It Pays Well to Join the Military

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Serving in the U.S. armed forces really isn’t so bad from a financial standpoint, according to Carlton Meyer, a former officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. Contrary to popular myth about low wages in the military, soldiers today can easily out-earn their civilian counterparts, thanks to salary boosts that began in the 1980s.

Meyer says Americans 16-24 years old earn an average of $22,308 a year, compared to the $37,637 that a 20-year-old sailor can enjoy. If that same sailor has a wife and two kids, he can make $41,021, which does not include special pay and bonuses.
College graduates don’t fare better than military personnel who have put in four years of service. A soldier with an E-4 classification plus spouse and two kids can get paid $48,180 annually, which is more than the average civilian with a college degree. In addition, soldiers can take advantage of subsidized child care, free gyms and tax-free shopping on military bases.
Meyer also notes that Social Security recipients in 2009 received no increase in their benefits, while military personnel were given a 3.2% cost-of-living adjustment.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
High Military Pay (
Basic Military Pay—Effective January 1, 2010 (Defense Financing and Accounting Service) (pdf)


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