As a navy neurosurgeon, I think I can help you with this one. There are a few factors that go into determining your income as a naval officer and some parts are tax exempt. A very accurate resource can be found at https://militarybenefits.info/military-pay-calculator/. Using this you can calculate base pay (taxable), housing allowance(tax free), and subsistence allowance(tax free). These depend on rank, time in service, dependents (spouse, children), and zip code where you live. This calculator does not include hazardous duty pays (less common for doctors), combat pay (when deployed, tax free), incentive pays (post Residency these vary by specialty and are meant to close gap between civilian and military pay); board certification pay; and any retention pays.
For example, a LCDR fresh out of Neurosurgery residency at Walter reed with 7 years of service and without spouse or children would annually make (Navy, O4, over 6yrs, 20889, no dependents):
Base pay: $76809 (taxable); Housing/BAH: $31716 (tax exempt); Subsistence/BAS: $3053 for $111578 per year. Now they’d also be eligible for Neurosurgery incentive pay of $59000 (taxable) per year for a total of $170578 of which $135809 is taxable.
This does not include the value of benefits (dental and medical care are free; family is effectively free; they match up to 5% of base pay contributions to retirement fund) and other unofficial financial incentives. On the other hand the average civilian neurosurgeon is starting out between $450-650k/yr so even after a $250k debt load you’re well below market value after year one. This is why the most important thing to consider is whether you want to be in the military regardless of the finances. The pay shortfall is annoying sometimes but being a military officer is an invaluable experience that I grew up wanting to do. Can’t put a price on that.
Another option is through Reserves but I don’t know the details as well so I’ll leave that to someone else
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