Enlisted pay grades, E1 to E9, correspond to the ranks of Private in the Army and Marine Corps, Seaman Recruit in the Navy, and Airman Basic in the Air Force through Sergeant Major in the Army and Marine Corps, Master Chief Petty Officer in the Navy, and Chief Master Sergeant in the Air Force. Enlisted personnel in grades E1 and E2 are trainees. Members in pay grades E3 and E4 are at the apprentice level, working under journeymen, who are at pay grades E5 and E6. Supervisor positions are at pay grades E7 through E9. Soldiers, marines, and airmen at pay grades E5 and above and some at E4 are noncommissioned officers (NCOs), with demonstrated ability in the job and as a leader. In the Navy, those at pay grades E4 and above are petty officers, with leadership responsibilities. Servicemembers in NCO and petty officer positions are required to lead, supervise, and train entry-level enlisted personnel. They perform the work as well as direct the work of others.
More than half of the enlisted force is in pay grades E1 through E4 (53 percent). Grades E4 and E5 have the largest concentration of the enlisted force (21 and 20 percent, respectively). This distribution is necessary to provide a sufficient number of trained leaders to fill the higher ranks; not all personnel in the lower ranks reenlist and progress to the higher grades. There are slight variations among racial/ethnic groups (Table 3.10) as well as differences between male and female enlisted members (Table 3.11).A comparison of pay grade distributions by race/ethnicity shows differences in retention. Blacks traditionally have higher retention rates than other racial/ethnic groups, resulting in a larger percentage of Black enlisted members at pay grades E6 through E8. In contrast, Hispanic enlisted members are found more in lower grades (E1 through E4).
As shown in Table 3.11, 63 percent of enlisted women are in pay grades
E1 to E4, while only 52 percent of enlisted men are in these grades. The
primary reason for the difference by gender is lower retention rates among