Military.com | By Tiffini Theisen
The Military Pay Calculator is the perfect tool to help you figure out how much you make as a U.S. military service member. While knowing your basic military pay rate may be simple enough, it can be more challenging to understand how certain allowances, including Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), affect what you take home each month.
About the Military Pay Calculator
With a few taps or clicks, the Military.com Military Pay Calculator can help you easily determine how much you will earn before taxes, now and in the future. Getting ready to move? Factor in the BAH for your new ZIP code. Getting promoted or deployed? Adjust your information, and learn what you'll take home.
To begin using the Military Pay Calculator, first choose your status: whether Active Duty, National Guard or Reserve. Then scroll down to find your current pay grade: E1-9, W1-5, or O1-10. "E" stands for enlisted, "W" for warrant officer and "O" for commissioned officer. Finally, indicate your number of years of service in the dropdown menu.
Tap "Next: Allowances" and enter your ZIP code at the top. Then, check the boxes to choose Housing Allowance (BAH), short for Basic Allowance for Housing. This monthly allowance may be in place when military housing is not provided, depending on geographic duty location and other factors.
The next box, COLA (CONUS), stands for Continental United States Cost-of-Living Allowance and applies to locations where the cost of living is 8% or more higher than average. If your location isn't one of these areas, you may check the box, but the amount will remain at 0.
Check the Dependents box if you have any, and the calculator will adjust your pay to reflect this.
Next, if you receive any of the following, check the boxes for: Clothing Allowance, Family Separation Pay and Subsistence Allowance (BAS) which is short for Basic Allowance for Subsistence. BAS offsets the cost of food and is paid to service members who aren't provided regular meals or whose housing lacks access to adequate kitchen facilities. Remember: even if you regularly receive BAS under normal circumstances, it may not be a part of your final paycheck if you are deployed or on a training rotation away from home.
The final box in this section allows you to manually input any other allowance you receive.
Some military members who face unusual duty conditions, including service that may be particularly difficult or dangerous, may qualify for special pays on top of their basic pay. This is an additional monthly or annual sum added to your compensation.
For example, extra money is added to the paychecks of military members who are on diving or parachute duty; assigned to a flight deck; or on assignments designated as hazardous or a hardship, or simply outside the scope of normal duty.
You can also earn extra money for serving in a medical capacity or brushing up on a foreign language, among other incentive categories.
In this section of the calculator, first select your service from the dropdown menu, and then check any of the boxes that apply to you.
Finally, tap View Summary to get an overview of all your calculator selections. You will also see all your totals in the light blue box.
How Much Does the Military Pay?
The best way to figure out how much the military pays is to use the military pay calculator or check military pay charts. If you're not yet in the service, start by looking at E-1, which will show the amount you might be paid during Basic Training, depending on your circumstances.
How much you get paid over time will change based on your rank, location, job and other factors.
About Military Pay
Service members receive a base salary set by law. Each year, Congress approves a military pay raise to account for inflation -- typically between 1% and 3%. The amount is tied to each person's rank, or "pay grade," and is the minimum amount a service member can expect to receive before taxes and any other deductions.
Troops also typically receive a variety of allowances on top of their military pay. Those can include Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) based on location, a clothing allowance and more.
Military members may also receive other special pay amounts tied to their specific military jobs or deployment. For example, troops might receive Hazardous Duty Pay, Imminent Danger Pay and Jump Pay.
The military pay calculator factors in all of those pays in one easy-to-use place.
Which Military Branch Pays the Most?
Basic military pay amounts are set by law and are the same for each branch of the military. Pay amounts are tied to pay grade. While the different services often customize the names of their ranks, all of those ranks are tied to that same pay grade chart.
Service members do, however, receive fluctuating pay based on their location, special skills, family size or risk associated with their job. For example, a deployed Special Forces soldier with a family stationed in a high cost-of-living area will bring home a lot more pay in the form of allowances and special pays than an unmarried soldier of the same rank with a desk job in Oklahoma. Both, however, will have the same base pay.