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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 corresponds to command of a squad (or section). However, in commonwealth armies, it is a more senior rank, corresponding roughly to a platoon second-in-command. In the United States Army, sergeant is a more junior rank, corresponding to a squad second-in-command, and in the United States Marine Corps, a Sergeant is in total command of a squad.

More senior ranks are often variations on sergeant, for instance staff sergeant, flight sergeant and sergeant major. The spelling serjeant is sometimes used.


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 Officer. 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.


Defence Forces

Sergeant (SGT) is a rank in both the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force. The ranks are equal to each other and the Royal Australian Navy rank of Petty Officer (PO).

However, the RAAF rank of Flight Sergeant (FSGT) outranks the Army rank of Staff Sergeant (SSGT). There is no Navy or RAAF equivalent of SSGT, however the Navy rank of Chief Petty Officer (CPO) and Army rank of Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) are equivalent to a Flight Sergeant.

In the Australian army the rank of Sergeant is above Corporal but below Warrant Officer Class 2. Although Staff Sergeant is technically between the two ranks, this rank is currently being phased out of the Australian Army. The insignia of a Sergeant in the Australian Army is three chevrons vertically adjacent to each other. Sergeants are non commissioned officers and are usually the seconds-in-command of infantry platoons or armoured troops.


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:

  • Sergeant (SGT) (three chevrons); and
  • Senior Sergeant (SEN/SGT) (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. This rank is less senior than that of a senior sergeant. Upon appointment as a Sergeant or Senior Sergeant, the Sergeant is given a Warrant of Appointment under the Commissioners 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.

  • South Australia Police have the additional rank of Brevet Sergeant (two chevrons below an inverted arrow head) which is an authorization for an officer to temporarily hold a 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 College, recruits must address all ranks of Sergeants as "Sergeant" and this is rigidly enforced by members of the NSW Protocol Unit.

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) ( or ) is an Army or Air Force non-commissioned officer (NCO) rank of the Canadian Forces. Its Naval equivalent is Petty Officer 2nd Class (PO2) (French: maître de 2e classe or m2). It is senior to the appointment of Master Corporal (MCpl) and its equivalent naval appointment, Master Seaman (MS), and junior to Warrant Officer (WO) and its naval equivalent, Petty Officer 1st Class (PO1). Sgts and PO2s together make up the cadre of senior non-commissioned officers (Sr NCOs).

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 3-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 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 (ie an infantry Platoon Sergeant, or Troop Sergeant in an armoured unit). After unification he was 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."

Example of Insignia


Police forces across Canada also use this rank for senior non-commanding officers above the rank of Constable or Corporal. Staff Sergeants are responsible for a unit or team within a station or division.


Both the Royal Canadian Army Cadets and Royal Canadian Air Cadets have Sergeant ranks in their cadet organizations:

  • Sergeant - Air Cadet
  • Flight Sergeant - Air Cadet

  • Company Sergeant Major - Army Cadet
  • Company Quarter Master Sergeant - Army Cadet
  • Drill Sergeant Major - Army Cadet
  • Regimental Sergeant Major - Army Cadet



Kersantti is in Finnish Defence Forces the second and highest NCO rank that a conscript can possibly reach before entering the reserve. The beginning and most common NCO rank is alikersantti (lit. sub-sergeant); see Corporal.

Only a few NCO's in each conscript company reach the higher rank of full three-chevron kersantti. There's no difference between the 4-month group leader training and service time of alikersantti and kersantti; all start their group 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 Deputy Leader 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 participating some military refresher courses while in reserve, or by enlisting to (short-term) professional service in the military.



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 indifferently for both contract sergeant and career sergeant. Contract sergeant is classified as the lowest NCO rank, the rank below being chief corporal.

  • Contract sergeant (Sergent sous contrat): One chevron, gold or silver.

    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.



In the German language, the rank of Sergeant is known as Feldwebel. The rank has existed since the 18th century, with usage as a title dating to the Middle Ages. One important difference between Sergeants and Feldwebel exists: in a typical Bundeswehr company, only two Züge (platoons) are under the command of an officer, while the other Zugführer (platoon leader) positions are held by Feldwebel-ranked NCOs (typically Hauptfeldwebel and above).In the German Navy the rank is called Bootsmann.

In the modern German Army, Feldwebel and Oberfeldwebel have a NATO rank code of OR-6, with Unteroffizier (historically considered generically equivalent to Corporal) and Stabsunteroffizier having a rank code of OR-5.

The rank order is: Feldwebel, Oberfeldwebel, Hauptfeldwebel, Stabsfeldwebel and Oberstabsfeldwebel.

India and Pakistan


In many metropolitan police forces in both India and Pakistan e.g. Kolkata Police, a Sergeant is equivalent to Police Head Constable and senior to Police Constable in the Indian police. Head Constables or Police Sergeant wear three point-down chevron 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 Indian Army and Pakistan Army.

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 (JWO). The rank insignia is a three pointed-down chevron. The rank of Flight Sergeant is now obsolete with the responsibilities given to Junior Warrant Officer.


In the Indian Navy and the Pakistan Navy, the rank of Petty Officer is the rough equivalent.



Sergeant (Sgt) (Sáirsint in Irish) is the second rank of non-commissioned officer within the Irish Army. The Naval equivalent is Petty Officer (PO).

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 NCO 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

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.



In the Italian Army the rank of Sergeant, Sergente, is the first rank of the Warrant Officers Sergeant Role, Sottufficiali ruolo sergenti, followed by Sergente Maggiore (literally Major Sergeant) and Sergente Maggiore Capo (literally Chief Major Sergeant). The ranks of Sergente and Sergente Maggiore intended for paratroopers are bordered in blue.



In the Mexican Army the "Cabo" (Corporal) is upgraded to "Sargento segundo" (2nd Sergeant) and then to "Sargento primero" (1st Sergeant).



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 and cavalry. In the artillery the equivalent is Ogniomistrz (literally Firemaster). In the Polish Navy, the equivalent is Bosman (literally Boatswain).

Hong Kong

Army/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 Kongmarker.

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


Hong Kong Police 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, whom carry their rank from their regular policing duties.


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

    • Sergeant Instructor
    • Cadet Sergeant

    • Staff Sergeant
    • Sergeant
    • Cadet Staff Sergeant
    • Cadet Sergeant


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 Specialist in the SAF. They are equivalent to the non-commissioned officers of other militaries.

Soldiers must complete their Specialist course at School of Infantry Specialistsmarker (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.

Promotion from 3SG to SSG 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 in their appointments or getting charged for offences.

3SGs are usually section commanders. They may also hold certain logistics or administrative posts such as Company Quartermaster Sergeant. 2SGs usually serve as Platoon Sergeants. 1SGs, SSGs, and MSGs usually serve as Company Sergeant Major or administrative Specialists at company level or higher.


In the Singapore Police Forcemarker, the rank of Sergeant lies between Corporal and Staff Sergeant.

South Korea


In the Republic of Korea Armed Forces, Byung-Jang (병장) is equivalent to US Army's rank of Sergeant. It is the most senior enlisted rank and is typically attained after 15–18 months of service as an enlisted personnel. Contrary to US Army's rank of Sergeant, South Korean Military's rank of Byung-Jang (병장) is not a non-commissioned officer rank. The rank insignia for Byung-Jang is four horizontal bars.

In addition, there are four non-commissioned officer ranks above Byung-Jang: Ha-Sa (하사), Jung-Sa (중사), Sang-Sa (상사), and Won-Sa (원사). Ha-Sa is equivalent to US Army's rank of Staff Sergeant and its rank is one chevron. Jung-Sa is equivalent to US Army's Sergeant First Class and its rank is denoted by two chevrons. Sang-Sa is equivalent to US Army's Master Sergeant and its rank is denoted by three chevrons. Won-Sa, the most senior NCO rank, is denoted by three chevrons and a star above the chevrons and is equivalent to US Army's Sergeant Major rank.

Army Navy Airforce



In Sweden Sergeant is a military rank above Korpral and below Förste 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, along with 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 Londonmarker, also have a divisional call sign attached to the eppaulette, due to the size of the force.

Until the abolition of 1st Class Detective Sergeants in 1973, Metropolitan Police Detective Sergeants were officially known as 2nd 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".

Newly promoted Sergeants are paid an annual salary of £33,000, rising to £38,000 after four years as a Sergeant.

In the case of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Sergeants' chevrons point upwards . 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 .


A Sergeant (Sgt) in the British Army wears three point-down chevron on their sleeve and usually serves as a platoon or troop sergeant, or in a specialist position. Staff Sergeant 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 chiefly in the Guards, where it is awarded to all Corporals. A Lance-Sergeant in the Guards and Honourable Artillery Company wears three chevrons, belongs to the Sergeants' Mess, and is considered senior to "normal" Corporals; however, for practical purposes 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. Some British infantry regiments, such as The Rifles, still use the pre-1953 spelling 'Serjeant'.

Air Force

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 sergeants in technical trades were known as Senior Technicians and 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


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. The Washington D.C. Police Department and Fire Departments both have the rank Sergeant though they have different roles for each Department.


In the United States Army, although there are several ranks of sergeant, the lowest carries the title of Sergeant (SGT). Newly promoted Sergeants are known as "buck sergeants" . 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. 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, such as the Airborne or Air Assault courses. Another exception is for Staff Sergeants, Sergeants First Class, or Master Sergeants serving as acting First Sergeant. These soldiers, regardless of rank, will be referred to as First Sergeant.

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". The Drill Sergeant will always wear the Drill Sergeant badge indicating he completed the school. The Army Drill Sergeant badge appears on the right upper shirt pocket.

American Civil War

The rank was used by both the Union Army and the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. The same rank insignia was used by both armies. Both armies varied the color of the stripes by assigning red for artillery, yellow for cavalry, and blue for infantry. Some Confederate militia units varied these colors even further and had other colors including black stripes for various units. The rank was just below First Sergeant and just above Corporal.

Marine Corps

Similarly, the United States Marine Corps has several ranks which carry the title of Sergeant, the lowest of which is Sergeant (Sgt). Marine Sergeants are the fifth enlisted rank in the U.S. Marine Corps, just above Corporal and below Staff Sergeant. The rank Sergeant is the oldest rank in the Marine Corps. Once a Marine reaches Sergeant, their promotion does not rely upon a composite or cutting score anymore. Instead, they receive a Fitrep (Fitness Report). Sergeants serve as squad leaders in an infantry company while staff sergeants serve the billet of "platoon sergeant", supervising squad leaders and the platoon as a whole, and are second in command under the platoon commander.

In the Marine Corps, enlisted ranks above Sergeant are referred to as Staff Non-Commissioned Officers (Staff NCOs 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. A Sergeant in the Marine Corps is never called "Sarge," officially or 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. This privilege is usually extended to NCOs or SNCOs and above, and even Marines that are the same rank or higher. Master Gunnery Sergeants follow the same protocol but are commonly referred to as "Master Guns", "Master Gunny", or "Pop". First Sergeants and Sergeants Major are never referred to as "top" or "pop", repectively.

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 NCO 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 in the Air Force as "Buck" Sergeant. In today's Air Force, the term Sergeant refers to all Air Force NCOs up to Senior Master Sergeant. An airman who has achieved the rank of Chief Master Sergeant is referred to as Chief.

Types of sergeant

"Sergeant" is generally the lowest rank of Sergeant, with individual militaries 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

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