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Military Ranks In Order 2023

The United States Military has a vast array of ranks for its personnel across its six branches, from sergeants to petty officers to various commissioned officers.

There’s a lot to know. With so many ranks, it’s easy to confuse which are for who or what, even for someone currently serving.

This article makes things easier by going over all of them in order. By the end, you’ll know each and every rank in the US military. So, the next time you encounter a rank you’d otherwise be unfamiliar with, you’ll be good to go.

That said, whether you’re learning the military ranks because you plan on joining or you’re here just for the information, this article has got you covered; this is ‘Ranks of the United States Military.’

United States Military Branches

Before we dive into the specific ranks, let’s go over the six branches: the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Space Force.

Each branch refers to its service members differently. In the Army, you are a soldier. In the Navy, you are a sailor.

Marines are Marines. Air Force personnel are Airmen. Coast Guard personnel are Coast Guardsmen or Coasties, informally. And members of the Space Force are guardians.

Military BranchPersonnel
ArmySoldier
NavySailor
Marine CorpsMarine
Air ForceAirman
Coast GuardCoast Guardsman/Coastie
Space ForceGuardian
All Military Branches

While the Marines and Space Force are their own branches, they fall under the Department of the Navy and the Department of the Air Force, respectively.

As for the Coast Guard, it falls under the Department of the Navy in times of war. Otherwise, it is under the Department of Homeland Security, like it is now.

US Military Pay Grade

Regardless of the branch, each member of the military has a pay grade. These pay grades all have a letter followed by a number. The letters are E for enlisted, W for warrant officer, and O for commissioned officers.

The numbers go from E1 to E9, W1 to W5, and O1 to O10, respectively. Each military pay grade gets the same base pay, regardless of which branch you’re in.

For example, an E5 with four years of service in the Marines will have the same base pay as an E5 with four years of service in the Space Force.

There’s more that goes into a military paycheck, such as time in service, location, and specialty pay, but we won’t delve into that here.

US Military Enlisted Ranks: From E1 to E9

With all that said, we will go from the lowest rank in the military to the highest, which is from the enlisted ranks to the warrant officer ranks all the way to the commissioned officer ranks.

E1 Rank

The lowest rank in the military is an E1.  In the Army, this is a private. In the Navy, this is a seaman recruit.

There are also different titles depending on the field their rates are in. For example, there are firemen, construction, airman, and hospital men recruits.

For a Marine, this is a private. For the Air Force, it’s an airman basic. The Coast Guard has a seaman recruit. And for the Space Force, it’s Specialist 1.

 As you may have noticed, no service branch has an insignia for the rank of E1. You’ll have to wait until you reach E2 to get one of those.

  1. Army: Private
  2. Navy: Seaman Recruit
  3. Marine: Private
  4. Air Force: Airman Basic
  5. Coast Guard: Seaman Recruit
  6. Space Force: Specialist 1

E2 Rank

For E2s in the Army, this is a private second class. In the Navy, this is a seaman apprentice.  In the Marines, this is a private first class. In the Air Force, this is an airman. In the Coast Guard, this is a seaman apprentice.

But like the Navy, they also have firemen and airman apprentices. And in the Space Force, this is a Specialist Two.

  1. Army: Private Second Class
  2. Navy: Seaman Apprentice
  3. Marine: Private First Class
  4. Air Force: Airman
  5. Coast Guard: Seaman Apprentice
  6. Space Force: Specialist Two

E3 Rank

Moving on to E3. In the Army, this is a private first class. In the Navy, this is a seaman, as well as the other fields. In the Marines, this is a Lance Corporal.

In the Air Force, this is an airman first class. In the Coast Guard, this is a seaman, fireman, or airman. And in the Space Force, this is a Specialist Three.

  1. Army: Private First Class
  2. Navy: Seaman
  3. Marine: Lance Corporal
  4. Air Force: Airman First Class
  5. Coast Guard: Seaman
  6. Space Force: Specialist Three

E4 Rank

Now we’re onto E4. This is where you become a noncommissioned officer or NCO in some branches. In the Navy and Coast Guard, these are called Petty Officers.

Whether you’re on the seaman track, fireman track, airman track, etc., they all merge to become the same thing, a Petty Officer.

 In the Army, this is either a specialist or a Corporal. Specialists aren’t NCOs, but corporals are. In the Navy, this is a Petty Officer, Third Class.

In the Marines, this is a Corporal. In the Air Force, this is a Senior Airman. In the Coast Guard, this is a Petty Officer, Third Class. And in the Space Force, this is a Specialist Four.

  1. Army: Specialist or Corporal
  2. Navy: Petty Officer, Third Class
  3. Marine: Corporal
  4. Air Force: Senior Airman
  5. Coast Guard: Petty Officer, Third Class
  6. Space Force: Specialist Four

E5 Rank

Moving on to E5, every rank from here on out is a noncommissioned officer, regardless of branch. Leadership responsibility significantly increases for NCOs.

In the Army, this is a sergeant. In the Navy, this is a Petty Officer, Second Class. In the Marines, this is a sergeant.

In the Air Force, this is a Staff Sergeant. In the Coast Guard, this is a Petty Officer, Second Class. And in the Space Force, this is a Sergeant.

  1. Army: Sergeant
  2. Navy: Petty Officer, Second Class
  3. Marine: Sergeant
  4. Air Force: Staff Sergeant
  5. Coast Guard: Petty Officer, Second Class
  6. Space Force: Sergeant

E6 Rank

Now onto E6. In the Army, this is a staff sergeant. In the Navy, this is a Petty Officer First Class. In the Marines, this is a Staff Sergeant. In the Air Force, this is a Technical Sergeant.

In the Coast Guard, this is a Petty Officer First Class. And in the Space Force, this is a Technical Sergeant. In the Marine Corps, E6 is a big jump because you’re now considered a Staff NCO.

  1. Army: Staff Sergeant
  2. Navy: Petty Officer First Class
  3. Marine: Staff Sergeant
  4. Air Force: Technical Sergeant
  5. Coast Guard: Petty Officer First Class
  6. Space Force: Technical Sergeant

E7 Rank (Senior Noncommissioned Officers)

Moving on to E7. These are your senior noncommissioned officers. These are big jumps for the rest of the branches, especially the Navy, as becoming a chief is a very big deal.

In the Army, this is a Sergeant First Class. In the Navy, this is a Chief Petty Officer. Remember how we just said becoming a chief is a big deal?

There’s a chief induction where you can’t join the chief’s mess if you don’t participate. If that’s the case, you’d be considered an E7, not a chief.

In the Marines, this is a gunnery sergeant. In the Air Force, this is a master sergeant, and they also have first sergeants at this rank.

We’ll touch on first sergeants momentarily. In the Coast Guard, this is a Chief Petty Officer or sometimes Command Chief Petty Officer. And in the Space Force, this is a Master Sergeant.

  1. Army: Sergeant First Class
  2. Navy: Chief Petty Officer
  3. Marine: Gunnery Sergeant
  4. Air Force: Master Sergeant
  5. Coast Guard: Chief Petty Officer
  6. Space Force: Master Sergeant

E8 Rank (Technical and Administrative Positions)

At E8, this is where there’s a split between technical and administrative positions. You have the opportunity to serve in a leadership position at various command levels or stick to your main job and continue to be a subject matter expert.

The First Sergeants are the leadership ranks. In the Army, this is a Master Sergeant or a First Sergeant. You can tell the difference with the diamonds.

In the Navy, this is a Senior Chief Petty Officer. There are also opportunities for some Senior Chiefs to become Command Senior Chief Petty Officers.

In the Marines, this is a Master Sergeant or First Sergeant. In the Air Force, this is a Senior Master Sergeant or First Sergeant.

 In the Coast Guard, this is a Senior Chief Petty Officer. They also have a Command Senior Chief Petty Officer rank. And in the Space Force, this is a Senior Master Sergeant

  1. Army: Master Sergeant or a First Sergeant
  2. Navy: Senior Chief Petty Officer
  3. Marine: Master Sergeant or First Sergeant
  4. Air Force: Senior Master Sergeant or First Sergeant
  5. Coast Guard: Senior Chief Petty Officer
  6. Space Force: Senior Master Sergeant

E9 Rank (Highest Enlisted Rank)

Now onto E9s, the highest enlisted rank. In the Army, this is a Sergeant Major or Command Sergeant Major. In the Navy, this is a Master Chief Petty Officer or Command Master Chief Petty Officer. They also have Fleet and Force Master Chiefs, which are other senior administrative positions.

In the Marines, this is a Master Gunnery Sergeant or a Sergeant Major. In the Air Force, this is either a Chief Master Sergeant, First Sergeant, or Command Chief Master Sergeant.

In the Coast Guard, this is a Master Chief Petty Officer or Command Master Chief Petty Officer. And in the Space Force, this is a Chief Master Sergeant.

  1. Army: Sergeant Major or Command Sergeant Major
  2. Navy: Master Chief Petty Officer or Fleet/Command Master Chief Petty Officer
  3. Marine: Master Gunnery Sergeant or Sergeant Major
  4. Air Force: Chief Master Sergeant or Command Chief Master Sergeant
  5. Coast Guard: Master Chief Petty Officer or Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard
  6. Space Force: Chief Master Sergeant or Command Chief Master Sergeant

Higher E9 Rank Positions

There’s an even higher position for E9s, which makes them the highest enlisted person in the entire branch. In the Army, this is the Sergeant Major of the Army. In the Navy, this is the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy.

In the Marines, this is the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. In the Air Force, this is the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force.

In the Coast Guard, this is the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard. And in the Space Force this is the Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force.

  1. Army: Sergeant Major of the Army
  2. Navy: Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
  3. Marine: Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
  4. Air Force: Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force
  5. Coast Guard: Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard
  6. Space Force: Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force

Believe it or not, there’s one more enlisted rank above them all. It’s called the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A senior enlisted member of any branch can hold it. Currently, there are three rank insignias created for the position by the Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force; the Space Force is still designing theirs.

That’s a brief rundown of the enlisted personnel ranks of the United States military.

Enlisted Ranks List 2023

The following are the Enlisted Ranks in the US Military:

Pay GradeArmyNavyMarine CorpsAir ForceCoast GuardSpace Force
E1PrivateSeaman RecruitPrivateAirman BasicSeaman RecruitSpecialist 1
E2Private Second ClassSeaman ApprenticePrivate First ClassAirmanSeaman ApprenticeSpecialist 2
E3Private First ClassSeamanLance CorporalAirman First ClassSeamanSpecialist 3
E4Specialist/CorporalPetty Officer Third ClassCorporalSenior AirmanPetty Officer Third ClassSpecialist 4
E5SergeantPetty Officer Second ClassSergeantStaff SergeantPetty Officer Second ClassSergeant
E6Staff SergeantPetty Officer First ClassStaff SergeantTechnical SergeantPetty Officer First ClassTechnical Sergeant
E7Sergeant First ClassChief Petty OfficerGunnery SergeantMaster SergeantChief Petty OfficerMaster Sergeant
E8Master Sergeant/First SergeantSenior Chief Petty OfficerMaster Sergeant/First SergeantSenior Master Sergeant/First SergeantSenior Chief Petty OfficerSenior Master Sergeant
E9Sergeant Major/Command Sergeant MajorMaster Chief Petty Officer/Command Master Chief Petty OfficerSergeant MajorChief Master Sergeant/First Sergeant/Command Chief Master SergeantMaster Chief Petty Officer/Command Master Chief Petty OfficerChief Master Sergeant
E9+Sergeant Major of the ArmyMaster Chief Petty Officer of the NavySergeant Major of the Marine CorpsChief Master Sergeant of the Air ForceMaster Chief Petty Officer of the Coast GuardChief Master Sergeant of the Space Force

Military Enlisted Ranks List

Warrant Officer Ranks: From W1 to W5

Now we will move on to warrant officers. What is a warrant officer, you may ask?

Warrant officers are highly skilled, single-track specialty officers who are subject matter experts in their field.

You could say they’re in a weird limbo state in the military because they outrank all enlisted personnel but fall subordinate to commissioned officers.

Each branch uses them slightly differently, and to become one has different requirements respective to each branch. The Air Force and Space Force do not have warrant officers, so this section will not include them.

W1 Rank

Let’s kick it off with W1s. In the Army, Marines, and Navy, this is a Warrant Officer 1. The Coast Guard does not have this rank.

  1. Army: Warrant Officer 1
  2. Navy: Warrant Officer 1
  3. Marine: Warrant Officer 1
  4. Coast Guard: Warrant Officer 1

W2 Rank

On to W2. In the Army, Marines, Navy, and Coast Guard, this is a Chief Warrant Officer 2

  1. Army: Chief Warrant Officer 2
  2. Navy: Chief Warrant Officer 2
  3. Marine: Chief Warrant Officer 2
  4. Coast Guard: Chief Warrant Officer 2

W3 Rank

For W3 in all of these branches, it is a Chief Warrant Officer 3

  1. Army: Chief Warrant Officer 3
  2. Navy: Chief Warrant Officer 3
  3. Marine: Chief Warrant Officer 3
  4. Coast Guard: Chief Warrant Officer 3

W4 Rank

For W4, they’re all Chief Warrant Officers 4.

  1. Army: Chief Warrant Officer 4
  2. Navy: Chief Warrant Officer 4
  3. Marine: Chief Warrant Officer 4
  4. Coast Guard: Chief Warrant Officer 4

W5 Rank

For W5, each branch here but the Coast Guard is a Chief Warrant Officer 5. While the Coast Guard is authorized a W5, they have not appointed one to date.

  1. Army: Chief Warrant Officer 5
  2. Navy: Chief Warrant Officer 5
  3. Marine: Chief Warrant Officer 5
  4. Coast Guard: Chief Warrant Officer 5

Warrant Officer Ranks List 2023

The following are the Warrant Officer Ranks in the US Military:

Pay GradeArmyNavyMarine CorpsCoast Guard
W1Warrant Officer 1Warrant Officer 1Warrant Officer 1Warrant Officer 1
W2Chief Warrant Officer 2Chief Warrant Officer 2Chief Warrant Officer 2Chief Warrant Officer 2
W3Chief Warrant Officer 3Chief Warrant Officer 3Chief Warrant Officer 3Chief Warrant Officer 3
W4Chief Warrant Officer 4Chief Warrant Officer 4Chief Warrant Officer 4Chief Warrant Officer 4
W5Chief Warrant Officer 5Chief Warrant Officer 5Chief Warrant Officer 5Chief Warrant Officer 5

Military Warrant Officer Ranks List

Commissioned Officer Ranks: From O1 to O10

Now we’re moving on to the Commissioned Officers of the US Military. With the exception of some limited-duty officers, becoming an officer requires a bachelor’s degree at a minimum.

The commissioned ranks hold presidential commissions confirmed by the Senate and are the highest in the military. They outrank other enlisted members or warrant officers, regardless of what rank or time in service they have.

So yes, that means a 22-year-old butter bar fresh out of OCS outranks the highest-ranking enlisted person in the entire military.

But don’t get it twisted. In reality, that officer and officers, in general, will respect, learn, and be humbled by his or her senior enlisted colleagues.

For example, if that butter bar gave an order to a Sergeant Major, that Sergeant Major might execute that order, but they answer to someone much higher than that second lieutenant. So stuff like that would never happen.

O1 Rank

With that said, let’s dive into the commission officer ranks. O1 to O3 in the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps are company-grade officers; in the Navy, they are junior-grade officers.

Starting with the first commission officer rank, O1. In the Army, Marines, Air Force, and the Space Force, this is a Second Lieutenant. In the Navy and Coast Guard, this is an Ensign. This is that butter bar we were talking about earlier.

  1. Army: Second Lieutenant
  2. Navy: Ensign
  3. Marine: Second Lieutenant
  4. Air Force: Second Lieutenant
  5. Coast Guard: Ensign
  6. Space Force: Second Lieutenant

O2 Rank

  1. Army: First Lieutenant
  2. Navy: Lieutenant Junior Grade
  3. Marine: First Lieutenant
  4. Air Force: First Lieutenant
  5. Coast Guard: Lieutenant Junior Grade
  6. Space Force: First Lieutenant

O3 Rank

For O3s, in these four branches, this is a Captain.

  1. Army: Captain
  2. Navy: Lieutenant
  3. Marine: Captain
  4. Air Force: Captain
  5. Coast Guard: Lieutenant
  6. Space Force: Captain

O4 Rank

  1. Army: Major
  2. Navy: Lieutenant Commander
  3. Marine: Major
  4. Air Force: Major
  5. Coast Guard: Lieutenant Commander
  6. Space Force: Major

O5 Rank

  1. Army: Lieutenant Colonel
  2. Navy: Commander
  3. Marine: Lieutenant Colonel
  4. Air Force: Lieutenant Colonel
  5. Coast Guard: Commander
  6. Space Force: Lieutenant Colonel

O6 Rank

  1. Army: Colonel
  2. Navy: Captain
  3. Marine: Colonel
  4. Air Force: Colonel
  5. Coast Guard: Captain
  6. Space Force: Colonel

O7 Rank

O7s are when you start to get stars. These officers are classified as either general officers or flag officers.

  1. Army: Brigadier General
  2. Navy: Rear Admiral, Lower Half
  3. Marine: Brigadier General
  4. Air Force: Brigadier General
  5. Coast Guard: Rear Admiral, Lower Half
  6. Space Force: Brigadier General

O8 Rank

  1. Army: Major General
  2. Navy: Rear Admiral, Upper Half
  3. Marine: Major General
  4. Air Force: Major General
  5. Coast Guard: Rear Admiral, Upper Half
  6. Space Force: Major General

O9 Rank

  1. Army: Lieutenant General
  2. Navy: Vice Admiral
  3. Marine: Lieutenant General
  4. Air Force: Lieutenant General
  5. Coast Guard: Vice Admiral
  6. Space Force: Lieutenant General

O10 Rank

  1. Army: General
  2. Navy: Admiral
  3. Marine: General
  4. Air Force: General
  5. Coast Guard: Admiral
  6. Space Force: General

Commissioned Officer Ranks List 2023

The following are the Officer Ranks in the US Military:

Pay GradeArmyNavyMarine CorpsAir ForceCoast GuardSpace Force
O1Second LieutenantEnsignSecond LieutenantSecond LieutenantEnsignSecond Lieutenant
O2First LieutenantLieutenant Junior GradeFirst LieutenantFirst LieutenantLieutenant Junior GradeFirst Lieutenant
O3CaptainLieutenantCaptainCaptainLieutenantCaptain
O4MajorLieutenant CommanderMajorMajorLieutenant CommanderMajor
O5Lieutenant ColonelCommanderLieutenant ColonelLieutenant ColonelCommanderLieutenant Colonel
O6ColonelCaptainColonelColonelCaptainColonel
O7Brigadier GeneralRear Admiral, Lower HalfBrigadier GeneralBrigadier GeneralRear Admiral, Lower HalfBrigadier General
O8Major GeneralRear Admiral, Upper HalfMajor GeneralMajor GeneralRear Admiral, Upper HalfMajor General
O9Lieutenant GeneralVice AdmiralLieutenant GeneralLieutenant GeneralVice AdmiralLieutenant General
O10GeneralAdmiralGeneralGeneralAdmiralGeneral
O10+General of the ArmyAdmiral of the NavyGeneral of the Marine CorpsGeneral of the Air ForceAdmiralGeneral of the Space Force

Military Officer Ranks List

Joint Chiefs of Staff

Additionally, each branch also has a Chief of Staff, collectively known as the Joint Chiefs of Staff; they are the highest-ranking officers in their respective branches and serve as advisors to the President.

They’re four-star generals and admirals but outrank any other four-stars due to their position.

There’s the Chief of Staff of the Army, Chief of Naval Operations, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Chief of Space Operations, and the Chief of the National Guard Bureau.

Even though the National Guard technically isn’t a branch.

Additionally, there is a Commandant of the Coast Guard, but it’s technically not officially a part of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It’s de facto because, as we said before, the Coast Guard currently falls under the DHS.

  1. Chief of Staff of the Army
  2. Chief of Naval Operations
  3. Commandant of the Marine Corps
  4. Chief of Staff of the Air Force
  5. Chief of Space Operations
  6. Chief of the National Guard Bureau

Vice Chairman and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

There’s the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the number one and two highest-ranking officers in the military, respectively.

The Chairman and Vice Chairman can be officers from any of the regular components of the armed forces. Now for some ranks, most people didn’t know it existed.

There are five-star generals and admirals who have a pay grade of O10. The last five-star was Omar Bradley. They’re reserved for times of war and were last utilized during World War II.

What’s cool about these ranks is that five-star generals and admirals technically never retire. They receive active duty pay for the rest of their lives. That’s a pretty sweet gig.

6 Star General

It doesn’t stop there. There’s actually a six-star general. We’re not joking, six. It’s called General of the Armies or Admiral of the Navies.

While six stars have never actually been confirmed or designed.

The only two people to be given this title are John J. Pershing, even though this was back before five-star generals even existed, and posthumously to George Washington in 1976.

This made him the highest-ranking officer above all other grades of the army, past or present. And there you go. You now know every single rank that exists in the United States military, or more specifically, the armed forces and uniformed services.

Summary of Military Ranks

The Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security in times of peace. It is transferred to the Department of the Navy during times of war.

The Space Force is a new branch and is still in the process of developing its rank structure.

That’s all for the United States Military Ranks. Which is your favorite military rank? Let us know in the comments section below.

George N.