Military Wiki

Sergeant (normally abbreviated to Sgt) is a rank used in some form by most militaries, police forces, and other uniformed organizations around the world. Its origins are the Latin serviens, "one who serves", through the French term sergent.

In most armies the rank of sergeant is classified by NATO as OR-5 and corresponds to command of a squad (or section). In Commonwealth armies, it is a more senior rank OR-6, corresponding roughly to a platoon second-in-command. In the United States Army, sergeant is a more junior rank corresponding to a four-man fireteam leader (OR-4), while still equivalent to OR-5.

More senior non-commissioned ranks are often variations on sergeant, for instance staff sergeant, regimental sergeant major, sergeant first class, master sergeant, first sergeant and sergeant major. The spelling "serjeant" is used in a few regiments of the British Army.


In most non-naval military or paramilitary organizations, the various grades of sergeant are non-commissioned officers (NCOs) ranking above privates and corporals, and below warrant officers and commissioned officers. The responsibilities of a sergeant differ from army to army. There are usually several ranks of sergeant, each corresponding to greater experience and responsibility for the daily lives of the soldiers of larger units.

In medieval European usage, a sergeant was simply any attendant or officer with a protective duty. The etymology of the term is from Anglo-French sergant, serjant, from Latin servient, serviens, to serve.


Defence force[]

File:Australian Army Sergeant.svg

Army sergeant insignia

Sergeant (SGT) is a rank in both the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force. The ranks are equivalent to each other and the Royal Australian Navy rank of petty officer.

Although the rank insignia of the RAAF rank of flight sergeant (FSGT) and the Australian Army rank of staff sergeant (SSG) are identical, flight sergeant in fact outranks the rank of staff sergeant in the classification of rank equivalencies. The Australian Army rank of staff sergeant is now redundant and is no longer awarded, due to being outside the rank equivalencies and the next promotional rank is warrant officer class two. The ranks of chief petty officer, warrant officer class two and flight sergeant fall in-line with US E-8. Chief petty officers and flight sergeants should provide the courtesy of calling a warrant officer class two "sir", as the warrant class two holds the Queen's warrant.



Police sergeant insignia

The rank of sergeant exists in all Australian police forces and is more senior than a constable or senior constable, but less senior than an inspector.

There are generally two sergeant ranks which are classed as non-commissioned officers:

  • Sergeant (SGT) (three chevrons); and
  • Senior sergeant (SENSGT) (three chevrons, crown surmounted by a laurel leaf)

Some state police forces have slightly different variations of the sergeant structure.

  • New South Wales Police Force, for example, have the additional rank of incremental sergeant (SGT) (three chevrons and a crown). This is an incremental progression, following appointment as a sergeant for 7 years. An incremental sergeant rank is less senior than a senior sergeant but is more senior than a sergeant. Upon appointment as a sergeant or senior sergeant, the sergeant is given a warrant of appointment under the commissioner's hand and seal. In addition, the sergeant is given a navy blue backing (which replaces a light blue backing to the officer's police badge), a navy blue name plate (which replaces a light blue nameplate), and a silver chin strap positioned above his peaked cap on his headdress, replacing a black chinstrap.

Within the NSWPF, sergeant is a team leader or supervisory rank, whilst the rank of senior sergeant is a middle management rank with coordination responsibilities over human and physical resources.

  • South Australia Police have the additional rank of brevet sergeant (two chevrons below an inverted arrow head) which is an authorization for a temporarily higher rank. A brevet sergeant is less senior than a sergeant.

All three sergeant ranks are informally referred to as "sergeant", "boss", or "sarge". However at the New South Wales Police Academy, recruits must address all ranks of sergeants as "Sergeant", and senior sergeant as "Senior Sergeant".

Sergeants are usually team leaders in charge of an entire team of constables to senior constables at large stations, to being in charge of sectors involving several police stations. In country areas, sergeants are often in charge of an entire station and its constabulary. Senior sergeants are usually in specialist areas and are in charge of sergeants and thus act as middle management.




Sergeant (Sgt) (French or sgt) is an Army or Air Force non-commissioned officer rank of the Canadian Armed Forces. Its naval equivalent is petty officer 2nd class (French: maître de 2e classe). It is senior to the appointment of master corporal and its equivalent naval appointment, master seaman, and junior to warrant officer and its naval equivalent, petty officer 1st class. Sergeants and petty officers 2nd class together make up the lowest of four grades in the cadre of senior non-commissioned officers.

In army units, sergeants usually serve as section commanders; they may often be called to fill positions normally held by warrant officers, such as platoon or troop warrant, company quartermaster sergeant, chief clerk, etc.

The rank insignia of a sergeant is a three-bar chevron, worn point down, surmounted by a maple leaf. Embroidered rank badges are worn in "CF gold" thread on rifle green melton, stitched to the upper sleeves of the service dress jacket; as miniature gold metal and rifle-green enamel badges on the collars of the army dress shirt and army outerwear jackets; in "old-gold" thread on air force blue slip-ons on air force shirts, sweaters, and coats; and in tan thread on CADPAT slip-ons (army) or dark blue thread on olive-drab slip-ons (air force) on the operational dress uniform.

Colour sergeant in the Canadian Armed Forces is not a rank of sergeant, but a warrant officer in one of the two Foot Guards regiments (the Governor General's Foot Guards and the Canadian Grenadier Guards). Likewise, a sergeant-major (including regimental sergeant-major) is not a sergeant rank, but an appointment held by a master warrant officer or chief warrant officer.

Sergeants generally mess and billet with warrant officers, master warrant officers, and chief warrant officers, and their naval counterparts, chief petty officers and petty officers. Their mess on military bases or installations is generally named the warrant officers' and sergeants' mess.

Historically, the rank of sergeant was severely downgraded after unification of the three services in 1968. An army sergeant before unification was generally employed in supervisory positions, such as the second in command of a platoon sized unit (i.e. an infantry platoon sergeant, or troop sergeant in an armoured unit). After unification sergeants were downgraded in status to section commander, a job previously held by corporals, and the former "platoon/troop sergeant"s were replaced by "platoon/troop warrant officers."


Police forces across Canada also use the rank of sergeant and staff sergeant for senior non-commissioned officers above the rank of constable or corporal. Except in the province of Quebec and in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the insignia for a police sergeant is a three chevrons, worn point down. Staff sergeants rank above sergeants and are responsible for a unit or team within a station or division. The insignia for a staff sergeant is three chevrons, worn point down surmounted by a royal crown. In the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the insignia for a sergeant is three chevrons, worn point down surmounted by a royal crown (which is insignia of a staff sergeant in other Canadian police forces). The insignia of a staff sergeant in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is four chevrons worn point up.



The collar and sleeve insignia of kersantti

Kersantti is in Finnish Defence Forces the second and highest non-commissioned officer rank that a conscript can possibly reach before entering the reserve. The beginning and most common non-commissioned officer rank is alikersantti (lit. "lower sergeant"); see corporal.

Only a few non-commissioned officers in each conscript company reach the higher rank of full three-chevron kersantti. There's no difference between the 4-month squad leader training and service time of alikersantti and kersantti; all start their squad leader tour with the lower rank and the optional promotion is based on superior's assessment of individual performance and intended duties in the war-time organization; special roles such as that of platoon sergeant or company first sergeant are typically reserved for kersantti and upwards.

A corporal can also obtain the rank of sergeant (and possibly above, the next rank being four-chevron ylikersantti, which is comparable to staff sergeant) by taking some military refresher courses while in reserve, or by enlisting to (short-term) professional service in the military.



insignia with two chevrons
Career sergeant
insignia with three chevrons
Chief Sergeant
(top : Infantry, bottom : chasseurs alpins)

There are three sergeant ranks in France, although the most junior, contract sergeant, is rare now that conscription has been suspended. In general the term sergeant is used for both contract sergeant and career sergeant. Contract sergeant is classified as the lowest NCO[1] rank, the rank below being chief corporal.

  • Contract sergeant (sergent sous contrat): One chevron, gold or silver.[2]
    A rank used for junior sergeants, either conscripts or reservists. Junior to commonwealth sergeant but senior to commonwealth corporal. The rank insignia is used nowadays for NCOs-in-training.
  • Career sergeant (Sergent de carrière): Two chevrons.
    Normal sergeant rank, though normally directly recruited from civilian life into this rank, so the rank implies less experience than for a commonwealth sergeant. Normally simply referred to as sergeant, dropping the "de carrière". With long service, promotion to chief sergeant is automatic. Equivalent to a US sergeant. Roughly equivalent to, but slightly junior to, a commonwealth sergeant.
  • Chief sergeant (sergent-chef): Three chevrons.
    With long service, a sergeant's promotion to chief sergeant is automatic. This rank corresponds exactly to a US staff sergeant. There is no commonwealth equivalent, this rank lying between commonwealth staff sergeant and commonwealth sergeant. The rank may be said to be roughly equivalent to, but perhaps slightly superior to, a commonwealth sergeant. The next rank up is adjutant.

French sergeant ranks are used by the entire air force, by the engineers, the infantry, the Foreign Legion, the Troupes de marine, the communications, the administration, all part of the French Army, and the Gendarmerie mobile, part of the Gendarmerie Nationale. Other corps in the army and the gendarmerie use three equivalent ranks of maréchal des logis ("marshal of lodgings" in English) instead.



German sergeant (Unteroffizier) shoulder board

In modern-day usage within the German Bundeswehr the rank of sergeant is known as Unteroffizier, historically it was the German army rank of a corporal.[3] The rank has existed since the 18th century, with usage as a title dating back to the Middle Age. The ranks of the Unteroffiziere (NCOs) are divided into two categories, the Unteroffiziere ohne Portepee making up the cadre of junior non-commissioned officers and the Unteroffiziere mit Portepee making up the cadre of senior non-commissioned officers. The duties of a sergeant Unteroffizier can vary greatly with its rank: In a typical Bundeswehr company, the Unteroffizier ohne Portepee (OR-5) are only leading one Zugtrupp (squad) whereas the position of Zugführer (platoon leader) are held by a higher ranked NCOs (typically Hauptfeldwebel OR-7) with according training. The platoon's "second in command", is usually held by a "Feldwebel / Oberfeldwebel" (OR-6).

The German Army rank order is: Unteroffizier OR-5, Fahnenjunker OR-5, Stabsunteroffizier OR-5, Feldwebel OR-6, Fähnrich OR-6, Oberfeldwebel OR-6, Hauptfeldwebel OR-7, Oberfähnrich OR-7, Stabsfeldwebel OR-8 and Oberstabsfeldwebel OR-9.


German Navy sergeant (Maat) shoulder board

Maat is a naval rank of the German navy equivalent to the army rank of Unteroffizier. A Maat is considered the equivalent of a junior petty officer in the navies of many other nations.

The term is derived from the low German māt (comrade). Via the Dutch language, the word became a nautical term and described the assistant to a deck officer. Since the second half of the 17th century Maate were the lowest class of non-commissioned officers aboard a warship.

The German Navy rank order is: Maat OR-5, Seekadett OR-5, Obermaat OR-5, Bootsmann OR-6, Fähnrich OR-6, Oberbootsmann OR-6, Hauptbootsmann OR-7, Oberfähnrich OR-7, Stabsbootsmann OR-8 and Oberstabsbootsmann OR-9.

Hong Kong[]

Army and air force[]

During British rule, the rank of sergeant was held by members of the RAF (flight sergeant or sergeant (air crew)) or British Army serving in Hong Kong.

The rank was held by local enlisted men with the Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers) and Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers) Regimental Police.


Hong Kong Police Force sergeants are in charge of a section or commander of a vehicle on patrol. Their ranks is symbolized by three chevrons and worn on their arm and/or lapel. The rank is also used by the Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Force (station sergeant (auxiliary) and sergeant (auxiliary)). There also sergeants in the Hong Kong Police Force Pipe Band, who carry their rank from their regular policing duties.


Two other non-military organizations use the ranks of sergeant:

India and Pakistan[]


Police Head Constable

Insignia of an Indian Police of a Head Constable

In many metropolitan police forces in both India and Pakistan, a sergeant (called armed sub-inspectors in some states) is equivalent to a police sub-inspector. They are subordinate to police inspectors in rank but are senior to assistant sub-inspectors, head constables, naiks (corporals) and police constables in Indian police forces. In British-India days, the practice began of transferring British Army NCOs to Indian constabularies to teach them foot and rifle drill and weapons handling (called "musketry") and to maintain disciplinary standards. This is the historical origin of the rank of sergeant in the forces of today’s Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata (their equivalents in state forces are called armed sub-inspectors). Sergeants have always served in the non-investigative branches of the 'protective police' [e.g. armed and mounted branches; port, river and traffic police, reserve forces, etc.] and one per police station. Their use is focused more upon security and public order situations than investigating routine domestic, commercial and street crime which is the purview of the investigative branches of the 'detective police' where their counterparts are called sub-inspectors. Head constables (not to be confused with sergeants) wear three chevrons (rank insignia) point-down on their sleeve or three bars on their epaulettes.


In the British Indian Army, the equivalent rank to sergeant was daffadar in cavalry regiments and havildar in other units. These ranks are still used in the armies of India and Pakistan.

Air Force[]

In the Indian Air Force and the Pakistan Air Force, the rank of sergeant is above a corporal and below of junior warrant officer. The rank insignia is a three pointed-down chevron. The rank of flight sergeant is now obsolete with the responsibilities given to junior warrant officers.

The rank of sergeant is a senior non-commissioned officer


In the Indian Navy and the Pakistan Navy, the rank of petty officer is roughly equivalent to sergeant.



Irish Army sergeant's rank slider

Sergeant (Sgt) (sáirsint in Irish) is the second rank of non-commissioned officer within the Irish Army. The Naval equivalent is petty officer.

The army rank insignia consists of three winged chevrons (or "stripes"). The service dress insignia consists of three wavy red chevrons 9 cm wide bordered in yellow. The main infantry role of a sergeant is as second-in-command of a platoon or commander of a fire support section of a weapons platoon, such as an anti-tank or mortar platoon. Another role is that of company clerk and instructor. There are higher ranks of company sergeant and company quartermaster sergeant. Artillery sergeants are usually assigned as detachment and section commanders, as well as in administrative roles. The difference in roles of sergeant and corporal in the artillery corps is not as clearly defined as in the infantry corps.

Sergeant is also the second rank of non-commissioned officer in the Irish Air Corps. Before 1994, the Air Corps was considered part of the army and wore army uniforms with distinct corps badges, but the same rank insignia. With the introduction of a unique Air Corps blue uniform in 1994, the same rank markings in a white colour were worn, before the introduction of a new three-chevron with wing rank marking. There are higher ranks of flight sergeant and flight quartermaster sergeant.


Sergeant is the second rank in the Garda Síochána.


Defense forces[]

For further information, see Israel Defense Forces ranks.
IDF Rank: סמל Samal

In the Israel Defense Forces, soldiers are promoted from corporal to sergeant (Samál, originally the Hebrew abbreviation for non-commissioned officer) after approximately 18 months of service, if they performed their duties appropriately during this time, and did not have disciplinary problems. Soldiers who take a commander's course may become sergeants earlier. Sergeants get a symbolic pay raise of 1.80 NIS.

Israel Defense Forces ranks : נגדים חוגרים hogrim - enlisted
רב טוראי
Rav turai
סמל ראשון
Samal rishon
NATO  OR-2 OR-3 OR-4
Abbreviation טוראי
Private Corporal Sergeant Staff sergeant
Insignia IDF Ranks Private First Class IDF Ranks Rav turai IDF Ranks Samal IDF Ranks Samar
More details at Israel Defense Forces ranks & IDF 2012 - Ranks (, English)



In the Italian Army the rank of sergente, ("sergeant"), is the first rank of the warrant officers sergeant role, equivalent to NATO OR-5 grade. The two next senior ranks are sergente maggiore (literally "major sergeant") and sergente maggiore capo (literally "chief major sergeant"). For paratroopers, the ranks of sergente and sergente maggiore are bordered in blue.



In the Mexican Army the cabo (corporal) is junior to sargento segundo (second sergeant) and sargento primero (first sergeant).

New Zealand[]

Only the Royal New Zealand Air Force and New Zealand Army use sergeant as a rank, identifiable by the three chevrons. The Royal New Zealand Navy has the equivalent rank of petty officer. Promotion to sergeant in the New Zealand Defence Force is usually around nine to ten years service and commands considerable responsibility and an increase in pay.



The ranks of enlisted personnel in Filipino are just the same as their U.S. counterparts but, they never use "specialist", "sergeant first class", "first sergeant" (for Philippine Army and Philippine Air Force except the Philippine Marine Corps), "lance corporal", "gunnery sergeant", "master gunnery sergeant" in the Philippine Army and Marine Corps. They simply start to address their ranks from private second class up to sergeant major. Sergeant majors in the AFP are only appointments rather than ranks.

Air Force[]

In the Philippine Air Force, the rank of sergeant is used from sergeant up to chief master sergeant, the same as in its U.S. counterparts.



In the Polish Army rank insignia system there are two grades of sergeant: sierżant (OR-6 in NATO code) and starszy sierżant (OR-7). The rank first appeared in Henryk Dąbrowski's Polish Legions in Italy in the late 18th century. Both ranks are used in the infantry, armoured forces, air force. In the cavalry the equivalent is wachmistrz (literally wachtmeister). In the artillery the equivalent is ogniomistrz (literally firemaster). In the Polish Navy, the equivalent is bosman (literally boatswain).


Armed forces[]

In the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), there are five different grades of sergeant: third sergeant (3SG), second sergeant (2SG), first sergeant (1SG), staff sergeant (SSG), and master sergeant (MSG). Sergeants are considered specialists in the SAF. They are equivalent to the non-commissioned officers of other militaries.

Soldiers must complete their specialist course at the Specialist Cadet School, formerly known as the School of Infantry Specialists (SISPEC) or other training institutes before being promoted to third sergeant. While active duty national servicemen may be promoted to second sergeant, most personnel holding ranks above that are career soldiers.[citation needed]

Promotion from third sergeant to staff sergeant takes an average of 6 years, although there are many factors which may cause a soldier's promotion to cease. These factors include failure to pass an annual physical fitness proficiency test, poor performance, or being charged for offences.[citation needed]

Third sergeants are usually section commanders. They may also hold certain logistics or administrative posts such as company quartermaster sergeant. Second sergeants usually serve as platoon sergeants. First sergeants, staff sergeants and master sergeants usually serve as company sergeant majors or administrative specialists at company level or higher.[citation needed]

Paramilitary force[]

In the Singapore Police Force, Singapore Civil Defence Force, Singapore Prison Service and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, the rank of sergeant lies between corporal and staff sergeant. Unlike most police forces in the world, the rank of sergeant has been changed since the late 1990s to an entry-level rank for Diploma/GCE "A" Level holders rather than a supervisory one.

Sri Lanka[]


Sergeant is used as a rank in the Sri Lanka Army. It is senior to corporal and junior to staff sergeant. It is denoted by three chevrons.

Air Force[]

Sergeant is also used as a rank in the Sri Lanka Air Force. It is senior to corporal and junior to flight sergeant. It is denoted by three chevrons.


The rank of sergeant exists in the Sri Lanka Police Service. It is senior to constable but junior to sub-inspector. There are several grades which are classed as non-gazetted officers:

  • Police sergeant class 1 (PS)
  • Police sergeant class 2 (PS)

South Korea[]


ROK Army Byeongjang

In the Republic of Korea Armed Forces, byeong-jang (Korean language: 병장 ) is equivalent to the U.S. Army's rank of sergeant. It is typically attained after 15–18 months of service as an enlisted personnel. The rank insignia for 'byung-jang is four horizontal bars.

In addition, there are four non-commissioned officer ranks above byeong-jang: ha-sa (Korean language: 하사 ), jung-sa (Korean language: 중사 ), sang-sa (Korean language: 상사 ), and won-sa (Korean language: 원사 ). Ha-sa is equivalent to U.S. Army's rank of staff sergeant and its rank is one chevron. Jung-sa is equivalent to the U.S. Army's sergeant first class and its rank is denoted by two chevrons. Sang-sa is equivalent to the U.S. Army master sergeant and its rank is denoted by three chevrons. Won-sa, the most senior non-commissioned officer rank, is denoted by three chevrons and a star above the chevrons and is equivalent to the U.S. Army sergeant major rank.



In Sweden, sergeant is a military rank above korpral ("corporal") and below förste sergeant ("first sergeant"). The insignia of rank was changed in 2009 to resemble American and British sergeants.

United Kingdom[]



Within the British police, sergeant is the first supervisory rank. Sergeant is senior to the rank of constable, and junior to inspector. The rank is mostly operational, meaning that sergeants are directly concerned with day-to-day policing. Uniformed sergeants are often responsible for supervising a shift of constables and allocating duties to them. Large stations have a separate custody sergeant who is responsible for authorising detention of arrested persons under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, along with effective running of the custody suite.

Plain clothes detective sergeants are equal in rank to their uniformed counterparts, the prefix 'detective' identifies them as being trained in criminal investigations and part of or attached to CID.

Uniformed sergeants' epaulettes feature three down-pointed chevrons, above a personal identification number. Sergeants in service with the Metropolitan Police, which is responsible for law enforcement in Greater London, also have a divisional call sign attached to the epaulette, due to the size of the force.

Until the abolition of first class detective sergeants in 1973, Metropolitan Police detective sergeants were officially known as second class detective sergeants.

Unlike in the military, addressing a police sergeant as "sarge" is not seen as incorrect. Constables in some forces (including the Metropolitan Police) refer to their sergeants as "skipper".

As of 1 September 2014 (2014-09-01), the annual salary for newly promoted sergeants is of £36,519, rising to £41,040 after four years as a sergeant.[4]

In the case of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, sergeants' chevrons point upwards.[5] This is derived from the practices of the Royal Irish Constabulary, who were a mounted police force and followed a tradition of upward-pointing ranks[citation needed].

Royal Marines and Army[]


A sergeant in the Royal Marines and British Army wears three point-down chevrons on their sleeve and usually serves as a platoon or troop sergeant, or in a specialist position. Staff sergeant (in technical units) or colour sergeant (In the Royal Marines and the infantry), is the next most senior rank, above which come warrant officers. The Household Cavalry use the rank of corporal of horse instead, the only regiments to preserve the old cavalry tradition of having corporals but not sergeants.

A lance-sergeant (LSgt) was formerly a corporal acting in the capacity of a sergeant. The appointment now survives only in the Foot Guards and Honourable Artillery Company, where it is awarded to all corporals, a lance-sergeant wears three chevrons and belongs to the sergeants' mess, however, functionally he remains a corporal rather than an acting sergeant (e.g., he will typically command a section). In the Household Cavalry, the equivalent appointment is lance-corporal of horse.

A sergeant in infantry regiments usually holds the appointment of "platoon sergeant" and is second in command of a platoon. The Rifles still use the pre-1953 spelling "serjeant".

Air force[]

RAF Sergeant's rank insignia

The Royal Air Force also has the rank of sergeant, wearing the same three chevrons. The rank lies between corporal and flight sergeant (or chief technician for technicians and musicians).

Between 1950 and 1964 in technical trades there was a rank of senior technician which was the equivalent of a sergeant. Senior technicians wore their chevrons point up.

On 1 July 1946, aircrew sergeants were re-designated as aircrew IV, III or II, replacing the chevrons with one, two or three six-pointed stars within a wreath and surmounted by an eagle. This was unpopular and in 1950 they returned to the old rank, but have worn an eagle above their chevrons ever since.

Sergeants of the Royal Flying Corps wore a four-bladed propeller above their chevrons.

United States[]



In the United States Army, although there are several ranks of sergeant, the lowest carries the title of sergeant (SGT). Sergeant is the enlisted rank in the U.S. Army above specialist and corporal and below staff sergeant, and is the second-lowest grade of non-commissioned officer. The rank was often nicknamed "buck sergeant" to distinguish it from other senior grades of sergeants.[6] Sergeants in the infantry, for example, lead fire teams of four men. There are two fire teams in a 9-man rifle squad, which is led by a staff sergeant.

In the United States Army, sergeants, staff sergeants, sergeants first class, and master sergeants are typically referred to in short form by their subordinates as "sergeant", except in some training environments, or "first sergeant" in the case of first sergeants and "sergeant major" in the case of sergeants major, command sergeants major and the Sergeant Major of the Army. However, it is considered a good manner to address junior E-8 by their full rank, time allowing, or always when they request it.[citation needed]

Drill sergeants are typically addressed as "drill sergeant" regardless of rank, though this term is used depending on post policy. When serving a tour as drill sergeant this is indicated by the traditional campaign hat, commonly referred to as the "brown round" or "smokey bear".[citation needed] The drill sergeant will always wear the drill sergeant badge indicating he completed the school. The army drill sergeant badge appears on the right breast pocket.

American Civil War[]

Confederate sergeant stripes in red artillery pattern.

The rank was used by both the Union Army and the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. The same rank insignia was used similarly by both armies. Both varied the color of the stripes by assigning red for artillery, yellow for cavalry, blue for infantry and later in the war, green for sharpshooters. Some militia units varied these colors even further and had other colors including black and red with gold piping for various units. The rank was just below first sergeant and just above corporal. They usually commanded a section of twenty men with two corporals under him. As the war progressed these men were often in command of platoons and even companies as the units were depleted of officers during combat.

Marine Corps[]


The United States Marine Corps has several ranks that carry the title of sergeant, the lowest of which is sergeant (E-5). Marine sergeants are the fifth enlisted rank in the U.S. Marine Corps, just above corporal and below staff sergeant. Once a Marine reaches sergeant, their promotion no longer derives from a composite or cutting score; instead, they receive a fitness report (i.e., a formal written evaluation, grading attributes from appearance and bearing to leadership and technical proficiency). Sergeants serve as squad leaders or platoon guide in an infantry platoon, while staff sergeants serve in the billet of "platoon sergeant" in rifle platoons and "section leader" in weapons platoons (i.e., machine guns, mortars, anti-tank/assault weapons) An experienced gunnery sergeant in the infantry is typically in charge of coordinating operations and individual training for a company-sized group of Marines (approximately 180 personnel). Infantry gunnery sergeants usually serve as platoon sergeant for a heavy weapons platoon before moving up to the Company Gunnery Sergeant billet. The US Marine sergeant is often referred to as the backbone of the Marine Corps.

In the Marine Corps, enlisted ranks above sergeant are referred to as staff non-commissioned officers, or SNCOs. These ranks, staff sergeant through sergeant major, are always referred to by their full rank and never merely as "sergeant". Gunnery sergeants are commonly addressed as simply "Gunny" informally.

Master sergeants are addressed as "Master Sergeant" or "Top" at the preference of the marine wearing the rank and dependent on the MOS community. Master gunnery sergeants follow the same protocol but are commonly referred to as "Master Guns", or "Master Gunny".

Air Force[]


The U.S. Air Force rank of sergeant (E-4) was phased out in the 1990s. Previously, senior airmen were promoted to sergeant and granted non-commissioned officer status after 12 months time in grade; this lateral promotion is no longer conferred and senior airmen compete directly for promotion to staff sergeant. The old rank of sergeant was commonly referred to as "Buck Sergeant". In today's Air Force, the term sergeant refers to all Air Force non-commissioned officers up to senior master sergeant (E-8). An airman who has achieved the rank of chief master sergeant (E-9) is referred to as "Chief". Those in the grade of staff sergeant (E-5) and technical sergeant (E-6) are referred to as non-commissioned officers, while those in the grade of master sergeant (E-7) through chief master sergeant (E-9) are referred to as senior non-commissioned officers.

Police departments and prisons[]

NYPD sergeant's sleeve insignia

Sergeant is also a commonly-used rank within United States police departments. It ranks above "officer" and "corporal", and it represents the first level of management within the organization. Most major departments, including the Atlanta Police Department, Chicago Police Department, Dallas Police Department, Houston Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Miami-Dade Police Department, New York State Police, New York Police Department, Philadelphia Police Department, San Diego Police Department, and the Seattle Police Department have the rank of sergeant.

The rank of sergeant is also often used in American prisons. It is a supervisory rank above the rank-and-file prison officer.


In Vietnam People's Army, sergeant (trung sĩ) is the second highest rank of non-commissioned officer. Sergeant is below master sergeant and above corporal.

Types of sergeant[]

"Sergeant" is generally the lowest rank of sergeant, with individual military entities choosing some additional words to signify higher ranking individuals. What terms are used, and what seniority they signify, is to a great extent dependent on the individual armed service. The term "sergeant" is also used in many appointment titles.



See also[]


  1. The French military, as many others, does not use the term "non-commissioned officer" but instead sous-officier, meaning "sub-officer" (compare to German unteroffizier).
  2. The color of the chevrons of the sergeant depends on his unit: the vast majority of infantry units use gold, but a few, such as the chasseurs alpins, use silver.
  3. Duden; Origin and meaning of "Korporal", in German. [1]
  4. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "Police Pay". Retrieved 2009-06-05. 
  6. p.21 Morton, Jerry Reluctant Lieutenant: From Basic to OCS in the Sixties Texas A&M University Press, 13/04/2004
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