Enlisted Navy Rates

Unlike the other U.S. military services, which organize servicemembers according to ranks, the Navy organizes its force according to rates, although it also follows the same E-1 to E-9 pay grade structures as the other services. The rate of an enlisted Sailor can be determined by their rating badge, which is a combination of a rate (pay grade) badge of stripes or chevrons, depending on rank, and rating (occupational specialty), represented by the symbol just above the stripes or chevrons on the left sleeve of most uniforms.

Enlisted navy rates are broken down into three levels: Apprenticeships (E-1 through E-3), Petty Officers (E-4 through E-6), and Chief Petty Officers (E-7 through E-9).

Apprentices (E-1 through E-3)

The enlisted pay grades E-1 through E-3 in the Navy are commonly referred to as apprenticeships. Each apprenticeship is designated to indicate eligibility for entry into various ratings. General apprenticeship designators include:

    Airman - Aviation Ratings
  • E-2 - Airman Apprentice (AA)
  • E-3 - Airman (AN)

    Fireman - Naval Engineering Ratings
  • E-2 - Fireman Apprentice (FA)
  • E-3 - Fireman (FN)

    Seaman - Deck and Administrative Ratings
  • E-2 - Seaman Apprentice (SA)
  • E-3 - Seaman (SN)

    Dentalman - Dental Ratings
  • E-2 - Dentalman Apprentice (DA)
  • E-3 - Dentalman (DN)

    Hospitalman - Health Care Ratings
  • E-2 - Hospitalman Apprentice (HA)
  • E-3 - Hospitalman (HN)
Navy apprenticeships are your first steps in becoming an integral part of the Navy. As an apprentice your job will be to apply the skills and knowledge you learned in basic training, begin training for your future career in the Navy, and continue developing your followership skills. You will be expected to follow all orders and tasking given by your superiors.

Seaman Recruit (E-1)

Seaman Recruit (SR) is the lowest enlisted rank in the U.S. Navy, just below Seaman Apprentice. Two separate pay grades exist within this rank one for those with service of less than four months, with a higher pay scale for those in service for more than four months, even if they have not yet advanced to Seaman Apprentice. Navy Seaman recruits currently do not bear any uniform rank insignia.

Moving up in Rate: The Navy will automatically advance you to E-2 when they have completed six months time-in-service (TIS), assuming you stay out of trouble and your performance remains satisfactory.

Seaman Apprentice (E-2)

The actual title for an E-2 in the U.S. Navy varies based on the community to which the Sailor belongs.

  • Those in the general deck and administrative community are Seamen Apprentice. They wear White stripes on navy blue uniforms (see image below), and navy blue (black) stripes on white uniforms.
  • Hospital Corpsmen are Hospitalmen Apprentice. They are the only rate in this community. They wear White stripes on navy blue uniforms, and navy blue stripes on white uniforms.
  • Those in the engineering and hull community are called Firemen Apprentice and wear red strips on both navy blue and white uniforms.
  • Those in the aviation community are called Airmen Apprentice and wear green stripes on both navy blue and white uniforms.
  • Seabees are called Constructionmen Apprentice and wear light blue stripes on both navy blue and white uniforms.

Navy Seaman Apprentice insigniaThe Seaman Apprentice's Role and Responsibilities
Navy apprenticeships are your first steps in becoming an integral part of the Navy. As an apprentice your job will be to apply the skills and knowledge you learned in basic training, begin training for your future career in the Navy, and continue developing your followership skills. You will be expected to follow all orders and tasking given by your superiors.

Moving up in Rate: The Navy will automatically advance you to E-2 when they have completed six months time-in-service (TIS), assuming you stay out of trouble and your performance remains satisfactory.

Seaman (E-3)

As with Apprentice Seamen (E-2), the actual title for an E-3 in the Navy depends on the subset of the Navy to which the sailor, seaman, submariner, aviator, hospitalman, nurse, etc., has been assigned. Likewise, the color of his/her group rate mark also depends on his section of the Navy.

Navy Seaman insigniaThe Seaman's Role and Responsibilities
The duties performed by Seamen include ship maintenance; equipment maintenance, repair, and storage for underway operations; lookout and helmsmen duties; serving as a member of damage control, emergency and security alert teams; participating in naval ceremonies; and working with qualified personnel to gain job training and experience.

Moving up in Rate: Like advancement to E-2, advancement to E-3 is virtually automatic. However, some units may require you to complete certain Professional Qualifications or Apprenticeships Exams prior to being declared eligible. In addition to your CO's approval, you must have 12 months time-in-service (TIS) and nine months time-in-rate (TIR).

Petty Officers (E-4 through E-6)

Promotions to the rates of Petty Officer Third Class (E-4) through Chief Petty Officer (E-7) are based on a limited number of vacancies, and are competitive. Advancement examinations for E-4 to E-6 are held every year in March and September, and advancement exams for E7 are conducted annually in January. To be eligible for promotion consideration, the sailor would have to meet the minimum Time in Rate (TIR) requirements for promotion to the next paygrade, your commanding officer's recommendation, and your results in the Navywide Advancement-in-Rate Competition. The competition is based on your final multiple score (FMS).

Navywide Advancement-in-Rate Maximum Final Multiple Scores (FMS)
Factor
E-4/E-5
Max
Points
E-6
Max
Points
E-7
Max
Points
Exam Score
80
80
80
Performance Marks Average (PMA)
84
110
52
Service in Paygrade
(SIPG)
30
34
Awards
10
12
Pass Not Advanced
(PNA) Points
30
30
Maximum Possible FMS Points
234
266
132

The Exam
Navy Advancement-in-Rate Examinations have 200 questions, some of which are based on occupational standards and others on professional military knowledge (PMK). The occupational/PMK ratios are:

  • 100/100 for E7
  • 115/85 for E6
  • 135/65 for E5
  • 150/50 for E4
The occupational questions are presented first, followed by the PMK questions. The PMK questions will be identical for all candidates, across ratings, within pay grades. The Bibliography for Advancement Study (Bibs) are exam-specific. The exams are time limited to three hours.

The Performance Marks (PMA) Points
Your evaluations, or Performance Marks, are extremely important as they can be worth up to 84 points (36%) of your FMS. To determine the final point value of your marks simply multiply your average mark (PMA) by 60, then subtract 156.
(PMAx60)-156= your PMA Score.
Example: 4.0 x 60= 240-156 = 84

The Service In Paygrade (SIPG) Points
Service in paygrade points are determined by multiplying your SIPG by 2, then adding 15.
Example: 7.5 x 2 = 15+15 = 30

The Awards Points
Personal awards range in value from 1 point for a "Letter of Commendation" to 10 points for the "Congressional Medal of Honor." On average, most awards carry a value of 2 to 3 points each. You can earn up to 10 points through personal awards.

The Passed Not Advanced (PNA) Points
The Navy will give you credit for each each time you pass the Navywide Exam but are not advanced. You can receive up to 30 points for Pass Not Advanced points.

The Final Selection Process
Once your FMS has been determined, you will be notified of your placement on the advancement list for your rating, and be ranked according to your FMS. The Navy will determine the cutoff point for the next advancement cycle. The Navy will then release a monthly message stating which candidates will be advanced on the first day of the following month for the current advancement cycle.

Advancement Cycles and Notification Dates
Candidates for Paygrade Exam or Nomination
Date
Selection Board Convenes Selectees Notified of FMS Advancement Increments/Segments
E-4/5/6 MAR
SEP
N/A JUN
DEC
JUL-DEC
JAN-JUN
E-7 JAN JUN AUG SEP-AUG
Note: E-4/5/6 exams are twice a year; E-7 exams are held once a year.


Petty Officer Third Class (E-4)

Navy Petty Officer Third Class insigniaThe Petty Officer Third Class's Role and Responsibilities
Promotion to Petty Officer Third Class (PO3) is not simply a raise in pay. It is a shift in roles, from one who has been led, to one who must now lead. It is an assumption of higher responsibility, authority, and accountability. As a Petty Officer you will not only be responsible for your subordinates, you will also be responsible to your subordinates. This means that you will be responsible for your subordinates':

  • Well-being
  • Work performance
  • Professional development
  • Morale
  • Education and training
  • Maintaining standards of behavior
When you become a Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, the expectations of your performance will be higher than you've experienced before.

Moving up in Rate: Unlike advancement to E-2 and E-3, advancement to Petty Officer is based on both your basic eligibility requirements and a Navywide competition. Your basic eligibility for advancement to PO3 is based on the following factors, as well as your performance in the Navywide Advancement-in-Rate Competition (see above for more information):

  • Your CO's recommendation
  • 2 years time-in-service (TIS)
  • Six months time-in-rate (TIR)
  • Completion of your Rating Particular Qualifications and Nonresident Courses

Petty Officer Second Class (E-5)

Navy Petty Officer Second Class insigniaPromotion to Petty Officer Second Class (PO2) is not simply a raise in pay. It means increased expectations in both technical expertise and leadership abilities. As a Petty Officer 2nd Class your level of authority will not change, but you will be expected to manage more resources and larger work groups or watch sections. In addition as a Petty Officer you will be responsible for and to your subordinates. This means that you will be responsible for your subordinates':

  • Well-being
  • Work performance
  • Professional development
  • Morale
  • Education and training
  • Maintaining standards of behavior

Moving up in Rate: Advancement to Petty Officer is based on both your basic eligibility requirements and a Navywide competition (see above for Navywide Advancement-in-Rate Competition information).

Basic Eligibility

Your basic eligibility for advancement to PO2 is based on the following:

  • Your CO's recommendation
  • 3 years time-in-service (TIS)
  • 12 months time-in-rate (TIR)
  • Completion of your Rating Particular Qualifications and Nonresident Courses

Petty Officer First Class (E-6)

Navy Petty Officer First Class insigniaPetty Officer First Class (PO1) is commonly referred as the point where the "rubber meets the road"; it marks a transition from Junior to Senior Petty Officer. Your promotion to 1st class also means increased expectations in both your technical expertise and leadership abilities, and a time for you to prepare for the next big step in your career, Chief Petty Officer.As a Petty Officer 1st Class, you may be expected to step up and take charge, to manage a much larger number of resources including expensive technical equipment, repair shop personnel, and large duty sections.

In addition, as a Petty Officer, you will be responsible both for and to your subordinates. This means that you will be responsible for your subordinates':

  • Well-being
  • Work performance
  • Professional development
  • Morale
  • Education and training
  • Maintaining standards of behavior

Moving up the Ranks:Your basic eligibility for advancement to PO1 is based on the following requirements and a Navywide competition (see above for Navywide Advancement-in-Rate Competition information):

  • Your CO's recommendation
  • 7 years time-in-service (TIS)
  • 36 Months time-in-rate (TIR)
  • Completion of your Rating Particular Qualifications and Nonresident Courses
  • Completion of the Navy Leadership Training Continuum (LTC)

Chief Petty Officers (E-7 through E-9)

The following excerpt from the Navy Chief Petty Officer's Creed best captures what it means to advance to Chief Petty Officer (CPO) in the U.S. Navy.

"In the United States Navy -- and only in the United States Navy -- the rank of E7 carries with it unique responsibilities and privileges you are now bound to observe and expected to fulfill. Your entire way of life is now changed. More will be expected of you; more will be demanded of you. Not because you are a E7 but because you are now a Chief Petty Officer. You have not merely been promoted one pay grade, you have joined an exclusive fellowship and, as in all fellowships, you have a special responsibility to your comrades, even as they have a special responsibility to you. This is why we in the United States Navy may maintain with pride our feelings of accomplishment once we have attained the position of Chief Petty Officer."

Chief Petty Officer (E-7)

Navy Chief Petty Officer insignia The Master Chief of The Navy (MCPON) states that Chief Petty Officers are responsible for, have the authority to accomplish and are held accountable for leading Sailors and applying their skills to tasks that enable mission accomplishment for the U.S. Navy; developing enlisted and junior officer Sailors; communicating the core values, standards and information of our Navy that empower Sailors to be successful in all they attempt; and supporting with loyalty the endeavors of the chain of command they serve and their fellow Chief Petty Officers with whom they serve

Moving up in Rate: Unlike advancement to E-4 through E-6, the Chief Petty Officer advancement process is based on three factors: your basic eligibility requirements, Navywide Final Multiple Score (FMS) and the Chief Petty Officer Promotions Board.

Basic Eligibility
Your basic eligibility for advancement to CPO is based on the following:

  • Your CO's recommendation
  • 11 years time-in-service (TIS)
  • 36 Months time-in-rate (TIR)
  • Completion of your Rating Particular Qualifications and Nonresident Courses
  • Completion of the Navy Leadership Training Continuum (LTC) Chief Indoctrination Course
Navywide Competition
Once you have met the Basic Eligibility requirements for advancement, you will be eligible to participate in the Navywide Advancement-in-Rate Competition (see above for more details).

Senior Chief Petty Officer (E-8)

navy senior Chief insigniaSenior Chief Petty Officers (SCPO) are the senior technical supervisors within a rating or an occupational field. SCPOs have the primary responsibility for supervising and training enlisted personnel oriented to system and subsystem maintenance, repair, and operation, rather than individual unit work. Based on wide-ranging experience and specialized training, SCPOs provide the command with a higher level of technical and managerial expertise than is expected at the Chief Petty Officer level.

Moving up in Rate:Unlike advancement to Chief Petty Officer, the Senior Chief advancement process is based solely on the basic eligibility requirements and the Senior Chief Petty Officer Selection Board.

Basic Eligibility
Your basic eligibility for advancement to SCPO is based on the following:

  • Your CO's recommendation
  • 16 years time-in-service (TIS)
  • 36 Months time-in-rate (TIR)
  • Completion of the Navy CPO Leadership Training Continuum (LTC)
The Senior Chief Petty Officer Selection Board
If you have met the basic eligibility requirements and are recommended, you will be sent to the Senior Chief Petty Officer Selection Board. The Selection Board is charged with considering all eligible candidates for advancement to SCPO.

The Senior Chief Selection Board makes its determination based on the following factors:

  • Professional Performance at Sea
  • Education
  • Evaluations
  • Physical Standards

    SCPO Advancement Cycles and Notification Dates
    Candidates for Paygrade Exam or Nomination
    Date
    Selection Board Convenes Selection Board Results Advancement Increments/Segments
    SCPO/MCPO NOV MARCH JUNE JUL-JUNE


    Master Chief Petty Officer (E-9)

    Navy Master Chief insigniaMaster Chief Petty Officers are the senior enlisted petty officers in the Unites States Navy. As such, MCPOs are vested with special command trust and confidence, extending to administrative and managerial functions involving enlisted personnel. Based upon your experience, proven performance, and technical knowledge necessary for advancement to the grade of MCPO, you will hold a senior enlisted position within your command. You will help to form and execute policy within your occupational field or across the full Navy spectrum. If you are selected to hold the position of Command Master Chief, you will serve as the senior enlisted adviser in setting command policies about the morale, use, and training of all enlisted personnel. As such, you will have direct access to the commanding officer. Additionally, as the command master chief you will be responsible for carrying out established command policy in specific areas as directed by the commanding officer and the executive officer. As the command master chief you will take precedence over all enlisted members within your command.

    Moving up in Rate: Unlike advancement to Chief Petty Officer, the Master Chief advancement process is based solely on the basic eligibility requirements and the Master Chief Petty Officer Selection Board.

    Basic Eligibility
    Your basic eligibility for advancement to MCPO is based on the following:

    • Your CO's recommendation
    • 19 years time-in-service (TIS)
    • 36 Months time-in-rate (TIR)
    If you have met the basic eligibility requirements and are recommended, you will be sent to the Master Chief Petty Officer Selection Board (see above). The Selection Board is charged with considering all eligible candidates for advancement to MCPO.

    Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy

    Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy insigniaThe Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) is the most senior enlisted member of the U.S. Navy, equivalent to the Sergeant Major of the Army, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, and Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is appointed by the Chief of Naval Operations to serve as a spokesman to address the issues of enlisted personnel to the highest positions in the Navy. As such, he is the senior enlisted advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations as well as the Chief of Naval Personnel. The duties of this position vary depending on the CNO, and the personnel code is N00A as the senior enlisted advisor to Chief of Naval Operations and PERS-00D in a special advisory capacity to Chief of Naval Personnel/Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Manpower, Personnel and Training).

    Read more about the current master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy.

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