How Much Money Does a Military Officer Make? Real World Example

14,542 grads of the Ultimate Military Credit Cards Course already know why
The Platinum Card® from American Express is my #1 recommended card

Military Money Manual has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the cards that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. This site does not include all card companies or all available card offers. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

How much do military officers get paid? What is a military officer's net worth?

In 2018 I earned $94,185.28 as a captain (pay grade O-3) with 8 years of active duty service.

I paid $4,445.63 in Social Security taxes and $1,039.70 in Medicare tax. I paid no federal income tax due to being in a combat zone. $0.

I am a tax resident of Texas and have been since I entered active duty there in 2010. No state income tax for me.

In 2018 I was a captain (O-3) in the US Air Force. I entered active duty in June 2010, so I got a pay rise in June 2018 from a 6 year time in service captain to an 8 year captain.

I contributed $18,500 to my Roth TSP and received $3,295.54 in matching contributions from the government into my TSP under the Blended Retirement System (BRS).

Other questions might include:

How Much Money Do Military Servicemembers Make?

Here is a few month by month breakdowns of how much I made in 2018 as a captain in the US military. I won't go through all 12 months because it doesn't vary that much.

Pay can vary wildly even within the same branch of the military due to duty location.

BAH, or Basic Allowance for Housing, is an untaxed entitlement paid based on your duty location. It can range from $4000 per month in Hawaii to $900 per month in Oklahoma for the same pay grade.

I also was in a Combat Zone Tax Exclusion (CZTE) area for the entire year of 2018. That meant I paid no federal income taxes on my military income for all of 2018.

January Military Pay

Total Income7716.46Deductions-2164.81

A couple of notes on January's pay. It was a pretty standard month. The base pay was for a 6 year time in service O-3. The BAS, or Basic Allowance for Subsistence, was a standard officer rate.

HDP, or Hardship Duty Pay, was based on my “deployed” location in the United Arab Emirates.

The refund debt line at $29 was due to my CZTE location. SGLI, or Servicemembers Group Life Insurance, offers $400,000 for $28 per month plus a $1 per month Traumatic Injury Protection coverage, for

I also have my wife's Tricare Dental insurance deducted automatically from the paycheck. Saves me having to pay one more bill. It's $11.10 per month until April 2018 it went up to $11.38 per month. That's $135.45 for all of 2018.

COLA, or Cost of Living Allowance, is paid daily and recalculated monthly. This rate was based on an O-3 not living in the dorms with 1 dependent in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

February Military Pay


COLA was down this month because it's paid daily. February is the shortest month of the year so you should expect a lower COLA.

I guess the DFAC forgot to collect meals? No deduction for that this month.

March Military Pay

Total Income7716.46Total Deductions2099.21

Meal collection back on. In the notes it has two meal collection lines so I think they found the missing February data and deducted it.

COLA back up to January levels.

Time-in-Service Increase LES

My time in service or longevity updated in May 2018. My years of service ticked over from 7 to 8.

My base pay for May was slightly higher than April thanks to the longevity update. The full base pay of an 8 year O-3 didn't kick in until June 2018.

Here is was my June 2018 paycheck looked like:

BASE PAY6083.40SOC SEC377.17

Total Compensation for a Military Officer

So on Dec 31, 2018, here was my total compensation as an 8 year captain the US Air Force:

  • Total Entitlement: $94,185.28
  • Total Tax (FICA Social Security + Medicare) Paid: $5,485.33
  • Total BRS Matching (5% per month): $3295.54
  • Entitlement + BRS Matching = $97,480.82
  • Entitlement + BRS matching – Total Tax = $5,485.33

So actual take home pay was $91,995.49 as an 8 year captain in the US military.

How Much Does a Military Officer Make an Hour?

Because we are salaried employees, calculating an hourly wage can be depressing. Also, work hours in a week can vary wildly, depending on whether you are deployed, in garrison, or TDY.

If you are working 12 hour shifts 7 days a week, that's 84 hours per week of work. If you are in garrison and working 0730-1630 Monday-Friday, you're only working 45 hours per week (40 hours if you take an hour for lunch every day).

But assuming an average of 2000 hours worked in a year, as an 8 year military officer in 2018 I made $45.50 per hour.

Save PDF Copies of Your LES

One tip I recommend for all military servicemembers, enlisted or officer, is to download a PDF copy of your Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) every month from MyPay and save it in Google Drive, Dropbox, or some other cloud storage solution.

By doing this, I can check for errors and keep records of all my military pay checks.

The military is notorious for withholding pay or deducting pay due to clerical/administrative errors. I keep a copy of all my LESs in PDF form so I have a record of what they have and have not paid me.

It has saved me a few times when I have been accused of being overpaid or underpaid.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a military officer make?

In 2018 I earned $94,185.28 as a captain (pay grade O-3) with 8 years of active duty service in the US Air Force. An Army, Navy, Marine, or Coast Guard O-3 would make a similar amount of money.

Do military officer's get paid well?

I think military officer's are well compensated when we reach O-3, but sometimes comparable civilian jobs pay much better. The tax benefits, health care, and other benefits of military service do make service worth more than the dollar amount officers are paid.

How much money do military officers make?

In 2018 I earned $94,185.28 as a captain (pay grade O-3) with 8 years of active duty service in the US Air Force. An Army, Navy, Marine, or Coast Guard O-3 would make a similar amount of money.

How much do soldiers get paid when deployed?

Usually pay increases on deployment thanks to Hostile Fire Pay (HFP), Imminent Danger Pay (IDP), Family Separation Pay (FSP), and Combat Zone Tax Exclusion (CZTE). The deployed Savings Deposit Program (SDP) pays a guaranteed 10% annually. Also available to deployed soldiers, sailors, airman, and Marines are tax free contributions to a Roth TSP and Roth IRA account.

Do soldiers have access to their money while on deployment?

Yes, typically there are ATMs, financial service centers, and online banking available to military servicemembers while they are deployed. The level of access to finances depends on the isolation of the deployed environment, from FOB Shank, Afghanistan to the CENTCOM Command Center at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

How much do military officers make an hour?

Let's assume I worked a normal 40 hours per week, took 2 weeks of leave per year, and therefore worked 2000 hours in 2018. As an O-3 captain military officer I made about $47 per hour in 2018.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.