How much will I earn if I join the Commissioned Corps?
Total compensation varies depending on factors such as education, training, profession, work experience, and geographic location of assignment. While it is difficult to compare your take-home pay with someone in the private sector, your base pay, coupled with a generous assortment of nontaxable income and benefits, provides a very competitive compensation package that grows with years of service and promotions.
Please use the USPHS Pay Calculator and the pay table examples available in the Best Kept Secrets located under each profession to best estimate total compensation as a Commissioned Corps officer. Note that the USPHS Pay Calculator requires you to include your estimated grade/rank within the Commissioned Corps. Rank is determined by training and education and your professional experience. This is determined when a complete application packet for commissioning is submitted and evaluated.
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Am I eligible to receive the same benefits that military members receive?
For the most part, active duty Commissioned Corps officers enjoy the same benefits as their counterparts in their sister uniformed services. Refer to the following question, or visit the Salary and Benefits page under Careers & Benefits for a detailed list of benefits for each profession.
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What benefits would I receive as a Commissioned Corps officer?
The Commissioned Corps understands the financial burden of professional schooling and, in coordination with certain Federal agencies, may offer loan repayment and other educational and family support programs.
Officers in the Commissioned Corps have opportunities for mobility among government agencies and career advancement in diverse work settings. The Corps encourages you to expand your knowledge base and grow professionally so that you can effectively deal with the challenges of improving public health.
In addition, as a Commissioned Corps officer you may have access to the educational benefits provided in the Post-9/11 GI Bill if you have not used the bill previously. After 90 days of active duty service, you are eligible to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill. For more information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, visit the Veterans Affairs Web site.
Health Care Benefits
As a Commissioned officer, you and your family are automatically covered by a comprehensive health care plan called TRICARE that provides medical and dental care for little co-pay or no cost. This becomes active on your first day of service. Visit TRICARE Benefits At-a-Glance to view the nine different health plan options offered through TRICARE. Your health care benefits include:
- Health care and dental care at no cost
- Low-cost health care and dental care for your family
- Health care benefits continue during retirement for you and your spouse
Long-Term Care and Disability Insurance
Commissioned Corps officers are eligible for:
- Low-cost life insurance
- TRICARE For Life – TRICARE’s Medicare-wraparound coverage available to all Medicare-eligible TRICARE beneficiaries upon retirement from the Corps
- Veterans Affairs benefits, such as survivor and disability benefits, home loans, and burial allowances
Work/life balance is an important component of serving in the Commissioned Corps. Officers receive:
- Thirty days of paid vacation per year – beginning the first year
- Paid sick leave
- Paid maternity leave
- Paid Federal holidays (depending on position)
- Tax-free housing (Basic Allowance for Housing) and meal allowances (Basic Allowance for subsistence)
- If you are a resident of a state that does not impose income tax (Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming) at the time of your call to active duty, you will not be subject to the state income tax where you are stationed. If you are assigned to active duty in one of these states, you can establish residency in that state for the rest of your uniform service career.
- A retirement plan (determined by an average of 50 percent of your three highest years of base pay) with benefits eligibility beginning after 20 years of service. Each additional year of service garners 2.5 percent.
- Thrift Savings Plan [retirement savings and investment plan similar to a 401(k)]
Paid relocation when you join the Corps and relocation expenses when relocating between positions afforded by the Joint Federal Travel Regulations (JFTR)
- Financial support for education through the Post-9/11 GI Bill
- Relocation expenses to your home of record (or a shorter distance) upon retirement or separation
- Paid expenses for travel related to your job
- Access to military base lodging and recreational facilities (e.g., MWR Navy or MWR Army)
- Shopping privileges at military base grocery and department stores (e.g., AAFES and NEX)
- Space Available flights for you and your family
- Access to exclusive insurance and banking products targeting the needs of active duty officers
- VA Loan Guaranty Home Loan Program
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Are bonuses/extra pay offered for agreeing to work in the Commissioned Corps for a specified amount of time?
Qualified officers in certain clinical disciplines (i.e., physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists) are eligible for monthly special pays based on specialty and/or if they execute a contract to remain on active duty for a designated period of time. In addition, accession bonuses are available for qualified dentists, pharmacists, and nurses. For further information, visit the Careers & Benefits page and choose the appropriate profession.
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