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Civilian to Military Rank -

In the federal government, and particularly in the Department of Defense, interactions between military and civilian employees are common. Additionally, military personal frequently transition into civilian roles within the federal government after their service.

However, military personal and civilian federal employees are on different pay scales. This can make it difficult to determine equivalency between military and civilian ranks.

WARNING: Since publishing this article, we have received hundreds of messages from military personnel telling us that our mapping is incorrect. Unfortunately, almost all the the message we receive are conflicting as well. In truth, there is no universal mapping between military and GS ranks. Age, education level, and time-in-service matters significantly when determining determine proper conduct for social and diplomatic purposes between civilians and military personnel.

One way to mapping between military ranks and civilian GS grades is to look at what each level gets paid. Click here to see military pay and GS pay side-by-side. However, this mapping is imperfect. It is unfair, but civilian employees are paid more than military personal with roughly the same level of education, experience, and responsibility.

In particular, the table below under-represents the responsibility given to senior NCO (E-8 and E-9). However, this is how most official government sources, such as DoD 1000.01, do the mapping.

Despite these limitations, our mapping may be useful in some situations. These ranks are NOT necessarily equivalent in terms of scope of experience, responsibility, or education.

These mappings are rough estimates. Age and experience level are a huge factor and is often more significant than grade alone. These ranks are based several different official government sources. If you see a problem with this information please contact us with your suggestions.

Equivalent Civilian to Military Ranks

Civilian Grade Military Rank Army Title
GS-1 E-1 Private
GS-2 E-2 Private 2
GS-3, GS-4 E-3 Private First Class
GS-4 E-4 Specialist, Corporal
GS-6 E-5 Sergeant
GS-6, GS-7 E-6 Staff Sergeant
GS-7 E-7 Sergeant First Class
GS-7 E-8 Master Sergeant or First Sergeant
GS-7 E-9 Sergeant Major or Command Sergeant Major
GS-8 W-1 Warrant Officer 1
GS-8 W-2 Chief Warrant Officer 2
GS-8 W-3 Chief Warrant Officer 3
GS-8 W-4 Chief Warrant Officer 4
GS-8 W-5 Master Warrant Officer
GS-9 O-1 Second Lieutenant
GS-10 O-2 First Lieutenant
GS-11, GS-12 O-3 Captain
GS-13 O-4 Major
GS-14 O-5 Lieutenant Colonel
GS-15 O-6 Colonel
SES Level V O-7 Brigadier General
SES Level IV O-8 Major General
SES Level III O-9 Lieutenant General
SES Level I & Level II O-10 Army General

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Topics: DepartmentsGS PayLEOMilitarySES
** This Document Provided By - The Civil Employee's Resource **