What do you earn in the Army?

In comparison to many jobs, basic Army pay can look quite low, that is until you factor in the lower cost of living and the potential for promotion and higher pay. Then there are the free qualifications, the skills and experience and the employability to think about. A soldier pays roughly 1/3 that of a civilian’s earnings towards his or her upkeep, the rest is theirs.

Everybody in the Army gets a pay rise every year, depending on their level of promotion and time served. This can add up to a very nice salary in a relatively short amount of time.

Other Ranks (OR)


Start at £14,931 a year. Considering that food and accommodation are subsidised, gym and sports facilities are free, medical care is free, you get a tax-free pension and qualifications that can get you a job anywhere, that is a reasonable rate for an 18 year old. There are 38 days paid leave a year on top, just to sweeten the deal.

Private and Lance Corporal (Range 1 OR-2 to OR-3)

A private starts at £18,488 and can go up to £27,949; lance corporals start at £25,524 and can go up to £29,899, depending on how long you stay as a private or lance corporal. The pay increases can be in excess of £1000 a year, and when factored in to the cost of living, give privates a decent amount of spare cash to put into savings or start a family with.

Corporal (Range 2 OR-4)

The next step up, it can take a few years to get here but a corporal’s lowest starting salary is £29,769, heading up to £35,378, not an insubstantial sum. The responsibilities are greater but the remuneration, lower living costs, free medical care, and tax-free pension all make for a lot to put away into savings.

Sergeant (Range 3 OR-6)

A sergeant starts at (at the lowest) £33,490, and can earn up to £41,441 a year.

Staff Sergeant (Range 4 OR-7 to OR-8)

Starting at £37,698 and moving all the way up to £47,895, a staff sergeant is earning some serious money, with paid leave, low living costs and a large number of educational opportunities.

Warrant Officers and Master Aircrew (Range 5 OR-9)

The lowest paid warrant officer or aircrew master starts at £47,488 and continues up to £50,685. These are highly skilled jobs with a great deal of responsibility but offer excellent remuneration and further employment benefits.

A 10 year career in the Army starting as a private can see promotion to corporal, sergeant or beyond, so with accumulated savings can amount to tens of thousands of pounds in the bank, a tax-free pension, support in gaining employment, any number of free and internationally recognised educational qualifications and a CV that will impress any employer.


Training OF-0

Officer Cadets start at Sandhurst earning £25,984. Life at Sandhurst is cheap and training in the Army is subsidised at nearly every corner, including free healthcare, 30 days paid leave, free qualifications, subsidised food, drink and lodgings, free gym and the opportunity to train abroad. Training can take a couple of years

2nd Lieutenant and Lieutenant OF-1

From the cadet pay of £25,984, a 2nd lieutenant starts at £31,232 and is automatically promoted to lieutenant at £32,329, providing the correct standard is maintained, moving up to £34,522 per annum.

Captain OF-2

A captain starts at £40,025 and can increase his or her pay upwards to £47,598 per annum. It can take 5 years for an NCO to reach the rank of captain, which is can around the age of 25. Not many 25 year olds can earn £40,000 a year and get to keep most of it.

Major OF-3

After at least 3 as a captain, the rank of major is attainable, earning from £50,417 to £60,381. A major could be in his or her late twenties or early thirties, earning over £50,000 and commanding battalions.

Lt Colonel OF-4

The starting wage for a Lt. Colonel is £70,760 and the highest wage attainable at this rank is £81,934. A high level of seniority and pay, these officers run large parts of the Army and take on huge responsibility. It is quite possible to be a Lt. Colonel by the age of 35 or 40, making a 20 year career in the Army a satisfying, well paid and rewarding opportunity.

Colonel OF-5

A colonel picks up £85,726 in his or her first year and can earn up to £94,237 by the time he or she is promoted to brigadier.


There aren’t many of these in the Army but they earn from £102,159 to £106,293 per annum. The very top job, they take home pay that is nearly 4 times the national average, as well as commanding armies and advising government policy.