How much can you earn as a U.S. Army culinary specialist?

Joining the U.S. Army as a culinary specialist can be a rewarding career choice, especially for those with a passion for food and service. As a culinary specialist, you will be responsible for preparing and serving food in field or garrison food service operations. But how much can you expect to earn in this role? Let’s delve into the details.

Base Pay

The base pay for a U.S. Army culinary specialist, like all other enlisted personnel, is determined by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) and is based on rank and years of service. As of 2021, the starting salary for an enlisted soldier at the E-1 level (Private) with less than two years of service is ,785 per month. This increases as you move up in rank and years of service. For example, an E-5 (Sergeant) with six years of service earns ,114 per month.

Allowances and Benefits

In addition to the base pay, Army personnel also receive allowances for housing, subsistence, and cost of living, if eligible. The Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) varies depending on location, rank, and family status. The Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) for 2021 is 6.50 per month for enlisted personnel.

Moreover, the Army provides comprehensive health care, education benefits, and a retirement plan. The value of these benefits can significantly increase the overall compensation.

Special Pay

Depending on the circumstances, Army culinary specialists may also be eligible for special pays. For instance, they may receive hostile fire pay, hardship duty pay, or sea pay if they meet certain criteria.

Advancement Opportunities

As a culinary specialist, there are also opportunities for advancement and increased pay. With experience and additional training, you can move up the ranks and take on more responsibilities. The Army also offers programs that can help you earn a degree in culinary arts or hospitality management, which can further enhance your career prospects.


In conclusion, the pay for a U.S. Army culinary specialist can vary widely depending on rank, years of service, location, and other factors. However, when considering a career in the Army, it’s important to look beyond just the base pay. The valuable skills you learn, the benefits you receive, and the opportunities for advancement can all contribute to a rewarding career.

Remember, serving in the Army is not just about earning a paycheck. It’s about serving your country, gaining valuable life and career skills, and being part of a team. If you’re passionate about food service and want to make a difference, a career as a U.S. Army culinary specialist could be a great fit for you.