The Coast Guard pay scale is determined by many factors and is updated every year by the United States Congress, the Senate, the Department of the Navy, and the President of the United States.
Some of the factors that are involved in determining pay are rank, length of service, area of the country or world served in, service during war, and advancement due to training.
Pay also includes free medical, dental, and vision coverage that is similar to civilian insurance, monthly subsistence allowance, daily meal allowance, clothing allowance, uniform allowance, and civilian clothing allowance.
Other items that should be considered as income are income tax exclusions for action in a war zone, pay for being separated from your family in time of war, critical skills development and training bonus, added pay for being separated from your family for long periods of time, hazardous duty incentive pay, pay for situations involving the potential for imminent danger, and special assignment pay.
Also included in your income are housing allowances for domestic (United States) and foreign, housing, several forms of life insurance, a government issued credit card, retirement pay, pay for college, and veterans benefits.
The calculation of income can be confusing and complicated but it really boils down to two things — rank and time of service.
The higher your rank the more base pay you receive. The higher your rank the more allowances and benefits you receive. The higher your rank the higher the amount of allowances and benefits you will be paid. To improve your rank and pay you are required to take and pass courses in the area of service you have specialized in. Every course passed increases your potential to rise in rank and pay.
Time of service is the next most important part of your pay package. The longer your time of service the more base pay you will receive. The longer your time of service the more allowances and benefits you will be paid. The longer your time of service the higher the amount of your allowances and benefits will be. The more times you reenlist the more your base pay and reenlistment bonus increases.
Your rank and time of service determine how much your retirement pay and benefits will be. A person can retire with full pay and benefits after twenty years of service. If you joined the coast guard at eighteen years of age you could retire at thirty-eight years of age with a full salary. Many retirees use the education benefit to go to college and earn a specialized degree. Another career path after retirement from the service is becoming a civilian consultant to a federal government agency or to a military equipment manufacturer.
A few examples from the 20101 Coast Guard manual will help clarify this complex calculation.
An E1 (Enlistee First Class) receives $1338 base pay per month. An E9 with forty years of service receives $7098.50 per month in base pay. An O1 (Officer First Class — usually requires some college education or a degree) receives $2745.50 per month base pay. An O10 with forty years of experience receives $14975.1 per month. These figures do not include the numerous other benefits and pay explained above.
The Coast Guard pay scale is a complex calculation but is potentially very financially rewarding if a person puts in the time and does the work to advance in rank. The reward of service and the honor from your country outweighs the financial reward in most veterans’ eyes.
Additional resource links: http://www.dfas.mil/militarypay/militarypaytables.html