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Military police, also known as protective service personnel, perform a range of duties within the various branches of the armed forces. MPs may guard military installations, investigate crimes, enforce military law, provide emergency response to disaster or protect property and individuals. Officers may command police units, manage correctional facilities; supervise the arrest and investigation of subjects suspected of criminal behavior and lead investigations of military crimes.
Salaries within the military depend on rank with the amount of pay increasing with each promotion. Candidates may increase their rank through time served, performance, fitness and successfully completing any written examinations. Grades are divided into two primary categories: enlisted and commissioned officers, with warrant officers in a third category. Ranks for enlisted personnel begin with privates (Army and Marine Corps), seaman recruit (Navy) or airman basic (Air Force) at Grade E-1 or E-2, depending on the service branch, and top out at sergeant major at Grade E-9. Commissioned officers begin at the rank of 2nd lieutenant at a grade of O-1 and may rise in rank to general or admiral (Navy), the top-ranking office at Grade O-10.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported as of 2009 that the monthly pay for enlisted recruits at an E-1 pay grade, in their first two years of service, started at $1,294.50 per month, and an E-2 Grade at $1,568.70. Commissioned officers in Grade O-1 take home a monthly pay of $2,655.30 for their first two years. An enlisted soldier rising to the rank of sergeant in the Army and a pay grade of E-5 will take home $1,993.50 per month. The highest rank for a military police officer is that of captain (or lieutenant in the Navy), with a pay grade of O-3. That pay grade begins at $3,540.3 per month, rising to $5,759.70 per month after 20 years of service. Earnings may also reflect pay above the grade for hazardous duty assignments, flight duty or for personnel stationed on submarines.
Along with monthly pay, service members receive significant benefits, including free room and board, medical care, an allowance for clothing and 30 days of paid vacation per year. Amenities on military bases may include golf courses, tennis courts, fitness facilities and entertainment complexes offered free of charge for personnel. Members also receive privileges at base-operated supermarkets and department stores. Following service, the Veteran Administration continues to provide benefits in the form of medical and dental care. Eligible service members may also qualify for education stipends from the Montgomery GI Bill. Travel is also considered a benefit for service members and their families, with military bases located across the United States, parts of Europe, Japan and the Republic of Korea.
The BLS reported that in 2009 more than 1.4 million service members were on active duty in the armed forces with 85,702 serving in the protective service occupations as enlisted personnel and 4,695 as officers. According to the BLS, the job outlook is “excellent,” as the United States budget for national defense remains significant. Additionally, those who start a career in the military when still young may retire after 20 years with a pension and remain young enough to engage in a second career. Former military police may find work in the private sector in law enforcement, private investigation, corrections or in the security field.
Nikki Jardin began freelance writing in 2009 and focuses on food and travel articles. She has been a professional cook and caterer for more than 20 years. She holds a degree in environmental science from Humboldt State University.