Do You Get Paid While in Basic Training? Everything You Need to Know

by | Joining the Military | 1 comment

Thinking about joining the military can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. One of the most common questions you might have is whether you’ll get paid during basic training. After all, financial stability is crucial when making such a significant life decision.

The good news is, yes, you do receive pay while in basic training. This initial phase of your military career not only prepares you physically and mentally but also ensures you’re financially supported. So, as you begin on this transformative journey, you can have peace of mind knowing your financial needs will be met.

Overview of Basic Training Pay

Basic training includes financial compensation to support you during this crucial stage. Understanding how and when you’ll get paid ensures you can plan accordingly.

How Payment is Structured

Your basic training pay’s structured according to your rank and length of service. Most enlistees start as E-1s, receiving pay based on the military pay scale. This scale’s adjusted annually to account for cost-of-living changes. As of 2023, an E-1 with less than four months of service makes $1,917.63 per month. For those with more than four months, it’s slightly higher.

Special allowances might come into play, like the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) if you have dependents. But, while in basic training, these allowances are generally limited since your housing and meals are covered.

When Payments Begin

Payments start shortly after your arrival at basic training. Typically, you’d see your first paycheck within 30 days. But, it might take up to 45 days, depending on various administrative factors.

You’ll receive pay twice a month, on the 1st and the 15th. Direct deposit’s the norm, so ensure your bank details are accurate and up-to-date to avoid any delays.

Factors Influencing Basic Training Pay

Payment during basic training varies based on several key factors. Understanding these can help you navigate your military journey more effectively.

Military Branch Differences

Each branch has its own pay structure, affecting your earnings during basic training. For instance:

  • Army: Offers a base pay that starts at the rank of E-1 with no prior experience.
  • Navy: Pays similar base salaries but includes allowances for applicants in technical fields.
  • Air Force: Provides competitive base pay, with additional benefits like housing and food allowances.
  • Marine Corps: Strives for parity but includes unique incentives for challenging roles.
  • Coast Guard: Comes with distinct allowances due to unique operational demands.

Differences among branches can result in slight variations in your take-home pay.

Rank and Experience

Your rank and prior experience significantly influence your pay. New recruits typically start as E-1, but those with college credits or JROTC experience may enter at higher ranks like E-2 or E-3. Each rank comes with its own pay scale:

Rank Monthly Base Pay (2023)
E-1 $1,833.30
E-2 $2,054.70
E-3 $2,160.60 – $2,436.00

Also, time in service (TIS) matters. Longer service results in higher basic pay, creating incremental increases throughout your career.

Understanding these factors helps plan your finances while in basic training. Each variable directly impacts your earnings, so knowing your branch’s specifics and your rank’s pay scale is essential.

Additional Allowances and Benefits

Aside from the regular pay during basic training, there are several additional allowances and benefits designed to support you. These benefits contribute significantly to your overall financial package.

Food and Housing Allowances

The military provides a Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) to cover food costs. While in basic training, meals are usually provided in the mess hall so the allowance may be small. But, the BAS ensures you don’t have to worry about meal expenses.

For housing, the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) comes into play once you complete basic training. BAH depends on your rank, pay grade, and location. This allowance ensures you have adequate housing options without financial strain.

Health and Travel Benefits

Health care benefits in the military include comprehensive medical and dental coverage through TRICARE. This coverage begins as soon as you start basic training, ensuring you have access to medical care if needed.

Travel benefits cover relocation costs when assigned to a new duty station. You’ll receive a Per Diem allowance for travel days, ensuring your transition to new locations is smooth and cost-effective.

How to Access and Manage Your Pay

Basic training marks the start of your military career. Getting your pay sorted early helps ensure financial stability and reduce stress.

Setting Up Direct Deposit

Direct deposit is the most efficient way to receive your pay during basic training. Upon arriving at your training site, you’ll complete essential paperwork, including forms for direct deposit. Ensure your bank account details are accurate to avoid payment delays. Most banks have specific procedures for setting up military direct deposits, so check with your financial institution for any unique steps.

Budgeting on a Basic Training Salary

Managing a budget on a basic training salary can be challenging but essential. Start by listing all your expenses, such as personal items and communication costs. Basic training doesn’t come with high expenses since many necessities are covered, but tracking your expenditures helps avoid financial pitfalls. Use a budgeting app to monitor your spending and identify areas to cut back.

Expense Category Estimated Costs Per Month
Personal Items $50-$100
Communication $30-$50
Savings At least 10% of your pay

Adding a savings component to your budget ensures you build a financial cushion. Even setting aside a small amount each month creates long-term benefits.


Understanding the payment structure and additional allowances during basic training is crucial for your financial stability. By knowing how your pay is determined and what benefits you’re entitled to, you can better manage your finances. Setting up direct deposit promptly and creating a budget will help you make the most of your basic training salary. Remember to account for personal expenses and savings to ensure a smooth transition into military life. Proper financial planning sets the foundation for a stable future both during and after your training.


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