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The Army's Air Traffic Control Pay Scale

by Jeffrey Joyner, studioD

Army air traffic control operators handle control towers and equipment at military airfields. Candidates cannot be color blind, and they must be able to speak English clearly and pass a physical. They must achieve a score of at least 100 on the general science, word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, math knowledge and mechanical comprehension sections of the ASVAB, a series of tests all enlistees take before joining the military. A history of drug or alcohol abuse can disqualify candidates. The position is open to enlisted soldiers, with pay based on the U.S. Department of Defense annual military pay tables.

Starting Pay

Newly enlisted air traffic control operators typically begin their Army careers with a pay grade of E-1. During the first four months of service, E-1s receive $1,402.20 per month in basic pay, according to the 2013 Department of Defense pay table. Because they are completing basic combat training and advanced individual training, E-1s are not likely eligible for allowances for civilian housing or subsistence during this time.

Basic Pay: Grades E-1 Through E-3

Pay grades E-1 and E-2 both represent privates in the Army. An E-1 private in the Army is the equivalent of the Navy's seaman recruit or Air Force's airman basic ranks and normally applies to newly enlisted soldiers. Soldiers are eligible for promotion to E-2 as soon as they finish basic training, and most receive promotion within six months of enlisting. With one year in the Army, E-2s can earn a promotion to E-3, or private first class. As of 2013, after completing basic training, E-1s earn $1,516.20 per month, the maximum for the grade. An E-2 earns $1,699.80 per month, regardless of time in service. An E-3 with less than two years in the Army earns $1,787.40, increasing to $1,899.90 after two years and $2,014.80 after three years.

Basic Pay: Grades E-4 Through E-6

An E-4 in the Army may be either a specialist or a corporal. They receive the same pay, but corporals normally have more supervisory duties and are considered non-commissioned officers while specialists are not. Promotions from E-3 to E-4 typically require three to six months' time at the lower grade and 26 months of military service. Beginning at the E-5 level, promotions cease to be based solely on time spent in the previous grade and time served. Soldiers may need to appear before promotions boards or earn promotions based on a points system. An E-5 is a sergeant, and an E-6 is a staff sergeant. In 2013, an E-4 earns between $1,979.70 and $2,403.30, depending on years of service, an E-5 earns from $2,159.40 to $3,064.20 and basic pay for an E-6 ranges between $2,357.10 and $3,650.70.

Basic Pay: Grades E-7 Through E-9

Pay grades E-7 through E-9 represent Army ranks of sergeant first class, first sergeant and sergeant major, respectively. An E-8 may also have the title of master sergeant, and an E-9 may be a command sergeant major. Promotion typically requires at least six years in the service for an E-7, eight years for an E-8 and 9 years for an E-9. As of 2013, the salary ranges were $2,725.20 to $4,897.80 for an E-7, $3,920.10 to $5,591.40 for an E-8 and $4,788.90 to $7,435.20 for an E-9.


Enlisted soldiers living in civilian housing off base receive up to $1,100 per month for food, depending on family size. Housing allowances range from $487.20 to $1,184.10 monthly for enlisted personnel, depending on rank and family status. Clothing allowances range from $1,533.95 to $1,756.94 the first year, and from $327.60 to $522 in subsequent years.

About the Author

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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