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How to Master Military Ranks

By Rod Powers

Part of Basic Training For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Different branches have different military ranks. Here’s a list to help you prepare, whether you’re heading off to basic training for the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, or Marine Corps.


  • Army: E-1 Private, E-2 Private, E-3 Private First Class, E-4 Corporal/Specialist, E-5 Sergeant, E-6 Staff Sergeant, E-7 Sergeant First Class, E-8 Master Sergeant/First Sergeant, E-9 Sergeant Major

  • Air Force: E-1 Airman Basic, E-2 Airman, E-3 Airman First Class, E-4 Senior Airman, E-5 Staff Sergeant, E-6 Technical Sergeant, E-7 Master Sergeant, E-8 Senior Master Sergeant E-9 Chief Master Sergeant (Note: Air Force First Sergeants can be in the pay grades of E-7, E-8, or E-9)

  • Navy/Coast Guard: E-1 Seaman Recruit, E-2 Seaman Apprentice, E-3 Seaman, E-4 Petty Officer Third Class, E-5 Petty Officer Second Class, E-6 Petty Officer First Class, E-7 Chief Petty Officer, E-8 Senior Chief Petty Officer, E-9 Master Chief Petty Officer

  • Marine Corps: E-1 Private, E-2 Private First Class, E-3 Lance Corporal, E-4 Corporal, E-5 Sergeant, E-6 Staff Sergeant, E-7 Gunnery Sergeant, E-8 Master Sergeant/First Sergeant, E-9 Master Gunnery Sergeant/Sergeant Major

Warrant Officers (all branches except the Air Force):

W-1 Warrant Officer, W-2 Chief Warrant Officer Two, W-3 Chief Warrant Officer Three, W-4 Chief Warrant Officer Four, W-5 Master Chief Warrant Officer Five

Commissioned Officers:

  • Army/Air Force/Marine Corps: O-1 Second Lieutenant, O-2 First Lieutenant, O-3 Captain, O-4 Major, O-5 Lieutenant Colonel, O-6 Colonel, O-7 Brigadier General, O-8 Major General, O-9 Lieutenant General, O-10 General

  • Navy/Coast Guard: O-1 Ensign, O-2 Lieutenant (Junior Grade), O-3 Lieutenant, O-4 Lieutenant Commander, O-5 Commander, O-6 Captain, O-7 Rear Admiral (lower half), O-8 Rear Admiral (Upper half), O-9 Vice Admiral, O-10 Admiral