Because the Navy is charged with maintaining the health and fitness of thousands of sailors, it must employ trained medical personnel. Pharmacists are among the naval medical staff and receive commissions as officers when they enter the service. Pharmacists’ base pay is structured the same as other officers’ salaries, though they receive an additional amount to compensate for their medical training.
The Department of Defense and the Defense Finance Accounting Service pay all officers of similar rank the same monthly salary. Their service branch and specialty have no impact on their base pay. An officer’s rank and tenure in the Navy determine his base pay. A lieutenant, junior grade — pay scale O-2 — with fewer than two years in the military receives base pay of $2,745.60 each month, as of the 2010 fiscal year. A commander — pay grade O-5 — with 10 years’ service to the Navy receives $6,567.60 each month.
Medical Special Pay
Although specialties in the armed forces usually don’t receive additional pay, those in the medical field earn a monthly special-pay stipend. Pharmacists with fewer than five years in the service receive an additional $5,000 amortized throughout the year; variable pay may rise as high as $12,000 per year. Pharmacists who agree to serve beyond their residency receive an additional $15,000 yearly in special pay, regardless of their time in the service. Board-certified pharmacists are also entitled to a $2,500 annual pay increase beyond base pay.
Allowances for Basic Housing and Cost of Living
The Department of Defense supplements certain pharmacist officers’ pay with stipends to help defray living expenses. Pharmacists who live outside of military-provided housing receive a basic allowance for housing to cover living costs. The amount of this allowance varies by rank, the costs of the housing market in which the pharmacist is stationed and whether or not he has dependents. This allowance is roughly equivalent to rent prices in the area around a particular base. A cost of living allowance is also provided to pharmacists who live in 10 states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington. This amount is intended to cover differentials in food, utilities and other costs in expensive areas.
Pharmacists may receive additional pay depending upon where they're stationed. The Department of Defense awards imminent danger pay and hostile fire pay to all personnel stationed in combat zones or inherently unstable areas. This amount is $225 monthly, regardless of rank or area. Hardship duty pay is provided as an incentive to sailors stationed in areas with a standard of living that’s considerably lower than that of the continental United States. This allowance is awarded in increments of $50, $100 and $150, depending upon the conditions in which a sailor is stationed, and is uniform to all qualifying personnel with no considerations made for rank or tenure.
Wilhelm Schnotz has worked as a freelance writer since 1998, covering arts and entertainment, culture and financial stories for a variety of consumer publications. His work has appeared in dozens of print titles, including "TV Guide" and "The Dallas Observer." Schnotz holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University.