We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Private First Class?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Historical Index is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Historical Index, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A private first class is a junior enlisted member of the United States Armed Forces. In the Army, a private first class falls between a private and a corporal in rank, while the United States Marines Corps places this rank between that of private and lance corporal. Junior enlisted automatically attain this rank after a set period of service, although the automatic promotion can be hastened in certain cases.

Under normal circumstances, someone attains the rank of private first class (PFC) after 12 months of service, and four months at the rank of private. He or she can be awarded this rank in a shorter period of time with some college education or a notable performance in boot camp. Achieving high ranks in organizations like the Eagle Scouts can also result in an accelerated advancement through the lower ranks of the military.

In the Army, the PFC is the third lowest enlisted rank, designated as E-3. In the Marines, the designation E-2 is used, reflecting the fact that the private first class is the second lowest enlisted rank. Enlisted men generally try to move quickly through the lower grades so that they can access better salaries and more interesting, challenging positions which will allow them to utilize the skills they learn in the course of their military service.

Members of the Army with a private first class ranking wear an insignia which includes a single chevron and a rocker. The rocker ensures that the rank is not confused with the lower rank of private. In the Marines, a single chevron is worn. As a general rule, the more insignia someone wears, the higher his or her military ranking; addition chevrons and rockers indicate a correspondingly higher rank. Members of the armed forces also wear additional uniform emblems including collar insignia, indicating specialties, and military decorations.

Under the NATO ranking system which is used to standardize and unify the armed forces of various NATO members, the private first class is known as an OR-3 in the Army, or OR-2 in the Marines. This ranking system is used to ensure that ranks are clearly understood across a diverse number of services, so that people serve in the appropriate positions when they participate in NATO missions. The OR-3 is comparable to ranks such as the Lance-Corporal in the United Kingdom, Kapral in Poland, and Seersant in Estonia, while the OR-2 is equivalent to the French Matelot breveté, the Canadian Ordinary Seaman, and the Danish Marineoverkonstabel.

Historical Index is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Historical Index researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon303708 — On Nov 15, 2012

When I grow up, I want to be in the military, but I don't want my family to worry all the time. I wonder if I should go or not?

By croydon — On Jun 09, 2011

I had no idea that promotions in the military happened so quickly. I imagine they happen more slowly once you get high enough in rank.

I wonder if the twelve months includes training time?

I also didn't know that the Eagle Scout training was acknowledged by the military like that. I think that is an excellent idea though. Most Eagle Scouts I've met have been extremely capable and would be an asset to any kind of military company.

By irontoenail — On Jun 07, 2011

Ranking is extremely important to military officers and you had better get it right.

I knew a guy once who played a prank on his friend. They were playing pool in a bar where some marines were celebrating a promotion. The guy told his friend to go over and salute the "private" (who was clearly of a much higher rank). The friend did so, thinking he was being polite and friendly. The marines did not take it well.

Luckily the guy was willing to go over and explain the prank to the marines before they got too angry.

But it could have ended badly if they couldn't take a joke!

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
Historical Index, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Historical Index, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.