Salary of a Coast Guard Chopper Pilot

by Jeffrey Joyner
Coast Guard helicopter pilots conduct various missions, including search and rescue operations.

Coast Guard helicopter pilots conduct various missions, including search and rescue operations.

The Coast Guard is one of the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, although the Coast Guard is under the control of the Department of Homeland Security and the other four are part of the Department of Defense. Still, Coast Guard personnel receive the same pay as members of the other services of equivalent rank and time in service. Coast Guard chopper pilots are officers, with the same rank designations as the U.S. Navy.

Basic Pay – O-1 Through O-3

Basic monthly pay depends on rank and years of military service. If the pilot entered the Coast Guard as an ensign with a pay grade of O-1, basic pay in 2013 was $2,876.40 per month for the first two years, increasing to $2,994 after two years and $3,619.20 after three years. No increases in basic pay were available until promotion to the rank of lieutenant junior grade, which carried a pay grade of O-2. An O-2 with less than two years of service earned $3,314.10 per month. Basic pay increased to $3,774.30 after two years, $4,347 after three and $4,493.70 after four years. Maximum basic pay for the rank was $4,586.40, effective after six years of service. An O-3 pay grade designated a lieutenant. Basic monthly pay was $3,835.50 with less than two years, $4,347.90 with two years of service, $4,692.90 with three years and $5,116.50 with four years of service. After six years, pay increased to $5,361.60; after eight years, it was $5,630.70. Monthly basic pay for an O-3 with 10 years of service was $5,804.70, increasing to $6,090.60 at 12 years of service. Maximum pay for the rank was $6,240, achieved at the 14-year mark.

Basic Pay – O-4 Through O-6

A lieutenant commander, or O-4, had a monthly basic pay of $4,632.30 for those with less than two years of service. Upon achieving two years of service, pay increased to $5,049.90 and then increased to $5,386.80 at three years. After four years of service, pay was $5,461.80, and after six years it was $5,774.70. Monthly basic pay was $6,109.80 at eight years and $6,527.70 at 10 years of service. Additional step increases occurred at the 12-, 14- and 16-year marks, reaching a maximum for the pay grade of $7,283.70 for those with more than 18 years of service. An O-5 pay grade denotes a commander. Commanders with less than two years of service earned $5,055.90, those with at least two years earned $5,695.50 and those with three years of service earned $6,089.70 per month. Pay increased to $6,164.10 with four years of service and to $6,410.10 at the six-year mark. An O-5 with eight years of service earned $6,557.10. Maximum pay for the rank began at 22 years of service and was $8,589.90 per month. An O-6, or captain, earned $6,064.80 for the first two years of service, $6,663 after two years and $7,100.10 after three years. Upon reaching the six-year mark, pay increased to $7,127.10. An O-6 with eight years in-service earned $7,432.80, and those with 10 years earned $7,473. Maximum pay for the rank, achieved after 26 years of service, was $10,526.70 per month.


The Coast Guard furnishes food and quarters for personnel who accept on-base housing. For those preferring civilian quarters, housing and subsistence allowances were available. Housing allowances in 2013 ranged from $660.90 per month for an O-1 with no dependents to $1,394.10 for an O-4 with at least one dependent. The maximum housing allowance was reached at pay grade O-7 and was $1,822.50 with one or more dependents or $1,481.70 with no dependents. Subsistence allowances were determined by family size and ranged between $242.60 and $1,100 per month. Other special payments were possible, depending on assignment.

Becoming a Pilot

Coast Guard pilots without prior military flight training attend flight school after they are commissioned. Those who previously served as pilots on active duty may be eligible for a direct commission. Your local recruiter is the best source of information on current vacancies and qualifications.

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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