hospital Corpsman, see the world and enjoy your job with the Marines; they’re memories that will last a lifetime.”

Average compensation: $36,659.

Civilian equivalent? YES. The medical field is one of the most lucrative today in the civilian world.


7. Intelligence Specialist (IS)

Is being behind the scenes more your style? Then IS could be the rating for you. These sailors process and analyze intel that the Navy uses to defeat its enemies. Primary duties include establishing regular records and communication, and assessing the significance and reliability of information. 

Review: “I couldn’t have received any better training anywhere. We worked long hours especially after 9/11. It was very rewarding work. After 25 1/2 years of service I retired. The hardest part of the job and the most enjoyable part of the job are one in the same. Counterterrorism. It is a tricky business. But when you get it just right you get your man!”

Average compensation: $57,089.

Civilian equivalent? YES. Working in intel provides sailors with critical skills that translate to many high-profile jobs in the civilian world. Top agencies to work for after military service are the CIA and NSA.


6. Naval Reactors Engineer (NR)

This Officer job is for top-notch engineers looking for work in the nuclear field. They maintain and do research in naval laboratories, nuclear training sites, shipyards, and nuclear-powered ships and submarines. 

Review: “Great pay and benefits, advancement depends on the contracted rate. Great camaraderie between sailors and recruits. Challenging and stressful environment, encouraging growth in skills and character.”

Average compensation: $97,409.

Civilian equivalent? YES. Nuclear engineers in the civvie world do pretty much exactly the same stuff. And the transfer from military working for government to civilian working for government won’t be a huge one. 


5. Aviation Machinist Mate (AD)

Aviation Machinist Mates know how to fix and maintain aircraft engines. They maintain these systems in a variety of environments, and can even fly as part of an aircrew. Not only is their job vitally important, but it’s a great industry with lots of learning and advancement opportunities. 

Review: “The Navy provided me the ability to improve my life in all ways. Coming from living out of my car as a 17 year old, joining was one of the best decisions I could have made. Nearly 10 years later, no other organization could have made me as marketable and self-sufficient as I am today.”

Average compensation: $52,664.

Civilian equivalent? YES, YES, YES. Coming out of the Navy and into civilian aviation, you’re bound to have a ton of open doors. The average salary for an aviation mechanic in the U.S. is about $55,000 – but there’s always room to learn more skills and grow with the industry.

Two Machinist Mates work on an airplane. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

4. Naval Flight Officer (NFO)

NFOs act as a co-pilot or systems operators to Navy pilots, performing a variety of duties. This can include operating weapons systems, sensor systems, and taking over for the pilot if something goes astray.

Review: “The U.S. Navy is an outstanding place to build successful life habits of leadership, team-building, teamwork, social skills, inspiring, empowering on the job, quick paced aviation skills, safety, attention to detail, develop situational awareness, build a technical mind, and much much more.”

Average compensation: $95,948.

Civilian equivalent? YEP – just as the world needs pilots, it needs co-pilots, too. And chances are you probably have the skills to take the top-dog position in commercial piloting. 


3. Aviation Rescue Swimmer (AIRR)

This is a high-pressure job. As one of the top emergency response units in the world, lives are literally on the line in this line of work. But if you really want to make a difference – one you can feel – this could be just the job for you. 

Review: “Very fast and challenging. Best known secret in the US Armed Forces. Became a Helicopter Rescue Swimmer and had the best job in the world for more than 8 years. The most challenging, difficult, dangerous but rewarding and fun job anyone could ever have!”

Average compensation: $48,311.

Civilian equivalent? YES and NO. While the Navy and Coast Guard usually perform the biggest rescue missions at sea, the skills learned in this job translate great to other emergency response jobs, like being a police officer or EMT. 

Navy Rescue Swimmer School. Credit: Navy Dads.

2. Naval Aviator 

Navy pilot is #1 on our list of top 10 Navy ratings. Most people can agree that it just doesn’t get much better than piloting, whether you’re looking for fulfillment or great compensation. 

Review: “Being a Naval Aviator is the best thing I’ve ever done in life. The sense of price and accomplishment from being part of something larger than yourself is without equal.”

Average compensation: Around $100,000.

Civilian equivalent? YES. As mentioned before, the aviation industry is excellent employment – especially when you already have your foot in the door. With flying experience in the Navy you are almost automatically guaranteed a job doing the same thing out of uniform. 


1. Navy Diver (ND)

If you’re joining the Navy, why not have a career underwater? Divers do a range of things, from run-of-the-mill underwater repairs and maintenance to exciting submarine rescues. Learning how to stay calm in deep water and function well prepares you for any kind of high-pressure environment that life may throw at you.

Review: “Navy Divers have the best quality of life in the Navy. Good pay, and you get a chance to travel the world and do cool stuff.”

Average compensation: $58,220.

Civilian equivalent? YES. Commercial diving is a thing, and pays well. Take pictures of underwater life, help novice divers gain their fins (or flippers, as it may be), and show tourists the beauty of the sea.


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