Highest Paying Jobs in the Military

Some military jobs pay well, especially if you get a graduate degree and stay in the military long-term. Pay is based on rank and time in, with additional pay for professional specialties. This article discusses some of the highest paying jobs in the military, job descriptions, and how to get them.

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Highest Paying Career Options in the Military

Not only can you earn an excellent living in the military, your compensation will include great benefits, including tax-free housing, food and clothing allowances; life, health and dental insurance; 30 days of vacation per year; help paying for college; and, for officers, opportunities to pursue graduate education. Read below about some military careers that pay very well.

Job Title Average Salary (2014)* Applicable Military Skills/Traits
Dentists $179,121 Leadership skills, physical stamina, communication skills
Physicians and Surgeons $145,512 Dexterity, communication skills, physical stamina, leadership skills, compassion
Lawyers $110,530 Verbal skills, critical thinking & problem solving, leadership skills
Chief Executive Officers $171,224 Math & science skills, critical thinking & problem solving, leadership skills, verbal skills
Ship and Boat Captains $146,984 Technology design & control, leadership skills, equipment operation & maintenance, math & science skills, critical thinking & problem solving


Relevance to Military Background

As in civilian life, the military must offer certain professional services to enlisted individuals. Among those offerings are specialists in healthcare, such as dentists, physicians and surgeons, along with legal experts like lawyers. Somewhat differently than the civilian realm, the military also requires highly trained personnel who have experience in combat, weapons, communications and engineering. Those positions include chief executive officers and ship/boat captains. These highly-paid military positions are explained in the following descriptions.

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Career Information for the Highest Paying Military Jobs


Healthcare officers who are dentists examine, diagnose and treat patients' teeth, gums and mouths. They advise patients about oral care and dietary choices that affect the health of the teeth and gums. To become a military dentist, you need an undergraduate degree and a doctoral degree from a dental school. Dental officers are amongst the highest paid personnel in the Armed Forces.

Physicians and Surgeons

Healthcare officers serving as physicians examine, diagnose and treat patients' injuries and illnesses, order tests, and prescribe medicines. Surgeons operate on patients with injuries and illnesses. To become a physician or surgeon one needs a four-year undergraduate degree, four years of medical school, and additional training in a specialty during a residency and internship--these vary by specialty from three to seven years. Surgeons and physicians are also very lucrative careers, in the military as well as the civilian sectors.


Military officers may also serve as attorneys, representing and advising service members about legal matters in the military's internal legal system. They may defend or prosecute military clients in civil or criminal cases. To become a military lawyer, you need an undergraduate degree, to pass the Law School Admissions Test, and a Juris Doctor degree in law from a law school. Military attorneys, known as JAGs (Judge Advocate General), are one of the highest paid specialties in the Armed Forces.

Chief Executive Officers

Combat specialty officers lead service members in battle; manage, plan and direct military operations and campaigns; and coordinate missions. They may oversee naval ships, tanks, or artillery units and personnel. Officers who gain experience leading others in combat over many years may become generals and admirals, who are some of the highest paid military personnel. To become a combat specialty officer one needs a graduate degree, to pass officer candidate school, and combat experience.

Ship and Boat Captains

Boat and ship captains are experienced officers who oversee the different departments on ships and submarines, e.g. weapons, communications, supply and engineering. For these lucrative jobs, post-secondary training is usually required, along with considerable experience in the military.

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