Chief master sergeant is the highest enlisted rank in the U.S. Air Force, promoted from master sergeant in technical fields. The rank has existed only since 1959, in a service that was formed only in 1947. Only one percent of the enlisted force can hold this rank at any one time. Compensation for the position is defined by the standard military pay tables.
Chief master sergeants are classified with the E-9 pay grade, which starts with monthly basic pay of $4,634 for those with over 10 years of experience. Pay increases to $4,872 for over 14, $5,436 for over 16 and the maximum of $7,195 for over 40. The basic pay for Sergeant Major of the Air Force is $7,489 per month. It is a special position, appointed by the Air Force Chief of Staff, that represents the interests of all enlisted personnel.
All enlisted staff who live on-base receive free room and board, as well as medical care for themselves and their families. Those who live off base receive allowances. Monthly housing allotments range from $852 for those by themselves, to $1,123 for those with dependents. Subsistence allowances run $325 per month, initial clothing allowances grant $1,405 for males and $1,632 for females, and replacement allowances range from $273 to $432. Senior enlisted members also receive a personal monthly allowance of $166.
All personnel, including chief master sergeants, can receive special pay depending on their assignments. For example, flyers get from $150 to $400 extra per month, and those in hazardous duty get $240. Chief master sergeants assigned to sea duty can earn from $100 to $520 more per month, depending on their experience.
Air Force personnel can retire after 20 years of service, regardless of age. They receive a monthly pension, without having to contribute any part of their previous pay. They can also increase that amount by participating in the Thrift Savings Plan, which is similar to a 401(k) plan. This program allows contributions before taxes, thus reducing the monthly pay that is taxed. These contributions belong to the individual, no matter how long his service, and can be rolled over into an IRA or other retirement plan. The money is taxed only when withdrawn, though doing so before aged 59.5 can incur penalties.