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United States Military Ranks & Insignia

A SCARS Guide to help with recognizing fakes!


Updated with Space Force Ranks

Military rank is more than just who salutes whom. Military rank is a badge of leadership. Responsibility for personnel, equipment, and mission grows with each increase in rank.

Do not confuse rank with pay grades, such as E-1, W-2, and O-5. Pay grades are administrative classifications used primarily to standardize compensation across the military services. The “E” in E-1 stands for “enlisted” while the “1” indicates the pay grade for that position. The other pay categories are “W” for warrant officers and “O” for commissioned officers. Some enlisted pay grades have two ranks.

The Army, for example, has the ranks of corporal and specialist at the pay grade of E-4. A corporal is expected to fill a leadership role and has a higher rank than a specialist even though both receive the same amount of pay. In the Marine Corps, master gunnery sergeants and sergeant majors are E-9s, but the sergeant major has the higher rank.


Army and Marine Corps Navy and Coast Guard Air Force  Space Force 
Commissioned Officers
0-1 Second Lieutenant Ensign Second Lieutenant Second Lieutenant
0-2 First Lieutenant Lieutenant Junior Grade First Lieutenant First Lieutenant
0-3 Captain Lieutenant Captain Captain
0-4 Major Lieutenant Commander Major Major
0-5 Lieutenant Colonel Commander Lieutenant Colonel Lieutenant Colonel
0-6 Colonel Captain Colonel Colonel
0-7 Brigadier General Rear Admiral Brigadier General Brigadier General
0-8 Major General Rear Admiral Major General Major General
0-9 Lieutenant General Vice Admiral Lieutenant General Lieutenant General
0-10 General Admiral General General
Special Grades
(5 stars) General of the Army Fleet Admiral General of the Air Force General of the Space Force
Warrant Officers
W-1 Warrant Officer
W-2–W-5 Chief Warrant Officer Chief Warrant Officer
Enlisted Personnel
E-1 Private Seaman Recruit Recruit Specialist 1
E-2 Army Private/
Marine Private First Class
Seaman Apprentice Airman Specialist 2
E-3 Army Private First Class/
Marine Lance Corporal
Seaman Airman First Class Specialist 3
E-4 Corporal Petty Officer, Third Class Senior Airman Specialist 4
E-5 Sergeant Petty Officer, Second Class Staff Sergeant Sergeant
E-6 Staff Sergeant Petty Officer, First Class Technical Sergeant Technical Sergeant
E-7 Army Sergeant First Class
Marine Gunnery Sergeant
Chief Petty Officer Master Sergeant Master Sergeant
E-8 Master Sergeant Senior Chief Petty Officer Senior Master Sergeant Senior Master Sergeant
E-9 Sergeant Major Master Chief Petty Officer Chief Master Sergeant Chief Master Sergeant
Special Grades
Sergeant Major Master Chief Petty Officer Chief Master Sergeant Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force

United States Military Enlisted Ranks & Insignia

Enlisted Ranks

Service members in pay grades E-1 through E-3 are usually either in some kind of training status or on their initial assignment. The training includes the basic training phase where recruits are immersed in military culture and values and are taught the core skills required by their service component.

Basic training is followed by a specialized or advanced training phase that provides recruits with a specific area of expertise or concentration. In the Army and Marines, this area is called a military occupational specialty; in the Navy, it is known as a rate; and in the Air Force or Space Force, it is simply called an Air Force specialty.

Army: * For rank and precedence within the Army, specialist ranks immediately below corporal. Among the services, however, rank and precedence are determined by pay grade.

Navy / Coast Guard: * A specialty mark in the center of a rating badge indicates the wearer’s particular rating. ** Gold stripes indicate 12 or more years of good conduct. *** 1. Master chief petty officer of the Navy and fleet and force master chief petty officers. 2. Command master chief petty officers wear silver stars. 3. Master chief petty officers wear silver stars and silver specialty rating marks

The U.S. Coast Guard is a part of the Department of Homeland Security in peacetime and the Navy in times of war. Coast Guard rank insignia is the same as the Navy except for color and the seaman recruit rank, which has one stripe.

NOTE: Appearance of U.S. Space Force insignia is the same as the U.S. Air Force.