All uniformed members of the armed forces, regardless of branch or specialty, earn a basic salary based on their rank and the number of years in service. Base pay is only part of the overall compensation picture, however. Mechanics are generally enlisted members or noncommissioned officers; commissioned officers and warrant officers generally work in supervisory capacities.
Active duty military members get paid twice per month, on or about the 1st and 15th day of each month. As of 2011, the lowest grade of enlisted service member with less than 4 months of service earns a base pay of $1,305 per month, though shelter, meals and health care are generally taken care of, as service members typically only earn this income while in training. After two years, an E-4 (such as a specialist in the Army) earns a base pay of $2,014. An E-6 (such as a staff sergeant in the Army) with six years in service earns $2,840 per month.
Combat Zone Exclusion
When an enlisted service member is deployed in a combat zone, the base pay earned is free of federal income tax. This is a significant boost to income. In recent years, many service members -- particularly in the Army and Marine Corps, have gone through multiple combat tours, which significantly increases take-home pay. Mechanics qualify for hostile fire pay and hazardous duty pay the same as infantry soldiers do.
In addition to base pay, service members who live outside of government housing receive a tax-free housing allowance. The exact amount depends on the service member's rank, duty station and marital status. High cost of living areas command higher housing allowances. Married service members and those with dependents receive more than single service members.
Each service also maintains a variety of incentive pays designed to retain qualified service members in the military and provide them with an incentive to undergo hardship or take on challenging assignments. Service members can qualify for extra pay for being on jump status, for serving on ships or in flight status. Additional pay may include family separation pay, career sea pay and submarine pay. As with combat zone pay, mechanics will qualify for each of these incentives the same as any other soldier, provided they meet the other criteria.
Leslie McClintock has been writing professionally since 2001. She has been published in "Wealth and Retirement Planner," "Senior Market Advisor," "The Annuity Selling Guide," and many other outlets. A licensed life and health insurance agent, McClintock holds a B.A. from the University of Southern California.