navy personnel specialist

Navy Personnel Specialist (PS): 2023 Career Details

Navy Personnel Specialists (PS) are the Navy’s customer support representatives for their fellow sailors. 

The PS provides their shipmates with both counseling and information regarding Navy-related occupations. They also provide information on general education and job training opportunities, rights and benefits, and promotion requirements.

The Personnel Specialist also helps to decode and determine travel entitlements. They help calculate military pay and associated deductions, as well as maintain and audit payroll and personnel records for Navy enlisted personnel. 

The PS also prepares accounting/financial reports related to travel and pay transactions and updates the associated accounting systems.

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Personnel Specialist (PS) became an official Navy rating in 2005 when the Navy merged the Disbursing Clerk (DK) and Personnelman (PN) ratings. These original ratings go back to 1948.

ps navy rate
PS2 (SW) LaShay Nelson fills out record charts aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) July 1, 2014, while underway in the Persian Gulf. (Source: U.S. Navy MC3 Keith)

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Requirements and Qualifications

To serve as a Personnel Specialist (PS) in the United States Navy, you must meet certain requirements:

Personnel Specialist is one of the few Navy ratings that don’t require US citizenship.

Training and Career Path

Like all other Navy enlisted personnel, Personnel Specialists must successfully complete 10 weeks of Navy Recruit Training. This takes place at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes (RTC Great Lakes).

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The five-week-long Personnel Specialist (PS) A School is located in Meridian, Mississippi.

personnel specialist
PS3 Josephine Fabia assigned to the executive department aboard the USS America (LHA 6), operates a fire hose during hose team training in the ship’s hangar bay.  (Source: U.S. Navy MCSN Hand)

Through a combination of group and individualized instruction, as well as practical application, future PSs are familiarized with the forms and procedures of naval personnel administration.

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What’s Life Like for a Personnel Specialist (PS)?

The day-to-day duties of a Personnel Specialist include answering questions and updating personnel records that pertain to leave balances, pay stubs, payroll deductions, travel itineraries, and travel pay.

You’ll spend time onboarding new personnel, processing transferring personnel, and helping them prepare for changes in permanent duty station or retirement. 

You’ll also be processing the paperwork for other types of separations.

A Personnel Specialist is your unit’s go-to person for information related to Navy occupations and promotion information. You’ll advise on their rights and benefits,  and counsel them on the requirements for promotion or change of rating.

You’ll also be able to help them access their educational and training benefits.

One of the most rewarding tasks for a Personnel Specialist is the ability to assist sailors and their families during times of personal hardships or special problems.

Whether it’s filing for emergency leave or accessing special care for minor dependents, you’ll be able to help your fellow sailors recover and thrive through life’s ups and downs. 

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PS1 James Long Jr. mentors PS2 Charles Tobler on his advancement profile sheet, giving some much-needed advice on how to advance to Petty Officer First Class. (Source: US Navy / MM3 Deugan)

Personnel Specialists normally work in office environments. Depending on the assignment, most of the work is administrative in nature.   

PSs may work with others under close supervision or alone with limited supervision.

While ashore, Personnel Specialists are usually assigned to a Personnel Support Detachment (PSD). When at they are traditionally assigned to the Personnel, Supply, Training, or Administrative Departments.

Navy Personnel Specialists (PS) Sea/Shore Rotation

Personnel Specialists enjoy a great Sea/Shore Rotation.

A PS will spend about 75 percent of their time ashore and 25 percent of their time assigned to the fleet.

TourSea TourShore Tour
First Tour48 Months36 Months
Second Tour42 Months 36 Months
Third Tour42 Months36 Months
Fourth Tour36 Months36 Months
Fifth Tour36 Months36 Months
Sixth Tour36 Months36 Months
Seventh Tour36 Months36 Months

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PS2 Natalie Howe of Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Phoenix, sings the National Anthem during a pre-season baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres. (Source: Navy Personnel Specialist (PS): Career Details U.S. Navy / MC2 Deneault)

How Much Are Personnel Specialists (PS) Paid?

Like all the other Armed Services, the Navy bases a sailor’s pay on their rank and length of service.

InsigniaPay Grade RankAbbreviation2023 Minimum Monthly Pay
N/AE-1 +4 monthsSeaman RecruitSR$1,917.60
E-2Seaman ApprenticeSA$2,149.20
e-3 navy seamanE-3SeamanSN$2,259.90
petty officer third classE-4Petty Officer Third ClassPO3$2,503.50
petty officer second classE-5Petty Officer Second ClassPO2$2,730.30
petty officer first classE-6Petty Officer First ClassPO1$2,980.50
chief petty officerE-7Chief Petty OfficerCPO$3,445.80
senior chief petty officerE-8Senior Chief Petty OfficerSCPO$4,957.20
master chief petty officerE-9Master Chief Petty OfficerMCPO$6,055.50
command master chief petty officerE-9Command Master Chief Petty OfficerCMDCM$6,055.50
master chief petty officer of the navyE-9Master Chief Petty Officer Of The NavyMCPON$6,055.50

Like all military service members, PSs may also receive additional compensation. These include a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), sea pay, and other incentives. 

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Job Reviews

I must admit that I was amazed at the overwhelmingly positive reviews by current and former Personnel Specialists. 

I thought that it would be much less so, given the intense customer service aspect of the rating. Such is not the case:

The Department of the Navy’s Credentialing Opportunities Online (COOL) website estimates that there are about 2,300 men and women serving as Personnel Specialists in the Navy today.

Personnel Specialist at work
PS3 Ferdirick Domingo assists a Sailor with his Navy cash card account in the disbursing office aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). (Source: U.S. Navy / MC2 Evans)

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Civilian Career Opportunities

Civilian career opportunities abound for Personnel Specialists exiting or retiring from the Navy.  These include:

  • Customer Service Representative
  • Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks
  • Administrative Service Managers
  • Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists
  • Human Resource Specialists
  • Branch/Department Financial Managers
  • Clerical Library Assistants

Opportunities for prior Personnel Specialists also exist with the Department of Homeland Security as Import Specialists and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Technicians.

Personnel Specialists should take advantage of the training and educational opportunities offered. Some of the better-paying civilian equivalent positions may require a college degree. 

The United States Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP) also allows PSs to complete several of their civilian apprenticeship requirements while on active duty.

Personnel Specialists can earn a broad range of national certifications, federal licenses, and state licenses.

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If you’re interested in a Navy career, give consideration to the Personnel Specialist rating. 

The field may be an especially good fit for you if you’re people-oriented, good at record-keeping, detail-oriented, and can clearly communicate your ideas.

Life as a Personnel Specialist in the Navy allows you to serve your country and see the world. You’ll also learn valuable skills to aid you in your career after the Navy. 


Find A Navy Recruiter

Official Navy Human Resources Careers Page

U.S. Navy Personnel Command Personnel Specialist (PS) Overview

Navy COOL Summary For Personnel Specialist (PS)

United States Navy COOL Personnel Specialist (PS) Rating Card

Navy Personnel Specialist (PS) Reviews –

Travis R.
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