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How Much Does a Naval Officer Make a Year?

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Officers in the U.S. Navy can specialize in anything from combat aviation to the law and medicine. These sailors have received an officer's commission and are paid accordingly. As with other officers in the U.S. military, they receive a base salary determined annually by the government. But they are also eligible for allowances and special pay depending on their individual circumstances and chosen military profession.

Joining the Navy

To become an officer in the Navy, a recruit must meet a strict series of qualifications. He must be a United States citizen between the ages of 19 and 35 at the time of being commissioned and have earned at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. He must also be able to pass a drug screening and criminal background check, as well as meet the Navy's physical fitness standards. Joining the Navy as an officer requires a commitment of three to five years of service or more, depending on the officer's chosen military occupational specialty.

Basic Salary

Navy officers are paid a basic rate dependent upon two factors: their rank and their time in the Navy. Officers earn a raise with every promotion, and approximately every two years of service. For example, a new ensign -- the lowest level of officer -- will earn $2,876.40 a month, or $34,516.80 a year. On the other hand, a captain -- the sixth step up the ranks -- with 13 years in the Navy earns $7,473 a month, or $89,676 a year.

Allowances and Special Pay

Navy officers may be able to receive supplementary pay, particularly if they serve in hazardous situations or in highly specialized fields. All sailors are eligible for basic allowances for housing and subsistence if they live off base, and may be eligible for a cost-of-living allowance if they are stationed in a high-cost area. In addition, officers who serve in special roles may be entitled to extra pay. Those in shipboard roles, for instance, are eligible for "sea pay," while those who fly or serve on aircraft are eligible for "flight pay." These special pays can add up to hundreds of dollars a month, usually dependent upon rank, time in the Navy or both.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an "excellent" outlook for military careers through 2020. While the number of overall service members may remain the same, there are opportunities for new officers -- and enlisted personnel -- as more experienced members of the military retire or finish serving their commitments.


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.

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