navy seal ranks and pay

Navy SEAL Ranks

What is the Navy SEAL rank structure? Is it any different from the rest of the Navy?

Like any branch of the U.S. Military there is a command structure with plenty of different ranks.

Related Article: Navy Ranks and Pay For 2020

Here is a detailed breakdown of the ranks of the approximately 2,000 enlisted U.S. Navy SEALs that are led by an additional 500 Navy SEAL officers.

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Navy SEAL Enlisted Rankings Structure

The following list contains Navy SEAL ranks and pay based on non commissioned and senior non commissioned officers.

This breakdown includes ranking insignia, abbreviation of ranking, overview of the role, and minimum monthly pay. It’s important to note that for each rank listed, we have listed the absolute minimum for what they earn in basic pay. Pay can be higher depending on years in service and various special pays such dive pay, and other skilled incentive pay.

Related Article: Most Popular SEAL Cadences

First off, here’s a chart of Navy SEAL enlisted ranks:

InsigniaRankAbbreviationMinimum Pay (monthly)
e-5 navy rankE-5PO2$2,468
e-6 navy rankE-6PO1$2,694
e-7 navy rankE-7CPO$3,114
e-8 navy rankE-8SCPO$4,480
e-9 navy rankE-9MCPO / CMDCM / MCPON$5,473

Seaman (E-3)

Abbreviation: SN

How they are identified:

navy seal seaman
The insignia of E-3. Image:

Rank overview: Seaman is considered the entry level of the U.S. Navy SEALs and the third lowest ranking among enlisted in the USN.

Navy Seaman (E-3) are classified as apprentices that remain in training. Most of them are already part of Fleet at the time of training.

Fleet E-3s have already earned basic qualifications and understand how to navigate a ship. The experience and knowledge is helpful in this entry-level role, as well as future placement in higher rankings.

Fleet Seamen will have a number of different responsibilities within their Division. As they provide basic maintenance and watch, Navy Seamen also prepare for the role of Petty Officers.

Minimum Monthly Pay: $2,043

Petty Officer Third Class (E-4)

Abbreviation: PO3

How they are identified:

navy seal petty officer first class
The insignia of Navy SEAL Petty Officer. Image: Wikimedia

Rank overview: By the time most members reach E-4 they have made it to Fleet. There are a few rare exceptions, but by now most are fully trained and prepared for general duties.

E-4s are the most junior of all Petty Officer ranks. Leadership and becoming self-sufficient are major priorities of this ranking.

Members are qualified to hold watch and may also conduct maintenance and repairs on certain equipment.

Petty Officers help mentor junior Seamen to help improve their leadership skills. E-4s will also begin to attend advanced schools to build upon other skills.

Minimum Monthly Pay: $2,263

Petty Officer Second Class (E-5)

Abbreviation: PO2

How they are identified:

navy seal petty officer 2nd class
The insignia of Petty Officer Second Class. Image: Wikimedia

Rank overview: The mid-grade E-5 operates between Petty Officers and First Class Petty Officers.

Skills continue to get enhanced in watch stations and maintenance. Mentoring is another big component of the role for junior Seamen and Petty Officers.

Leadership roles will continue to get expanded along with several important collateral duties. E-5s are attending advanced schools and starting work on supervisory qualifications.

Minimum Monthly Pay: $2,468

Petty Officer First Class (E-6)

Abbreviation: PO1

How they are identified:

navy seal first class petty officer
First Class Petty Officer (E-6). Image:

Rank overview: E-6s represent the highest grade of Petty Officers. They serve as Divisional leadership and delegate assignments.

First Class Petty Officers primarily oversee work and only execute the most difficult and complex tasks themselves.

Mentoring is a major part of their duty as they remain in charge of day-to-day operations. They receive consultation by a Chief Petty Officer (CPO).

Minumum Monthly Pay: $2,694

Chief Petty Officer (E-7)

Abbreviation: CPO

How they are identified:

navy seal chief petty officer
The insignia of Chief Petty Officer (E-7). Image: Wikimedia

Rank overview: Chief Petty Officers (E-7) are considered the heart of the “deckplate”, or ground-level leadership. The uniform resembles that of an officer, and thus are treated accordingly.

E-7s are very seasoned and knowledgeable. Their supervision includes supervision of all Petty Officers.

The training and mentoring of Junior Officers is the primary duty of E-7 Officers. The Officer and Chief work in close coordination during this training.

Each Chief represents his or her own Division or Department.

Minimum Monthly Pay: $3,114

Senior Chief Petty Officer (E-8)

Abbreviation: SCPO

How they are identified:

navy seal senior chief rank
Senior Chief Petty Officer insignia. Image: Wikipedia

Rank overview: E-8s, or Senior Chief Officers are extremely seasoned and outstanding service members.

E-8s closely communicate with Department Heads as well as Chiefs.

Their primary responsibility is to train new Chiefs. E-8s are not nearly as present on the deckplate as E-7s.

Minimum Monthly Pay: $4,480

Master Chief Petty Officer (E-9)

Abbreviation: MCPO

How they are identified:

U.S. Navy SEAL Master Chief Petty Officer. Image: Wikimedia

Rank overview: Master Chiefs are the most seasoned members of the Chiefs Mess, or rankings E-7, E-8 and E-9.

Their voice is heavily considered in every discussion as they represent the largest department on the ship.

Master Chiefs ensure communication, unity, and cooperation.

Minimum Monthly Pay: $5,473

Command Master Chief Petty Officer (E-9)

Abbreviation: CMDCM

How they are identified:

navy seal master chief
Master Chief Petty Officer insignia. Image:

Rank overview: Command Master Chiefs are the leading Chief on ships or shore-based units.

They are a walking and talking example for how the rest of the ship should conduct themselves. The example they establish is crucial.

Their role is part of a “Command Team” that also includes a CO and XO.

Minimum Monthly Pay: $5,473

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (E-9)

Abbreviation: MCPON

How they are identified:

navy seal ranks
E-9 Master Chief Petty Officer Of The Navy insignia. Image:

Rank overview: The Master Chief Petty Officer (MCPON) represents the senior enlisted person in the Navy.

The position is the principal enlisted advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations.

The primary duties include addressing concerns and complaints of enlisted sailors throughout the Navy.

Minimum Monthly Pay: $5,473

Related Article: How to Join the U.S. Navy

Navy SEAL Officer Rankings Structure

The following list contains Navy SEAL officer ranks and pay based on junior, senior, and flag officers.

This breakdown includes the officer ranking insignia, abbreviation of ranking, overview of the role, and minimum monthly pay. As with enlisted ranks, it’s important to mention again that for each rank listed, we have given the absolute minimum for what they earn in basic pay. Pay can be higher depending on years in service and various special pays such dive pay, and other skilled incentive pay.

First off, here’s a chart of Navy SEAL officer ranks:

InsigniaRankAbbreviationMinimum Pay (monthly)
o-1 navy rankO-1ENS$3,287
o-2 navy rankO-2LTJG$3,787
o-3 navy rankO-3LT$4,383
o-4 navy rankO-4LCDR$4,985
o-5 navy rankO-5CDR$5,778
o-6 navy rankO-6CAPT$6,931
o-7 navy rankO-7RDML$9,140
o-8 navy rankO-8RADM$11,000
o-9 navy rankO-9VADM$15,546
o-10 navy rankO-10ADM$16,422

Ensign (O-1)


How they are identified:

navy seal ensign
Ensign insignia. Image:

Rank overview: An Ensign (0-1) represents the lowest ranking officer in the United States Navy. The rank is held for two years until the Officer is promoted to O-2.

Ensigns have a variety of different roles. They spend time earning the respect of their crew during this two year phase.

Fleet Ensigns are traditionally assigned a Division. They may manage anywhere from five to 50 different personnel.

Minimum Monthly Pay: $3,287

Lieutenant Junior Grade (O-2)

Abbreviation: LTJG

How they are identified:

navy seal officer insignia

Rank overview: Lieutenant Junior Grade holds this position for two years after progressing from Ensign.

O-2s may have already spent several months in the Fleet, or may start shortly after being promoted.

The responsibilities of an O-2 increase with the promotion. They are usually in charge of more soldiers and duties are more complex.

Minimum Monthly Pay: $3,787

Lieutenant (O-3)

Abbreviation: LT

How they are identified:

navy seals ranking structure

Rank overview: Lieutenants in the U.S. Navy SEALs is different than the role in the Army, Marines, and Air Force where they represent O-1 or O-2.

The expectations for an O-3 is high and is expected to be fully warfare qualified by this point in time.

Lieutenants are the principal mentors of Junior Officers and provide much of the training as well as direction.

Minimum Monthly Pay: $4,383

Lieutenant Commander (O-4)

Abbreviation:  LCDR

How they are identified:

navy seal officer ranks

Rank overview: O-4s are usually referred to as Lieutenant Commanders. An LCDR handles what is called “billets”, or jobs that vary based on the community.

O-4s are professionals that are assigned based on equivalent years of experience, offering quicker advancement.

Minimum Monthly Pay: $4,985

Commander (O-5)

Abbreviation: CDR

How they are identified:

navy seal o-5 insignia

Rank overview: While an 0-5 in the Navy would generally command anything from a destroyer to a submarine, O-5’s in the SEAL teams will command a SEAL team.

Commanding Officers are usually referred to as “Skipper” or “Captain”. The latter of which is only used for sea-going Commanders.

O-5s are specialized professionals with equivalent years of experience, much like 0-4s.

Minimum Monthly Pay: $5,778

Captain (O-6)

Abbreviation: CAPT

How they are identified:

navy seal o-6 insignia

Rank overview: Captains (O-6) serves as the Commanding Officer of Major Commands. Certain ships, like an Aircraft Carrier, feature multiple O-6s.

Captains are assigned sea-going as well as shore-based roles. They are placed in varying political empowerment depending on their inherent “track” towards a flag position.

Minimum Monthly Pay: $6,931

Rear Admiral Lower Half (O-7)

Abbreviation: RDML

How they are identified:

navy seal o-7 insignia

Rank overview: Rear Admiral Lower Half (O-7) oversee operations on ships. They work closely with Commanding Officers.

Overall planning and movement is a priority. They also oversee major shore-based commands too.

Minimum Monthly Pay: $9,140

Rear Admiral (O-8)

Abbreviation: RADM

How they are identified:

navy seal o-8 insignia

Rank overview: Rear Admirals (0-8) handle many of the same responsibilities as O-7s though with a greater emphasis.

They are usually stationed on a ship and are able to speak with Commanding Officers directly.

Minimum Monthly Pay: $11,000

Vice Admiral (O-9)

Abbreviation: VADM

How they are identified:

navy seal o-9 insignia

Rank overview: Vice Admirals are generally in charge of the highest Navy Commands. They also serve as deputies of Combatant or Geographic Commands.

Flag rank officers from any service may get selected for Joint Commands. An example of this would be AFRICOM.

Minimum Monthly Pay: $15,546

Admiral (O-10)

Abbreviation: ADM

How they are identified:

Navy SEAL O-10 insignia. Image:

Rank overview: Admirals (ADM) hold the highest position within Navy Commands, or Combatant or Geographic Commands.

Like O-9s, Admirals may get selected from any service for Joint Commands, such as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS).

Minimum Monthly Pay: $16,422

Related Article: How to Make Sure Someone is a Navy SEAL

As before, we mentioned that the pay listed for each rank is the absolute minimum. The big factor to influence it would be time served in the Navy. An 03 that’s been in 6 years would make $6,128 in basic pay. Other factors to consider for an increase in pay would be SkIP, or Skill Incentive Pay for those that have been certified in parachute, dive, and/or demolition. This pay can range from $515 to $715 monthly whether one is deployed or not.

Non Commissioned Officer Vs. Commissioned

Non-commissioned officers of Navy SEAL ranks structure hold lower positions than commissioned officers. Their roles and responsibilities are more limited.

They also receive less pay per month than most commissioned ranks. Commissioned officers have more training than non-commissioned officers, though non-commissioned members can eventually move up in ranking.

Junior Officer Vs Senior Officer

Senior Officers have more priority and higher ranking than Junior Officers, yet both still serve under the leadership of commissioned officers.

Junior Officers fill the lower ranks of units, usually answering to senior officers which help provide guidance and mentoring. The goal of Junior Officers is to progress to Senior Officers.

Senior Officer Vs. Flag Officer

Based on the Navy SEAL ranks and pay, Flag Officers receive better benefits than Senior Officers. They are both high ranking positions, though Flag Officers are considered the most elite.

They receive the most pay of any Navy SEAL member and have incredibly diverse and important responsibilities. Senior Officers are important in their own right, serving as Division Heads and other important roles.

Related Article: Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) Training Explained


As you can see, the ranking structure of the US Navy SEALs is identical to the rest of the Navy as a whole.

This also applies to the Navy’s elite SEAL team as well, often referred to as DEVGRU, or by it’s moniker SEAL Team 6.

If you have any questions on any of this, feel free to leave a comment below!

Rob V.
Navy SEAL Ranks

Navy SEAL Ranks

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Learn more about the rank structure of US Navy SEALs, including enlisted and officers. Also includes info on the minimum base pay, and answers frequently asked questions.
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One Reply to “Navy SEAL Ranks

  1. Hello,
    thank you for the information. I watched the movie ‘Tears of the Sun’ (sorry for referencing a movie which must be a very tiresome source of misinformation); and assumed that Lieutenant was a senior rank. I think mostly of old British navy ranks where (ships) Captain is a field officer; army equivalent Colonel or General (obviously somtimes an Admiral). Just under the Captain is the Lieutenant which I thought was Major or Colonel. This was strengthened by the idea that an operation like that (in the movie) would not be led by someone lower than Major rank (army). But wikipedia equates Lieutenant (navy) with Captain (army)
    Would a Naval (SEAL) of rank Lieutenant (if it is equivalent to an army Captain) be in charge of such a sensitive, and difficult operation. I realise he was only in charge of a small operation, considering numer of men, one platoon equivalent, I think)
    I do not mean any disrespect to the officers of lower rank. But a 40 year old (And Bruce Willis was closer to 50) Lieutenant (navy)/ Captain (army) seems to stand out. I am not a military person, (but I do not think I need to say so)

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