Your military pay is based on your military rank category.
The three general military categories of rank (or 'rate,' if your military service is the Navy/Coast Guard) are Enlisted, Warrant Officer, and Commissioned Officer. Each rank comes with a distinct set of responsibilities that enable service members to fully contribute their talents to the military. Understanding these designations will help you to map out your military career.
ENLISTED SERVICE MEMBERS AND NCOs
Enlisted service members are known as the foundation of the military. Enlisted members perform the hands-on tasks of the military; often, these require specialized training. As you move up through the nine enlisted ranks, enlisted members assume higher roles for higher pay including supervision of subordinates.
Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps Noncommissioned Officer status (NCO), or Petty Officers as termed by Navy and Coast Guard, is the designation awarded to enlisted service members who have earned the highest ranks. NCOs have supervision duties along with their work as enlisted service members.
Warrant Officers are highly trained specialists. Warrant Officers can achieve higher roles within their primary specialty, providing management and leadership opportunities to enlisted members and Commissioned Officers, within their specialty.
To become a Warrant Officer, an enlisted service member must have several years of military experience, recommendations from their commander, and approval from a selection board. Warrant Officers outrank all enlisted members, but are not required to have a college degree.
Commissioned Officers outrank Warrant Officers and enlisted service members, and must have a minimum of a four-year bachelor's degree. Unlike the Warrant Officer, promotion through the ten Commissioned Officer grades is tied to the military service members' level of education. They can also change positions within their specialty or be Non-Line, which refers to an officer who is a non-combat specialist such as medical officers, lawyers, or chaplains.
Commissioned Officers are assigned through commissioning programs like a military academy, Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), or the Air Force Officer Training School (OTS).
Whether you are an E-3 enlisted service member or a seasoned Commission Officer, each military position requires 100% commitment and respect, as each plays a vital role in keeping our U.S.military functioning at its best.
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