In today’s post, I will summarize all US military branches’ enlisted ranks and titles.
Enlisted ranks are designated as E for “enlisted” and are numbered 1 through 9, with 1 being the youngest recruit and 9 being the senior enlisted advisor; this applies to enlisted Army ranks.
Army enlisted ranks refer to the hierarchy or level of authority, responsibility, and pay within the enlisted sector of the Army.
Enlisted men and women who become leaders are called noncommissioned officers,” or NCOs.
All enlisted ranks get paid the same, regardless of their branch in the military. So, for example, an Army Enlisted rank E4 gets paid the same as an E4 in the Navy.
What varies are the different specialty pay and housing allowances. So, for example, a soldier who earns jump pay, demolition pay, and language pay earns a lot more than someone who doesn’t get any specialty pay.
Someone stationed in Washington, DC, gets more money for housing allowance than somebody stationed in Texas.
This is because DC has a higher cost of living than Texas.
Let’s get started with the enlisted ranks in the US military.
E1 Enlisted rank
- E1 is the first enlisted rank.
- Army enlisted ranks E1 is called a private. In the Marine Corps, they are also called privates.
- The Air Force calls their E1s Airman Basic, and in the Navy, an E1 is called a Seaman Recruit.
- Abbreviations are in parentheses. Note that E1s cannot yet have or wear rank on their uniform.
E2 Enlisted Rank
- Army Enlisted ranks E2 is called a private or PV2.
- In the Marines, an E2 is called a private first class.
- The Air Force calls E2s airmen; in the Navy, an E2 is called a seaman apprentice.
E3 Enlisted Rank
- Army Enlisted rank E3 is called a private first class.
- An E3 in the Marines is called the Lance Corporal.
- An E3 in the Air Force is called an airman first class.
- An E3 in the Navy is called the seaman.
E4 Enlisted Rank
- Army Enlisted ranks E4 is called a specialist. But if an E4 is in a leadership position, they’re called corporals.
- An E4 in the Marine Corps is also called a corporal. In the Air Force, an E4 is called a Senior Airman.
- In the Navy, an E4 is called a Petty Officer, Third Class.
- There are dozens of complicated nuances for Navy ranks. The Navy rank you see now is the silver rank you pin to a cap.
- If you imagine it black and made of stitching with a square camouflage background, you will see the chest rank on the Navy working uniform Type 3. This is by far the most common uniform rank you will see.
E5 Enlisted Rank
- An E5 in the Army and Marines is called a sergeant.
- In the Air Force is called a staff sergeant, and in the Navy is called a petty officer second class.
E6 Enlisted Rank
- An E6 in the Army and Marines is called a Staff Sergeant
- In the Air Force, they are called a Tech Sergeant; in the Navy, they are called a Petty Officer First Class.
E7 Enlisted Rank
- An Army Enlisted rank E7 is called a Sergeant First Class.
- In the Marines is called a Gunnery Sergeant or Gunny, and in the Air Force is called a Master Sergeant.
- An Air Force E7 can also serve in a First Sergeant position.
- Like all First Sergeons, they have a diamond between their chevrons and rockers.
- In the Navy, an E7 is called a Chief Petty Officer or Chief.
E8 Enlisted Rank
- An E8 in the Army and Marine is called a Master Sergeant.
- In the Air Force is called a Senior Master Sergeant, and in the Navy is called a Senior Chief Petty Officer or Senior Chief.
- An E8 in a First Sergeant position is called First Sergeant in the Army, Marines, and Air Force.
- The Navy does not have a First Sergeant position, but since 2015, it does have a Command Senior Chief billet.
E9 Enlisted Rank
Let’s finish off with three variations of the highest enlisted rank, E9.
- An Army Enlisted rank E9 is called a Sergeant Major.
- In the Marine Corps, they are called Master Gunnery Sergeant, and in the Air Force, they are called Chief Master Sergeant.
- An Air Force E9 in a First Sergeant position is called First Sergeant.
- In the Navy, an E9 is called the Master Chief Petty Officer or Master Chief.
- An E9 in a Command position in the Army is called Command Sergeant Major.
- In the Marine Corps is called Sergeant Major, and in the Air Force is called a Command Chief Master Sergeant.
- In the Navy, an E9 in a Command position is called the Command Master Chief but sometimes called Fleet or Fleet Master Chief, Force or Force Master Chief. When in doubt, if you see two stars, be respectful and call them Master Chief.
E9 Highest Enlisted Rank
- The highest-ranked E9 in each of the services is called the Sergeant Major.
- Sergeant Major of the Army
- Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force
- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy called Mckpon.
- Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Table: Military Enlisted Ranks and Titles
|Rank||Army||Marine Corps||Air Force||Navy|
|E1||Private||Private||Airman Basic||Seaman Recruit|
|E2||Private or PV2||Private First Class||Airman||Seaman Apprentice|
|E3||Private First Class||Lance Corporal||Airman First Class||Seaman|
|E4||Specialist/Corporal||Corporal||Senior Airman||Petty Officer, Third Class|
|E5||Sergeant||Sergeant||Staff Sergeant||Petty Officer, Second Class|
|E6||Staff Sergeant||Staff Sergeant||Tech Sergeant||Petty Officer, First Class|
|E7||Sergeant First Class||Gunnery Sergeant, or Gunny||Master Sergeant||Chief Petty Officer or Chief|
|E8||Master Sergeant||Master Sergeant||Senior Master Sergeant||Senior Chief Petty Officer or Senior Chief|
|E9||Sergeant Major||Master Gunnery Sergeant||Chief Master Sergeant||Master Chief Petty Officer, or Master Chief|
Army Enlisted Ranks Order Summary
The U.S. Army has nine enlisted ranks, designated as E-1 through E-9:
- Private (E1)
- Private Second Class (E2)
- Private First Class (E3)
- Specialist/Corporal (E4)
- Sergeant (E5)
- Staff Sergeant (E6)
- Sergeant First Class (E7)
- Master Sergeant/First Sergeant (E8)
- Sergeant Major/Command Sergeant Major/Sergeant Major of the Army (E9)
Army Enlisted Ranks Experience
There you have it, an executive summary of the Military Enlisted Ranks.
As a young Lieutenant, I was assigned as the medical platoon leader of the second of the 502’s Parachute Infantry Regiment in the 101st Airborne Division Air Assault.
The Battalion Commander was the special forces, and ranger tabbed infantryman who encouraged me to go into special forces.
But perhaps the most remarkable man in our battalion was our Command Sergeant Major.
He was skinny and scrappy, hard as woodpecker lips, and about 150 pounds soaking wet. I never saw him without a cigarette in his mouth and a harsh look on his face.
He had a combat infantryman’s badge from Vietnam and was the unit’s most feared and respected man. He didn’t speak very often, but what he said was gold.
I appreciated his leadership and mentoring and was able to learn early in my career that NCOs are the venerated backbone of the military. Nothing but respect. Thanks for reading.