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Do U.S. Navy SEALs Make a Lot of Money?

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Navy Sea, Air and Land Forces, or SEALs, are highly trained men who work within the Navy's special operations and warfare military force. Navy SEALs perform covert missions, typically behind enemy lines. Although "good salary" is a relative term, when you include all of the special pays, bonuses and allowance, SEALs are among the most highly paid combat personnel in the U.S. Armed Forces. Military pay includes basic pay, which is based on rank and time in the military, allowances, bonuses and special pays.

Basic Pay for Officers in the SEALs

Officer pay in the Navy begins with the rank of ensign and a pay grade of O-1. The yearly salary for an ensign O-1 was between $34,516.80 and $43,430.40 in 2013. For a lieutenant junior grade O-2, it ranged from $39,769.20 to $55,036.80. A lieutenant O-3 earned between $46,026 and $74,880, a lieutenant commander O-4 received between $52,347.60 and $87,404.40.

Basic Pay for Enlisted SEALs

Enlisted pay in the Navy begins with the rank of seaman recruit. The yearly salary for a seaman recruit E-1 in 2013 was $18,194.40. An E-2, or seaman apprentice, earned $20,397.60. For a seaman E-3, salaries ranged between $21,448.80 and $24,177.60. A petty officer third class earned from $23,756.40 to $28,839.60.

Bonuses and Special Pays

Newly recruited SEALs could receive a one-time bonus of $12,000, as of 2013. SEALs were eligible for parachute jump pay of up to $1,800 annually, and those qualified to perform high-altitude, low-opening jumps could receive as much as $2,700. Dive pay could add as much as $2,880 to an officer's pay or $4,080 to an enlisted SEAL's pay. The hazardous duty incentive was $1,880 per year. Sea duty pay could further increase earnings and ranged from $600 a year to $8,400. Other special pays included demolition pay, imminent danger pay, submarine pay and flight deck pay.

Typical Allowances

Active-duty SEALs qualify for housing and food allowances that are tax-free. In 2013, the food allowance, which is based on the number of the SEAL's dependents, was as much as $13,200 annually. Housing allowances started at $5,846.40 annually and increased by rank to a maximum of $21,870. A uniform allowance is offered for enlisted SEALs. In 2013, the initial uniform allowance was $1,811.61, and the annual replacement allowance ranged between $327.60 and $469.35. The family separation allowance was $3,000 per year.


Jeffrey Joyner has had numerous articles published on the Internet covering a wide range of topics. He studied electrical engineering after a tour of duty in the military, then became a freelance computer programmer for several years before settling on a career as a writer.

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