military pay?

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by infantry17, Aug 14, 2013.

  1. infantry17

    infantry17 New Member

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    I googled military pay and just read a bunch of stuff from presumably enlisted people complaining about their pay. The weird thing was I grew up in a military family and money was never an issue. We took vacations, ate out, I went to private school. Granted my dad did retire as an O6, Navy captain. Was what I was reading just from some trolls or is military pay that bad? Obviously I know you don't join the military (O or E) for the money but I do want to be comfotable.
     
  2. USMAROTCFamily

    USMAROTCFamily Member

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    There is a huge difference between what an 0-6 and a lower enlisted person makes. It can be very difficult for lower enlisted to support a family on their pay and they may even qualify for food stamps and other Governmental assistance if they have several kids. I never had a problem a comfortable lifestyle as an officer or officer's wife.
     
  3. nick4060

    nick4060 Member

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    The difference in pay between an E-2 and an O-1 is significant. Not enough junior officers realize how little their junior enlisted are paid.
     
  4. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Compared to what? A #1 draft choice ? Then your pay is lousy. Compared to most normal jobs?- then Military pay is ok IMHO. Keep in mind that military pay is actually composed of a number of different components including base pay, BAS (subsistence), BAQ (quarters), VHA (variable housing allowance), various incentive pays (Flight, jump, hazardous duty etc...) and of course a very big tax benefit in that only your basic pay is taxed while all of the others are untaxed.

    Take a look at the link that is attached- I plugged in an O1 (brand new ensign straight out of college) with 1 year of service in Newport RI- you can play with it for any location, pay grade and time in service http://militarypay.defense.gov/mpcalcs/Calculators/RMC.aspx
    The "Regular Military Compensation" calculator says that your compensation (which includes your tax benefits and the value of housing if provided without special pays)will total approximately $56k. That is a few thousand dollars less than we would pay for a new starting Engineer in our company (located about 40 miles from Newport), but that starting pay is significantly more than the average pay of a newly graduated liberal arts major in a civilian job. An E3 with no family at Ft Bragg just out of AIT would make the equivalent of $37k- that's definitely better than his peers without a degree and starting off in an hourly civilian job. So is the pay bad? Personally- I don't think so. You won't get rich, but most people don't in any other job either. BTW- I have moved this (as you can see) from the ROTC forum to this forum where it fits better and won't distract from the primary mission of the forum.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2013
  5. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    As an O-1, I have never had to worry about money. I'm not "rich," but I do very well for myself and I'm pretty thankful for that.

    Granted, I'm not married and don't really have too many expenses (in order of expense: rent, 2/C loan payments, food, gas, entertaining the Boyfriend, utilities, internet), but I'm able to live in a nice apartment and literally not even think about whether about I'll have enough money for stuff.

    As nick4060 says, though, this is NOT true for your junior enlisted, especially those with multiple dependents.
     
  6. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Officer pay isn't bad at all, at any level. BAH and the fact that they aren't paying for healthcare are huge huge pluses.

    Enlisted pay is a different story. Certainly senior enlisted pay isn't bad. Junior enlisted pay on the other hand, isn't great.
     
  7. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    When I enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1975 my monthly pay was $383.00 per month before taxes.

    Even with inflation that was a lot less then today.
     
  8. aseanag

    aseanag Eagle2013

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    The military pay calculator you listed has 2012 pay rates. You also need to include zero health insurance cost for military personnel and the state tax break for bah and bas. This military pay calculator has 2013 pay rate: http://calculator.gijobs.com/
     
  9. MabryPsyD

    MabryPsyD Dr. G.

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    Many of my colleagues do actually complain about the pay. However, when you consider:

    Free education
    Free healthcare
    Free education for your spouse (rank dependent)
    Job security
    No malpractice insurance
    Can't be sued
    Guaranteed retirement (if you put in your time)
    Guaranteed yearly pay raises
    Free education for your kids (purple heart or GI Bill Transfer)

    I can go on and on...
     
  10. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    It's not only zero state taxes out of BAH, but also zero federal taxes out of that BAH today. When you get out, the real impact of taxes just makes you sick.
     
  11. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt Member

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    Let's face it: the only happy serviceman is a complaining serviceman!

    Total compensation has substantially improved over the years. Not trying to equate military vs civilian jobs but average pay rates are much closer today.

    Since pay scales are public I think there is a very keen awareness in the active duty ranks. Yes, there are large gaps between junior officers and junior enlisted personnel. There are great differences in responsibility as well.
     
  12. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    I don't think you are suggesting that military pay scale should be adjusted based on # of dependents you have. I am sure you might face some financial challenges it you have two children without a working spouse.

    Military members with dependents do get paid little more -BAH with dependent rate.

    I have a little sympathy for junior enlisted military members that have hard time making ends meet because they decide to have many children. Having children is a choice.
     
  13. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Really- Pay is all relative to what you could get in other jobs with your level of experience, education and performance. Over the years I've discovered that most AD people really have an inflated/ distorted sense of what pay is on the outside and where they stand relative to what they would likely make on the outside, and they also seriously undervalue the tax advantages that they get in some of their pays. The number of Junior officers who I have talked with who expect to walk into mid 6 figures if they leave to try their hand at the outside economy is pretty high, mostly because they read a cover story in Fortune magazine about a handful of superstars who walk into the right situation at the right time with the right creds. But the reality is for most officers- you are making comparable salary to your peers IMHO . For Junior enlisted- personally I think you are doing better than your peers- becasue for the most part your peers are hourly employees in non skilled trade jobs that don't require licensing. The disconnect IMHO is in mid level skilled NCO's who on the outside would actually have a pretty good shot at climbing into supervisory, technical or management jobs - higher paying jobs in the Civilian work force. That option isn't really open to most of the military other than the select few who make it to OCS or as Warrant Officers- I believe those are the positions that are underpaid relative to the outside economy.
    As previous poster pointed out- the "horror stories" that you read are usually junior enlisted guys who enlist with, or gain more dependents than they can afford at their current pay rate. But that's kind of a personal choice- and just like in the rest of the economy- sometimes a single income just doesn't make it if you make the choice to have a family on your current salary.

    Bottom line- IMHO military pay is fairly comparable to the outside for most sectors. You don't get rich- regardless of the paygrade you are in- from O10 down to E1 but I don't think it's so bad. Of course there are exceptions- but in the aggregate- I think the military pay is reasonable. If it wasn't - re-enlistment and retention numbers would be in the dumpster. They're not.
     
  14. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    True, so so true. Having 100% of your paycheck taxed is like jumping into freezing water.

    What JOs are you talking to Bruno? They're expecting $500K?

    Honestly, the starting salary of a GS-14 in DC (where there is pretty good locale pay) is $105,000. A GS-14 is roughly equivalent to an O-5. O-5 roughly have 20+ years experience. Yes, there is a nice chunk of that O-5 pay that isn't taxed (and yes, that makes a difference). I wouldn't expect a 6 figure salary immediately after jumping ship, especially comparing your O-3 or O-4 pay to the private sector. There are exceptions, of course. Security clearances are good, but they aren't the golden ticket they're made out to be (blame that on the liberal allocation of clearances).

    That said, things happen. When I left the Coast Guard I was sure I had a job lined up, but it didn't happen. Then we had a federal hiring freeze, so I shifted entirely to the private sector. I even walked dogs (with a dog walking company) part time to make some money and get out of the house. Nothing was happening for me... and then finally I got an offer, and a second better offer, which I took. That second offer was slightly less than the "equivalent" salary I would have been making, according to some websites, based on my base pay, BAH etc. A month later I had an even bigger salary.

    And then 5 months later I was recruited by a grad school professor for an even better salary that I'm very happy with.

    But it was never a "people will love you TS clearance and will bust down doors to get to you." There was interest, some worked out, most didn't and when i felt my worst, everything came together and half a year later got much better.

    Certainly my idea of the private sector being an endless money pit was quickly corrected, and the idea that my officer pay "undervalued" my skills wasn't accurate either.

    The officer corps may not make you rich, but a two officer household will get you very close to that "well off.... we want to tax you more" threshhold the President and Vice President would have you believe only applies to jet setting malpractice lawyers and CEOs. You realize quickly combined households of $200K or $250K are attainable by two O-5 or O-6 households.
     
  15. MedB

    MedB Parent

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    Lits,

    For what it's worth, thinking that Bruno may have meant the $120k-170k range when he said "mid six figures". We use that same term around her to mean that range.
     
  16. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    MemberLG and Bruno; excellent points on both posts.

    As an enlisted person, while I admit that junior enlisted pay isn't anywhere near that of officers or senior enlisted, I can't say I have too much sympathy. As MemberLG said, having kids and even getting married "Is a Choice". Whether it's the 18 year old who graduates high school and gets their first job at Walmart or the 18 year old who enlists in the military. You aren't forced to get married. You're definitely not forced to have kids. When I enlisted, I didn't get married right away. After taxes, my pay was approximately $275 PER MONTH. But I lived in the dorm (Free rent); I got a meal card (Free Food); and I got a used car with a loan from the credit union. When I finally did get married, we still waited 5 more years before having kids. My wife and I BOTH WORKED. Our first base, after getting married, was overseas. So that created even more issues with my wife getting a job. But we did quite well. By the time we started having kids, I was an E-5. Life was better. We were never rich in the military, but we never "Wanted" for anything. By the time I retired, except for a mortgage, I was 100% debt free. 3 vehicles, house full of furniture, etc... We SAVED and paid cash for what we needed. People definitely make choices. Some come into the military already with a spouse and children. That was their choice. If they work hard and learn to budget, they'll do fine. But I have absolutely no sympathy if they are saying they are living "Paycheck to Paycheck". That is totally their choice. They don't HAVE TO live pay check to pay check.

    And for junior officers, it's no different. Except it's a lot easier. An O-1 single should not have any problems surviving on military pay. My son currently lives in one of the most expensive places in the country, and he's doing OK. He has a studio apartment (No separate bedroom), and it costs $1500 a month. but he survives. Probably because he kept the excellent shape used car we gave him as part of his high school / academy graduation present, and did blow his money on $400-$500 car payments for a new car. He also took the Cadet loan and put it into CD's and IRA's. But if he was to get married, he'd actually do better financially if his wife was working. He's smart enough to know he's not ready to start pumping out puppies yet.

    And Bruno, you are so correct about the jobs on the outside vs the military. It all depends on what your skill is. I was in electronics, computers, and telecommunications. I was a technician, designer, and engineer. I worked in those areas at every level. And when the time came to retire, it just so happens that many of us retired at the same time. Including my commanding officer (Lt. colonel). She, I, another officer we knew who was retiring, and another enlisted all got a job at the SAME Nationally recognized telecommunications company. And even though the 2 retired officers had all this managerment experience, I wound up with a job in the company making $30,000+ MORE than either of them. When I walked into the new job, I doubled my pay from the military; plus I had my retirement. My gross pay actually surpassed the retired Lt Colonel at the same company including their military retirement. The point is, when it comes to leaving the military, it doesn't matter at all if you were enlisted or an officer. What matters is what are your skills. Even in today's economy, I am confident that I could leave my job tomorrow and find another one in a very short time. As far as the civilian world goes, I have as much supervisory and management experience as any officer did. But I have technicial skills that most officers would never have. So for me, jobs are easy to find and I can make a lot of money. But for the enlisted who worked in services or administrative in nature, the pay on the outside is actually less many times than what they were making in the military. Same with officers. If you were a pilot and got a job as a pilot, you'll probably do OK. If you were an engineer in the military and got a similar job on the outside, you'll probably fo ok. If you worked in any of the sciences and find a similar job on the outside, you'll probably fo ok. But if you have a low skilled job in the military, and your degree is a basic english, history, LA type major; you'll probably have a difficult time in the civilian world vs military pay.
     
  17. MabryPsyD

    MabryPsyD Dr. G.

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    +1

    This quote is the single greatest take away from your post. PLEASE get future generations of service members to recognize this truth!
     
  18. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    That's certainly more reasonable.... if still not likely out of any JO's realistic pay after leaving the military.
     
  19. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Whoa whoa whoa.... some of us past military PAOs with government bachelor's degrees can make a pretty decent buck on the outside!
     
  20. MabryPsyD

    MabryPsyD Dr. G.

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    Yeah I'm calling out the poli sci majors! I have a good relationship with my PAO. He usually approves my conference presentations.
     

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