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Army Sergeant Major

E-9 Noncommissioned Officer, U.S. Army
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Army Ranks » Sergeant Major RankSGM PaySGM Rank HistoryPromotion Information

How to get promoted to Sergeant Major Army Promotion to E-9 Sergeant Major

A Sergeant Major is a Noncommissioned Officer in the United States Army at DoD paygrade E-9. This page describes how the Army determines who is eligible for the promotion list to Sergeant Major.

The centralized promotion system was brought into effect for Sergeants Major on 01JAN1969, identifying RA soldiers as prepared for promotion to the grade of E-9.

The STEP evaluation framework applies to soldiers seeking Sergeant Major rank in the same way it does those seeking lower levels of senior NCO rank, such as Sergeant First Class or Master Sergeant. It helps to identify those soldiers worthy of promotion based on performance and qualifications across their career.

The Army automatically generates a slate of soldiers qualified for promotion to Sergeant Major based on career performance so far once the basic STEP requirements as well as those of time in service and time in grade as Master Sergeant/First Sergeant have been met.

As with the other senior NCO ranks, soldiers included on the slate have three chances to be selected by the board for promotion. If they stand unselected, they will be retired from the Army at their current rank after serving the required amount of time for retirement from the Army.

Senior NCO’s, in this case other Sergeants Major, as well as Officers and the Department of the Army itself, represented by the Secretary of the Army, evaluate soldiers included on the slate for E-9 based on their performance across their career as well as the qualifications they have earned, ultimately deciding whether or not the soldier stands worthy of promotion to the rank of Sergeant Major.

The NCOER remains to this selection process, giving the board a narrative of the career of the aspiring soldier and helping them to decide if the soldier is worthy of promotion.

Want to learn more? Read about the Army's Sergeant Major rank on