How Much Money will I Make if I Join the Military?

Military PayThe majority of a military member’s paycheck comes from their Basic Pay, Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), and Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS).  By breaking these down we’ll see how an E-4 with 4 years in service earns about $46,000 per year.

Basic Pay

Basic pay is determined by rank and years in service.  For example, an E-4 with four years in service will earn $2,199.90 per month in basic pay, which is split into two payments paid on the 1st and 15th of the month.

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)

Basic Allowance for Housing is only paid if you live off-base.  If you live in the dorms or on-base housing you will not receive BAH.  However, you will not pay rent for your home if you live on-base.  BAH is calculated based on the zip code of your assigned installation, and whether you are married or single.  Married personnel earn a bit more than single.  Keeping with our example above, a married E-4 assigned to Travis AFB (zip code 94535) would receive $1,599.00 per month.  As single E-4 at the same base would earn $1,332.00.

So far our married E-4 with four years in service earns $2,199.90 + $1,332.00 = $3,531.90 per month.

Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS)

Military personnel also receive Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) if they live off base.  This money is meant to purchase food.  If you live on base you will not receive BAS, but you will be allowed to eat at the dining facility for free.

Current BAS rates:

  • Enlisted – $323.87
  • Officer – $223.04

Adding to our previous example, our married E-4 earns $3,855.70 per month total, or $46,268.40 per year.

Additional Allowances

[shamwow] Wait there’s more! [/shamwow] Military personnel have the opportunity to earn special pays based on their job or special skills.  For instance, if our E-4 is an aviator he’ll receive $225 per month.  If he’s a linguist he could receive from $300-1,000 extra for knowing a critical language.   Click here to view various special pays.

Deployment Pay

Finally, military members may earn several extra payments while deployed, to include hostile fire pay ($225), hazardous duty pay ($150), and family separation allowance ($250). Certain deployed locations are also tax-free.

* Photo by Thomas Hawk

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