A Breakdown of Navy Officer Pay, Enlisted Salary, and Benefits of Both

Navy officer pay-not unlike Marine, Army, or Air Force officers-are considered to have the most competitive pay of any salaried position in the military. Although largely dependent on rank and time in service, navy officers enjoy both an excellent benefits package in addition to compensation. Military pay grade is a broad enough topic, and well deserving of its own discussion, but here we'll illustrate the navy pay structure with very brief emphasis on navy rank and what it indicates. 

Navy Officer Pay (Summarized 2012 military pay chart)

O-1 , Ensign: $2828.40-$3558.60

O-2, Lieutenant Junior Grade: $3258.60-$4509.60

O-3, Lieutenant: $3771.30-$6135.60

O-4, Lieutenant Commander: $4289.40-$7161.90

O-5, Commander: $4971.30-$8446.20

O-6, Captain: $5963.40-$10557.30

O-7, Rear Admiral (Lower Half): $8045.70-$12021.00

O-8, Rear Admiral (Upper Half): $9683.10-$13959.30

O-9, Vice Admiral: $13685.10-$16975.80

O-10, Admiral: $15647.10-$19239.90


Navy Officer Rank Chart


Clearly, there are is some overlap from rank to rank. This is attributable to the fact that officer pay, similar to enlisted, increases as an officer's time in rank increases. Put another way, the longer you spend say, as an Ensign, the more you will be paid. While this seems like a good enough to deal, eventually, the military will cap the navy officer's pay. For example, as soon as that same Ensign reaches his third year in service, hopefully he will have performed well enough to make Lieutenant Junior Grade, as his salary is now capped at 3,558.60 per month. The only way to exceed that number is by being promoted to the next rank, Lieutenant Junior Grade. Assuming he is successful in landing that promotion, he will then be an O-2, with three years time in service, and now making $4274.40.

Other Navy Officer Pay Incentives

Navy Officer BAH Pay

In addition to the navy officer's salary, a perk that comes in no small measure is the tax-free monthly living allowance allotted to its officers known as BAH, or, basic allowance for housing. Not unlike military pay, BAH demands its own structure due to all the variables considered. Monthly payout depends on rank, zip code or city due to cost of living variation, and whether an officer has dependents.

In the city of Norfolk, VA for example, an O-3 with dependents would be allotted $1,758 per month in BAH in addition to his salary, while an O-3 without dependents would only be given $1563.00 for housing expenses. BAH is available to navy enlisted personnel as well, but first must achieve the rank of E-5 (Petty Officer 2nd Class), unless he or she has dependents. Enlisted personnel with dependents qualify immediately for BAH, but at a reduced rate compared to that of navy officers.


Other Navy Officer Bonuses and Incentives

  • Aviation Career Incentive Pay: $125-$840/mo, depending on time in service. 
  • Career Sea Pay: $100-$395/mo, depending on time in service
  • Combat Zone Tax Exclusion
  • Diving Duty Pay: $110-$240/mo
  • Foreign Language Proficiency Pay: $100-$500/mo, depending on language proficiency
  • Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay: $150-250/mo, depending on rank and duties performed
  • Hostile Fire and Imminent Danger Pay: $225/mo, regardless of rank or time in service
  • Judge Advocate Continuation Pay: $10,000-$25,000, depending on duration of contract selected and duties performed.
  • Navy Officer Nuclear Career Bonus: <$20,000
  • Special Warfare Officer Continuation Bonus: Up to $15,000, depending time in service, and other criteria
  • Submarine Duty Incentive Pay: $230-$83854.70-35, depending on rank

Navy Enlisted Pay (Summarized 2012 Military Pay Chart)

E-1, Seaman Recruit: $1,491 
E-2, Seaman Apprentice: $1671.30
E-3, Seaman: $1757.40-$1981.20
E-4, Petty Officer Third Class: $1946.70-$2363.10
E-5, Petty Officer Second Class: $2123.40-$3012.90
E-6, Petty Officer First Class: $2123.40-$3436.80
E-7, Chief Petty Officer: $2679.60-$4815.90
E-8, Senior Chief Petty Officer: $3854.70-$5497.80
E-9, Master Chief Petty Officer: $4708.80-$7311.00
Navy Enlisted Rank Chart
Other Navy Enlisted Pay Incentives
Navy Enlisted BAH (basic allowance for housing)
As mentioned, navy enlisted personnel do qualify for BAH allotments at a slightly lower rate than that of the navy officer. In order for to qualify for BAH however, someone enlisted in the navy must first claim a dependent, or achieve the rank of E-5. As mentioned, basic allowance for housing rates vary from area to area, but in most cities the monthly allotment is sufficient to maintain a good quality of living. 
 USS Carr FFG 52
Navy Enlistment Bonuses and Incentives
  • Career Enlisted Flyer Pay: $150-$200/mo, depending on rank
  • Career Sea Pay: $50-$620/mo, depending on rank and time in service
  • Combat Zone Tax Exclusion
  • Diving Duty Pay: $110-$340/mo, depending on level of qualification
  • Foreign Language Proficiency Pay: $100-$500/mo, depending on language proficiency
  • Hardship Duty Pay: $50-$150/mo, depending on determined degree of hardship
  • Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay: $150-$240/mo, depending on rank and duties assigned
  • Hostile Fire and Imminent Danger Pay: $225/mo
  • Special Duty Assignment Pay: $75-450/mo, depending on duties assigned
  • Submarine Duty Pay: $75-$425/mo, depending on rank

The earning potential through the military is substantial regardless of whether you choose to join the military to become a navy officer or go the enlisted route. Joining the navy as an enlistee will allow you to assume a more hands-on role, whereas joining as a navy officer will often land you in a supervisory role, overseeing the function of a division or department. Dollar for dollar, however, navy officers are awarded the most desirable pay, as the qualifications and training are usually more demanding than the enlisted side. Although most people can look at the pay chart and determine which they'd rather be, there's an enormous difference between officer and enlisted when it comes to job responsibilities and preliminary qualifications. It's advisable to do some research on both options before making a decision to join the military.

2012 Military Pay Chart