Additional Pay & Allowances for an E-4
In addition to Basic Pay, a Specialist may be eligible to receive several types of allowances and incentive pay.
Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)
Basic Allowance for Housing is a monthly payment meant to subsidize a servicemember's housing while deployed. The amount of BAH received each month depends on the location in which they live.
The average Basic Housing Allowance for a Specialist with dependants is $1,548.40, or $1,228.08 with no dependants.
Basic Allowance for Subsistance (BAS)
All enlisted members of the Army receive a monthly allowance for food and drink of $
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Enlisted members' BAS is higher than officers' BAS, as enlisted members are generally responsible for buying their own food.
Hazard Pay / Hostile Fire Pay
A Specialist may receive hazard pay of $165.00 / mo while serving in an active combat zone or subject to hostile fire or other hazards.
The Base Pay for a Deployed E4 Specialist in the Army
Enlisted pay grades begin at E-1 and go through E-9. Base pay is the same for all members of the Armed Forces of equal rank and years of service. An E-4 Army specialist is one who has technical expertise and may have completed a college degree or specialized civilian training. An E-4 receives the same base pay as a corporal, but as a non-commissioned officer, a corporal has greater leadership responsibilities and outranks a specialist. Deployment does not affect base pay, but it may impact other types of pay and allowances.
About Military Pay
The U.S. Department of Defense normally revises its pay table annually. The pay table establishes base or basic pay that takes into account the service member's rank and the number of years of military service. Other allowances, such as those for off-base housing and food, are based on the number of dependents the service member supports. When deployed, soldiers might receive their food and housing on post and are therefore ineligible for subsistence or housing allowances. The DoD pay tables also address special pay, such as combat pay and sea duty.
Basic Pay for E-4
Although most E-4 specialists have completed at least two years of service, it is possible to enlist at that rank if the candidate has earned a bachelor's degree and does not desire or qualify for the officer corps. With less than two years of service, monthly base pay was $2,139.00 for an E-4 in 2018. The basic pay was $2,248.50 per month for those with at least two years of service but less than three years. For three and four years, monthly base pay was $2,370.30 and $2,490.60, respectively. With five years of service, an E-4 earned $2,596.50 per month, the maximum allowed in 2018 for soldiers of this rank, which means that the only route to a pay increase is through a promotion in rank.
Special Pays for Deployed Soldiers
Not included in basic pay are amounts that deployed soldiers may receive. In addition to base pay, soldiers may qualify for a family separation allowance of $250 per month if deployed to an area where dependents are not permitted. Hazardous duty pay, as of 2018, is $150 per month. Hostile fire or imminent danger pay is $225 per month. Enlisted soldiers qualify for $340 per month in diving pay, and an E-4 earns up to $308 per month for sea duty.
Allowances Often Lost When Deployed
Typically, the Army supplies deployed soldiers with food and lodging. If so, they lose their housing and subsistence allowances while they are deployed. How much an E-4 receives depends on where they live and whether they have dependents. For example, an E-4 living off post in Los Angeles could qualify for $2,067.00 per month if single or $2,739.00 per month with at least one dependent for housing. Additionally, an E4 can qualify for $369.39 a month for food as of 2018. However, if deployed to an area where they are not required to live or eat on-base, even deployed soldiers might qualify for housing and subsistence allowances.
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.
What Is a Specialist in the U.S. Army?
Knowing the duties and benefits for different U.S. Army ranks can help you determine which role is right for you. Regardless of the U.S. Army rank that you aspire to, knowing all its requirements is likely to increase the odds of you reaching it. Becoming a specialist in the U.S. Army is an important career step, but it requires research and discipline. In this article, we discuss what an army specialist is, what their job duties are, how much they earn and how to become one.
What is a U.S. Army specialist?
An army specialist is a junior enlisted rank in the U.S. Army and is equivalent in pay to a corporal. The rank of specialist is an E-4 position that typically involves basic management duties as well as commanding lower-ranked soldiers. The rank just below specialist is private first class, and the rank just above that is corporal.
Related:Top 7 Benefits of Joining the U.S. Army
What does a specialist do?
The specialist is the lowest U.S. Army rank that involves leadership responsibilities. This rank is unofficially called a team leader and usually manages a small group of lower-ranked privates. The official role of a specialist is to make sure that the privates they are assigned to manage have expertise in their duties and responsibilities. The title of specialist derives from the requirement that they possess specialized knowledge in the activities performed by the soldiers they are assigned to manage.
Specialists have a wide scope of activities, depending on the nature of the work environment and the different duties that the soldiers under their command have to perform. Their work environment can be indoors, outdoors or both, while their work locations can include combat situations, airfields, clinics, hospitals, recreational facilities and construction sites.
Related:The 13 U.S. Army Enlisted Ranks
How much does a specialist earn?
A specialist's salary depends on their total years of service. According to the U.S. Department of Defense website, the basic pay for a specialist with less than two years of service is $27,151 per year. The salary increases with each extra year of service, and a specialist with five years of experience will earn a salary of $32,958 per year.
A U.S. rmy specialist also receives several other benefits aside from the yearly salary. These include medical and dental insurance and a housing allowance adjusted to the cost of living in the specialist's geographical area. Specialists also receive an army pension after 20 years of service. They may also be entitled to other bonuses, such as the hazardous duty bonus.
Related:What Is E-4 Rank in the U.S. Army? (With Salary)
How to become a specialist in the U.S. Army
The usual steps for becoming a U.S. Army specialist are:
1. Earn a high school diploma
All soldiers must have a high school diploma or equivalency. Other strict requirements are that they are U.S. citizens and are in sound psychological and physical condition.
2. Complete basic training
Also called the Initial Entry Training, this consists of basic combat training designed to challenge the recruit both physically and mentally. It typically lasts 10 weeks.
3. Enlist in the U.S. Army
The first step towards the rank of specialist is to enlist in the U.S. Army and to attain the most basic rank of private. Everyone who successfully completes basic training receives the rank of private, and they keep that rank until they move to an active U.S. Army unit.
4. Complete Advanced Individual Training
Courses for Advanced Individual Training can last from four weeks to seven months and are designed to specialize soldiers for various U.S. Army roles. These courses provide soldiers with the hard skills required for various U.S. Army roles and also help them gain important soft skills like work ethic and discipline. Some of the most popular advanced individual training courses are:
- Adjutant General School
- Air Defense Artillery School
- Military Police School
- Infantry School
- Ordnance Mechanical Maintenance School
- Department of Defense Fire Academy
- Engineer School
- Financial Management School
- Field Artillery School
5. Become a private second class
To become a private second class, you must complete basic training and gain the rank of private. You'll then complete the advanced individual training courses and successfully join an active U.S. Army unit.
6. Become a private first class
You gain the rank of private first class by completing at least one year of private first class duties and sustaining a high performance level. The rank of private first class implies a greater level of individual responsibility because you attain it as a request from a superior officer who recognized your strong work.
7. Be promoted to specialist
Private first class soldiers can gain promotion to specialists after at least two years of successful service. Privates who constantly demonstrate their abilities and keep a strong overall performance record are typically promoted to specialists right after completing the minimum two years of service. Those who have performed less adequately or inconsistently can expect to spend more time as a private first class before earning the promotion.
8. Earn a college degree
Alternatively, you can directly earn the specialist rank by graduating with a four-year college degree. Soldiers who show exceptional results and discipline levels can earn promotions to specialists directly from ranks like private and private second class. They usually do this after completing the Advanced Individual Training, and a group's commander has the authority to promote up to 10% of the privates under their command.
9. Follow all rules and regulations
Soldiers who show discipline and demonstrate both physical and mental strength can increase their odds of being promoted and gaining ranks.
Related:What Is the Difference Between the U.S. Army and the Marines?
Equal ranks in other branches of the military
Other branches of the military have ranks that are equivalent to that of a specialist. They are:
- Airforce: Senior airman
- Coast Guard: Petty officer third class
- Marine Corps: Corporal
- Navy: Petty officer third class
Army Ranks » Specialist Rank • SPC Pay • SPC Rank History • Promotion Information
E-4 Specialist - Enlisted Soldier - U.S. Army Ranks
|Title||Specialist (last name)|
|Paygrade|| E-4 (DoD Paygrade) |
OR-4 (NATO Code)
Specialist is a junior enlisted rank in the United States Army, equivalent in salary to a Corporal. Specialists have basic management duties and may command soldiers of lower rank, although most leadership duties at this pay grade are the responsibility of Corporals.
Specialist is the most common rank advancement available to a Private First Class, and becomes available after two years of service and upon completion of a leadership and officer candidate training course. Recruits who enlist in the Army with a four-year Bachelor's Degree, or desired civilian skills and experiences, may be entitled to enter the Army as a Specialist.
Specialist is the 4th rank in the United States Army , ranking above Private First Class and directly below Corporal. A specialist is an Enlisted Soldier at DoD paygrade E-4, with a starting monthly pay of $2,263.
How do you become a Specialist?
A Specialist is most often promoted from Private First Class (PFC), although promotion from lower paygrades may occur with sufficient display of leadership and experience. Click here to learn more about promotion to Specialist.
What is the proper way to address a Specialist?
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The correct way to address a Specialist named Mr. Rodriguez is "Specialist Rodriguez", or written as SPC Rodriguez. In formal situations, a Specialist should always be addressed by their full rank.
How much does a Specialist earn?
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Basic pay for an entry-level Specialist with 2 or less years of experience is $2,262.60 per month.
A Specialist receives an automatic raise to their basic pay every one to two years. Basic pay is only a small percentage of a Specialist's final compensation package.
In addition to a monthly basic pay salary, a Army Specialist may be eligible for multiple types of allowances and bonus pay including food allowance, hazard pay, and more.
For full details on the Army's Specialist compensation and retirement plan, visit the 2021 Army Specialist Pay Chart. A full table of the Army's current paygrades are available at the Army Pay Chart.
Military Occupational Specialties for Army's E-4 Specialist
To learn more about Military Occupational Specialties, see our complete list of MOS job titles.
Equivalent Ranks to the Army's E-4 Specialist
To learn more about the Army's rank structure, see our complete list of Army ranks.
The Government civilian-employee equivalent of a Specialist is paid under the General Schedule payscale. For more details, see this Army rank to GS grade conversion table .
To see a list of military medals and decorations that can be earned by servicemembers in the Army and other branches of the military, see our list of military decorations and medals.
Army specialist pay
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