US Navy: Enlisted Sailor vs Officer

With more than 324,000 active-duty personnel and 106,000 reserve personnel, the United States Navy is the largest naval force in the world. As you may already know, it’s responsible for carrying out naval operations to deter aggression and maintain freedom of the seas. But if you’re thinking about joining the Navy, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the nuances of enlisted soldiers and officers.

An enlisted sailor is a servicemember of the Navy. To become an enlisted sailor, there are certain criteria that you must meet. This includes but is not limited to a high school diploma or GED. With that said, there are different responsibility ranges for enlisted soldiers, including entry-level, enlisted supervisory, advisory and managerial.

In the past, enlisted sailors in the Navy were given enlisted ratings. On September 29, 2016, however, the Navy decided to eliminate the use of enlisted ratings. This was a huge change for the Navy, as it had used enlisted ratings for the past 241 years. Instead of enlisted ratings, sailors are now referred to by their rank and Navy Operations Specialty (NOS).

Of course, there are also officers in the U.S. Navy, which have a higher rank than enlisted sailors. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can join the Navy as an officer — not without first working your way up from an enlisted sailor.

Also known as a commissioned officer, officers in the Navy are required to have additional education and training. This typically includes a degree from a four-year college or university at minimum, as well as Office Training. Office responsibilities include low-level management, middle-level management and high-level command.

It’s important to note that Chief Warrant Officers and Limited Duty Officers have no degree requirement. The Navy explains that most officers have a college degree, but this isn’t a prerequisite for becoming an officer.

Not surprisingly, officers in the Navy earn more than enlisted sailors. “In the Navy and other branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, pay is dependent upon rank and years of service,” explains the Navy. The Navy’s website also provides real-world examples, revealing the average monthly salary for enlisted sailors is between $1,566 and $2,614.20, whereas the average monthly salary for officers is between $2,972.40 and $7,447.10. As you can see, there’s a substantial pay difference between enlisted sailors and officers.

Hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of enlisted sailors and officers in the Navy. You can learn more about the pay differences between enlisted sailors and officers by visiting the Navy’s official website at