Officers in the United States Marine Corps are paid according to the National Defense Authorization Act, passed each year by Congress. This act establishes the pay for all members of the U.S. military, whether Air Force, Army, Marines or Navy, from the lowliest private to the highest-ranking general. How much a Marine officer is paid depends in part upon his rank and his time in the Corps, as well as certain personal circumstances.
The majority of a Marine officer's salary is normally his base pay, which is found by cross-referencing his rank with his time of service on the pay chart. For instance, a newly commissioned second lieutenant would follow the O-1 line representing his rank, and the column for those with less than two years of service time. This shows that, as of the 2013 pay charts, he would earn $2,877 a month in base pay, equal to $34,524 a year. On the other hand, a colonel with 15 years in the Corps would refer to the O-6 line and the column for those with over 14 years of time. This shows she would earn $7,898 a month, or $94,776 a year.
While the Marine Corps provides its members with on-base housing, some may opt to live off base. In that case, they may be eligible to receive the Basic Allowance for Housing, which pays varying amounts depending on where the Marine lives, his rank and whether or not he has dependents. This allowance can range from less than $1,000 a month to more than $4,000 as of 2013, based on circumstance. Marine officers are also eligible for the Basic Allowance for Subsistence, which pays a flat rate of $242.60 a month for officers as of 2013.
Another allowance that can upgrade a Marine officer's pay is the Cost-of-Living Allowance, or "COLA." This, too, varies based on several factors, such as where the Marine is stationed, rank and time in service, and whether or not she has dependents. This allowance can range from less than $100 a month to more than $400, again depending on individual circumstance.
Finally, Marine Corps officers who have special skills or assignments may be compensated with special pay. This may include flight pay for pilots and aircrew, as well as paratroopers; career-incentive pay for those in high-demand jobs; and hostile-fire pay for those serving in combat situations. Some of these payments are flat rates, while others vary based on rank or time in the service. For instance, a Marine pilot can earn $125 to $840 extra per month in career incentive pay, depending on time as an aviator, plus $150 to $250 a month in hazardous duty pay, depending on rank.
- Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images