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Officers in the U.S. Coast Guard patrol aquatic borders, come to the rescue of stranded sailors and serve their country at the same time. As a result, these members of the U.S. military often receive special financial incentives that boost their paychecks above and beyond the normal salaries for commissioned officers. As a result, how much a Coast Guard officer makes in a month varies according to his responsibilities.
Basic Monthly Salary
Coast Guardsmen are paid according to the annual National Defense Authorization Act. Their salary chart is based on two factors: rank and time in the Coast Guard. A Coast Guard officer starts off using the pay rate for an ensign with less than two years of service. She then receives a raise with every promotion and approximately every two years of service until she reaches the maximum pay for her rank. For instance, while a new ensign is paid $2,877 a month, a commander – who has received four promotions with 11 years in the Coast Guard is paid $6,881 a month.
Career Sea Pay
Among the many special pays for which a Coast Guard officer may be eligible, the most common may be career sea pay. This is a special incentive paid to those officers who actively serve on sea duty, such as on the crew of a vessel. A Coast Guardsman's monthly career sea pay depends upon three factors: rank, years of sea duty and the type of vessel he serves on. This pay can range from $50 to $750 extra each month. In addition, those who have served more than 36 consecutive months of sea duty receive a career sea pay premium of an additional $100 a month.
Other Allowances and Pays
In addition to career sea pay, a Coast Guard officer may be eligible to receive other allowances and pays. Some of these are set rates, and others are based on rank and other factors. For instance, any officer who opts to live off base may get a basic allowance for housing and a basic allowance for subsistence, as well as a cost of living allowance. In addition, officers may receive additional pay for various military specialties. Those on diving duty, for example, can receive $150 to $240 extra a month, while those who serve as pilots can earn an additional $125 to $840 a month.
Coast Guard officers also receive benefits that supplement their monthly incomes. These include free health care and dental care, 2.5 days of paid vacation each month – equal to 30 days a year – and low-cost life insurance. They also have the ability to take advantage of the Montgomery GI Bill, which helps the guardsman pay for college or vocational education.
Eric Strauss spent 12 years as a newspaper copy editor, eventually serving as a deputy business editor at "The Star-Ledger" in New Jersey before transitioning into academic communications. His byline has appeared in several newspapers and websites. Strauss holds a B.A. in creative writing/professional writing and recently earned an M.A. in English literature.