What Are the Benefits of Being An Army Nurse Compared to Pursuing A Civilian Nursing Career?

One of our top degree programs in the Eastern Washington University (EWU) ROTC battalion is nursing.  Due to the high number of nursing Cadets, the Fighting Eagle Battalion is one of the few ROTC units that commissions Army nurses.  While discussing an Army nursing career with prospective students a question that often comes up is what are the benefits or Army nursing compared to pursuing a civilian nursing career?

World War II Army Nurse Corps recruiting poster.

Being an Army nurse or a civilian nurse are both extremely rewarding career paths, but when comparing the benefits, being an Army nurse does have some major advantages.  Besides the financial support the ROTC program provides to nursing students, the Army also provides superior pay and benefits when compared to a civilian nursing career.  When Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is included an Army nurse generally has high starting pay.  You can research the BAH rate for different Army locations at this link.  The Army also provides a robust retirement package that features a fixed pension, a 401k like program, and lump sum options when servicemembers become full retirement eligible after 20 years of service.  See the below chart for a full comparison of Army and civilian nursing careers.

Army NurseCivilian Nurse
Starting Pay$61,255.08
-1/3rd non-taxable!
-Income fully taxed
Pay After 4 years$100,375.28
-1/3rd non-taxable!
$92,196.00 (average)
-Income fully taxed
RetirementEligible for pension of 40% of base pay at 20 years of service. Pension of ~$50,000 begins immediately upon retirement from military service (based on 2022 data). Government matching up to 5% of contributions from base pay into the Thrift Savings Plan (similar to 401k). Also eligible for Social Security at age 62.Social Security eligible at 62 or older. Possible hospital 401k plan, but cannot draw benefits until 55 or older and there isn't a guarantee of returns on investments.
Pay RaiseAutomatic annually until 4 years. Automatic every two years after. No negotiation or actions required.Determined by hospital
Paid Leave30 days per year14 days per year
Paid Sick LeaveUnlimitedLimited
Medical/DentalFreePossible discounted rate depending on hospital
Moving ExpensesFreeAt own expense
FacilitiesFree access to golf course, large gyms, shopping mall without sales tax, commissary (grocery store) with reduced prices, etc.Facilities paid at own expense
Life Insurance$400,000 term policy for $27 a monthAt own expense
Job SecurityKeep rank and seniority no matter where you moveSeniority could be lost if moving to another hospital
TravelOpportunity to be stationed around the US and internationallyLimited to the US

Something that can’t be quantified is the feeling of service to the United States and the high level of leadership training Army officers receive.  If Army nursing is something that interests you, please review our EWU ROTC nursing webpage for more information about our program.

Go Army Nursing! Go Fighting Eagles!

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