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Career Information Frequently Asked Questions


What is the pay?


Basic Pay

After completion of recruit training and upon arrival at the United States Navy Band, members are advanced to the rank of musician first class (E-6 pay grade) and earn $2,612.70 per month in basic military pay. Pay may increase with subsequent advancements and annual pay-raises to reflect the increase in cost of living.

In addition to basic pay, the Navy offers non-taxable housing and food allowances to help cover living expenses.  

Basic Allowance for Housing

For members who live off base, an allowance is provided to defray the cost of housing in the Washington, D.C., area. This allowance is based on rank and whether or not you are providing support for dependents (spouse and/or children living with the member). The current basic allowance for housing for E-6 members stationed in Washington, D.C., is $2,595 for members with dependents (spouse or children), and $2,190 for members without dependents.


Basic Allowance for Subsistence

The U.S. Navy provides a food allowance of up to $369.39 per month.

Total Pay

With basic pay and the housing and food allowance, a musician first class with dependents and living off-base will earn $66,925 annually, of which $35,573 is tax-free. A musician first class without dependents and living off base will earn $62,065 annually, of which $30,713 is tax-free.


Temporary Duty (TDY) Expenses

When traveling for job-related reasons away from your home base, members receive additional tax-free money to cover meals, lodging, and other incidental expenses.


Uniform Allowance

Members receive an annual tax-free clothing allowance to replace uniform items.

Are there any incentives for enlisting in the Navy?

There are typically two types of enlistment incentives: enlistment bonuses and student loan repayment. Enlistment bonuses are offered for personnel enlisting in certain job fields in the Navy. The student loan repayment program (SLRP) provides for the payment of the principal balance of federal students loans in good standing. Only certain job fields are eligible for these incentives and the approved list changes periodically. At the present time, musicians may be eligible for an enlistment bonus, up to $10,000 and the SLRP, up to $65,000 though the incentives are not guaranteed. Check with your local recruiter for a current eligibility list.

Are health care and life insurance available?

All members of the U.S. Armed Forces are automatically enrolled in TRICARE - the Department of Defense's health care program for active-duty personnel, retirees, and their families. Through TRICARE, members receive FREE, comprehensive medical and dental care as needed at one of the Washington, D.C., area military treatment facilities or civilian TRICARE providers. Family members may also be enrolled in TRICARE and receive medical care at military or civilian facilities through various options for little or no cost. Inexpensive dental care programs may be purchased for family members. U.S. Navy members may participate in the Service Members' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program at very reasonable rates. For example, for only $29 per month, members may purchase life insurance coverage of $400,000.

Is there a pension or retirement program?

Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, the military rolled out a new retirement package. Called the “Blended Retirement System,” this new package offers matching government contributions into an individual 401k account (called the Thrift Savings Plan, or TSP), a cash payment for continuing service and a pension (available upon completion of at least 20 years). Members who reach 20 years of service will receive 40 percent of their basic pay in retirement compensation. This amount increases each year by two percent, and after 30 years of service, members will receive 60 percent of their basic pay in retirement compensation. Retirement income is also adjusted each year to compensate for increases in the cost of living. Please note that in order to serve more than 22 years, advancements to higher ranks are required. For more information about the blended retirement system, please visit https://militarypay.defense.gov/BlendedRetirement/.

What about vacation time and sick leave?

Active-duty members of the U.S. Navy earn 30 days of leave (vacation) each year. Members of performing ensembles usually take their leave at the same time during a designated "blanket leave" period. Requests for leave outside of the blanket leave period are considered on a case-by-case basis and may be approved depending on the performance/rehearsal schedule and mission needs of each ensemble. Special consideration is given to emergency situations and significant family events. Members are not charged leave for sick days, and with doctor authorization members receive as many days as necessary to return to full health.

Are funds available for continuing education?

The U.S. Navy offers partial tuition reimbursement for those working on an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree. There are many excellent schools in the Washington, D.C., area.

Most members are eligible to participate in the Veterans Administration's GI Bill program. For more information about the GI bill, go to www.gibill.va.gov.

Can I shop at the base commissary and exchange?

Members and their families are permitted to shop at military commissaries (grocery stores), base exchanges (department stores) and service stations. These facilities offer tax-free shopping and a savings of about 30% over similar off-base stores.

What other benefits are there for my family?

Twelve military family support centers in the greater Washington area provide job-search, volunteer and educational assistance to military family members. Some of the services provided are career counseling, interview techniques training, assistance with resume preparation and access to job banks and Department of Defense job listings. Free informational assistance for house hunting and understanding the local real estate market is also available for military families.

The legal services office on the U.S. Navy Yard offers free legal assistance to members and their families including preparation of wills and powers of attorney, review of legal documents such as lease agreements and notary service.


U.S. Navy Band Audition Supervisor
617 Warrington Ave., SE
Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5054
202-433-2840, 202-433-4108 (fax)


Do I need a college degree?

Although most members of the U.S. Navy Band have earned undergraduate degrees, a college degree is not required to become a member. Candidates are offered positions solely on the basis of successful auditions and interviews.

Are there physical requirements?

To be considered for a position with the U.S. Navy Band, candidates must not have medical conditions that would prevent them from enlisting in the United States Navy. Candidates must also be between the ages of 18 and 39.

Members of the U.S. Navy must maintain high standards of personal appearance, adherence to height/weight requirements and physical fitness. All Sailors are required to pass annual physical fitness evaluations and are subject to random drug urinalysis testing at any time. Accordingly, applicants must conform to weight and appearance requirements prior to enlistment. Questions about this requirement should be referred to a Navy recruiter.

Can I join the Navy Band if I have a tattoo?

The U.S. Navy Band is a presidential support unit that performs in highly visible events of national and international significance. Accordingly, Navy Band members may not have tattoos that are visible in short sleeves or skirts.

Prohibited tattoo areas include:

  1. The neck, head and face.
  2. Fingers, hands, wrists, forearms, and up to two inches above the inside of the elbow.
  3. The top of the feet, ankles, knees, and legs up to immediately above the knee (for women).
Any tattoos, regardless of location, must not bring discredit upon the naval service.

If you have any questions with regard to this policy or feel it may disqualify you from taking an audition, please contact the Navy Band at navyband.auditions@navy.mil.

Will I need a security clearance?

You do not need to have a security clearance in order to audition. If advanced through the final performing round of the audition, you will be asked a series of questions in order to determine if any barriers exist that might prevent you from obtaining a security clearance. Members of the United States Navy Band must obtain a security clearance and be selected for participation in a special Presidential Support program. Due to the length and scope of the security clearance process, it is initiated in Recruit Training or as soon as a new member arrives at the Band. An extensive background investigation is necessary to be granted the clearance.



Joining the Navy

Where do I start?

When you accept a position with the United States Navy Band, you will be given an application for the Navy Music Program, allowing you to begin the enlistment process and join the U.S. Navy. Your local recruiter will guide you through each step of the enlistment process. You must take and pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (a skills assessment test) and a complete a physical exam. The enlistment process is completed at your local Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) where you will sign an enlistment contract. After enlisting, you will go directly to Great Lakes, Ill. to complete Recruit Training.

What is Basic Training like and how long is it?

Recruit Training is an eight week course at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill. While attending recruit training, you'll learn standard military drill and ceremonies, U.S. Navy history, customs and courtesies, and will participate in daily physical fitness exercises. Musicians, who are usually well educated and self-disciplined, tend to do well during recruit training.

After Recruit Training, what happens?

When you graduate from Recruit Training, you will be immediately assigned to the United States Navy Band. You will be given a specific number of travel days to move from your home of record to the Washington, D.C. area.

The Navy will move your household goods up to 11,000 pounds if you have dependents and 8,000 pounds if you do not have dependents. If necessary, the Navy will store your household goods until you find permanent housing. If you decide to move yourself, you will be reimbursed for some of the moving and storage expenses.

Where can I find information about joining the Navy?

The U.S. Navy has a comprehensive website, www.navy.mil, that provides a great deal of information about joining the U.S. Navy. Additionally, your local Navy recruiter will be able to answer most of your questions about the benefits of joining the Navy. To find your local recruiter, visit www.navy.com/findarecruiter/.





Professional Life


Where does the Band perform?

The Band performs in all types of settings, from the finest concert halls to other venues such as school or civic auditoriums, outdoor festivals, parades, gymnasiums and field houses. Occasionally, units of the Band represent the United States in performances around the world.

Through our concert series, the U.S. Navy Band entertains audiences of all ages in the Washington, D.C. region. On community relations tours throughout the country, the Navy Band performs in major metropolitan regions as well as small communities.

The Navy Band is in great demand to perform at educational conferences such as the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic and the American Choral Directors Association National Clinic.

Based on the Washington Navy Yard, the Band performs for official military functions and ceremonies.

Small chamber ensembles and instrumental/vocal groups perform in venues ranging from the White House Visitor Center to the homes of senior government and military leaders who are hosting their counterparts from around the nation and the world.

The Ceremonial Band performs regularly at Arlington National Cemetery and at patriotic ceremonies in the nation's capital.

All brass, woodwind and percussion players are required to perform ceremonies for various functions at the White House, Pentagon, and for special events such as the Presidential Inaugural and other high-visibility parades.

Are there other performance opportunities?

If you wish, you may participate as a civilian in the D.C. area's active and vibrant performing arts community or give private lessons to music students. However, if a scheduling conflict should arise, your Navy Band commitments must be met first.

Are instruments and equipment provided?

The Navy Band will supply you with professional-caliber musical instruments as well as the musical supplies you need to accomplish your musical duties. Navy Band equipment may not be used in activities unrelated to your official duties (freelancing, teaching, etc.).

What will my duty schedule be like?

Each unit of the Navy Band is unique in its scheduling and has different rehearsal/performance requirements that change on a weekly basis according to the mission. Band units frequently perform on evenings and weekends, and compensatory days off are often given on weekdays. For example, if a performance tour goes over a weekend, days off may be scheduled on weekdays following the return. A typical non-performance day consists of rehearsals and administrative duties.

As military bands are a traditional part of American patriotic celebrations, you should expect to work on major holidays such as Veteran's Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day.

Will I have any non-musical duties?

As part of a self-contained organization, Navy Band members must perform a variety of non-musical duties to ensure efficient daily operations. These duties may range from performing simple clerical work to coordinating and managing the activities of an entire unit.

Most new members of the Band are assigned to stage crew and will assist with the transporting, setting up and tearing down of the equipment for performances. In addition to stage crew, members may volunteer to work in one of the following areas:

Public Affairs (publicity and web site development and maintenance)
Tour Operations (coordinating group tours and performances)
Career Development (career counseling, training, auditions)
Equipment Supply (procurement and inventory)
Information Systems (application development, network administration, software/hardware maintenance)
Vehicles (coordinating/maintaining band vehicles)

Will I ever be assigned to another band or career field?

An assignment to the U.S. Navy Band is a permanent duty assignment. This means you will remain a member of the Band for your entire enlistment (as long as you retain your skill level and as long as the Commanding Officer permits). However, members may request a transfer to another U.S. Navy band or retrain into a different career field. These requests are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Is the U.S. Navy Band a full-time job?

Working as a musician in the United States Navy Band is a full-time profession, not a side activity. You will be an active duty member of the United States Navy. In wartime or peacetime, your primary duty is to perform as a musician.