Military Ranks - Veterans Employment Toolkit
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Military Ranks

When hiring or working with a Veteran, it may be helpful for you, as an employer or supervisor, to better understand what his or her military experience or title means. You may look at the resume and see titles or abbreviations that have little meaning to civilians. This handout provides information about the difference between types of rank (enlisted vs. officer) and the hierarchy of the ranks.

Each rank is listed from lowest to highest in the chain of command for each branch.

Military Rank

E

Enlisted

An enlisted member is one who has joined the military or "enlisted." A minimum of a high school diploma is required.

NCO

Noncommissioned Officer

An NCO is an enlisted member who has risen through the ranks through promotion. NCOs serve as the link between enlisted personnel and commissioned officers. They hold responsibility for training troops to execute missions. Training for NCOs includes leadership, management, specific skills, and combat training.

W

Warrant Officer

A warrant officer is a highly trained specialist. One must be an enlisted member with several years of experience, be recommended by his or her commander, and pass a selection board to become a warrant officer.

O

Commissioned Officer

An commissioned officer's primary function is to provide management and leadership in his or her area of responsibility. Requires a bachelor's degree and later, as one progresses through the ranks, a master's degree for promotions. Specific commissioning programs exist (e.g., military academies, Reserve Officer Training Corps [ROTC]).

Army Ranks

Pay GradeTitleAbbreviation

E-1

Private

PVT

E-2

Private 2

PV2

E-3

Private First Class

PFC

E-4

Specialist

SPC

E-4

Corporal

CPL

E-5

Sergeant

SGT

E-6

Staff Sergeant

SSG

E-7

Sergeant First Class

SFC

E-8

Master Sergeant

MSG

E-8

First Sergeant

1SG

E-9

Sergeant Major

SGM

E-9

Command Sergeant Major

CSM

E-9 Special

Sergeant Major of the Army

SMA

W-1

Warrant Officer

WO1

W-2

Chief Warrant Officer 2

CW2

W-3

Chief Warrant Officer 3

CW3

W-4

Chief Warrant Officer 4

CW4

W-5

Chief Warrant Officer 5

CW5

O-1

Second Lieutenant

2LT

O-2

First Lieutenant

1LT

O-3

Captain

CPT

O-4

Major

MAJ

O-5

Lieutenant Colonel

LTC

O-6

Colonel

COL

O-7

Brigadier General

BG

O-8

Major General

MG

O-9

Lieutenant General

LTG

O-10

General

GEN

Special

General of the Army

GA

Air Force Ranks

Pay GradeTitleAbbreviation

E-1

Airman Basic

AB

E-2

Airman

Amn

E-3

Airman First Class

A1C

E-4

Senior Airman or Sergeant

SrA

E-5

Staff Sergeant

SSgt

E-6

Technical Sergeant

TSgt

E-7

Master Sergeant

MSgt

E-8

Senior Master Sergeant

SMSgt

E-8

Senior Master Sergeant

SMSgt

E-9

Chief Master Sergeant

CMSgt

E-9

Command Chief Master Sergeant

CCM

E-9 Special

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force

CMSAF

O-1

Second Lieutenant

2d Lt

O-2

First Lieutenant

1st Lt

O-3

Captain

Capt

O-4

Major

Maj

O-5

Lieutenant Colonel

Lt Col

O-6

Colonel

Col

O-7

Brigadier General

Brig Gen

O-8

Major General

Maj Gen

O-9

Lieutenant General

Lt Gen

O-10

General Air Force Chief of Staff

Gen

Special

General of the Air Force

GOAF

Navy/Coast Guard Ranks

Pay GradeTitleAbbreviation

E-1

Seaman Recruit

SR

E-2

Seaman Apprentice

SA

E-3

Seaman

SN

E-4

Petty Officer 3rd Class

PO3

E-5

Petty Officer 2nd Class

PO2

E-6

Petty Officer 1st Class

PO1

E-7

Chief Petty Officer

CPO

E-8

Senior Chief Petty Officer

SCPO

E-9

Master Chief Petty Officer

MCPO

E-9

Command Master Chief Petty Officer

MCPOC

E-9

Fleet Master Chief Petty Officer

FLTCM

E-9

Force Master Chief Petty Officer

FORCM

E-9 Special

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard

MPCOCG

E-9 Special

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy

MCPON

W-1

Warrant Officer

WO1

W-2

Chief Warrant Officer 2

CWO2

W-3

Chief Warrant Officer 3

CWO3

W-4

Chief Warrant Officer 4

CWO4

W-5

Chief Warrant Officer 5

CWO5

O-1

Ensign

ENS

O-2

Lieutenant, Junior Grade

LTJG

O-3

Lieutenant

LT

O-4

Lieutenant Commander

LCDR

O-5

Commander

CDR

O-6

Captain

CAPT

O-7

Rear Admiral (lower half)

RDML

O-8

Rear Admiral (upper half)

RADM

O-9

Vice Admiral

VADM

O-10

Admiral Chief of Naval Operations /Commandant of the Coast Guard

ADM

O-10 Special

Fleet Admiral

FADM

Marine Corps Ranks

Pay GradeTitleAbbreviation

E-1

Private

Pvt

E-2

Private First Class

PFC

E-3

Lance Corporal

LCpl

E-4

Corporal

Cpl

E-5

Sergeant

Sgt

E-6

Staff Sergeant

SSgt

E-7

Gunnery Sergeant

GySgt

E-8

Master Sergeant

MSgt

E-8

First Sergeant

1stSgt

E-9

Master Gunnery Sergeant

MGySgt

E-9

Sergeant Major

SgtMaj

E-9 Special

Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps

SgtMajMarCor

W-1

Warrant Officer 1

WO1

W-2

Chief Warrant Officer 2

CW2

W-3

Chief Warrant Officer 3

CW3

W-4

Chief Warrant Officer 4

CW4

W-5

Chief Warrant Officer 5

CW5

O-1

Second Lieutenant

2ndLt

O-2

First Lieutenant

1stLt

O-3

Captain

Capt

O-4

Major

Maj

O-5

Lieutenant Colonel

LtCol

O-6

Colonel

Col

O-7

Brigadier General

BGen

O-8

Major General

MajGen

O-9

Lieutenant General

LtGen

O-10

General

Gen