Rank has its privileges in government, but salary isn't always one of them. It is getting harder all the time to tell chiefs from sub-chiefs simply by examining their pay stubs. For instance:

The number of "frozen" federal executives -- people getting the same salary -- will nearly double next month when the 9.1 percent pay raise goes into effect. More than 7.300 executives, most of them career types, will move up to the maximum $50,110.50 pay level already occupied by 7.908 executives in the super grade levels. The latter get no raise this year. Many of their subordinates will get only that portion of the 9.1 percent that brings them up to the $50.112.50 level.

Government-wide there will be about 25,200 federal executives at the $50,000 per year ceiling once the pay raise is effective. That will be the first pay period beginning on or after Oct. 1.

included in that total of 25,200 frozen souls are about 6,300 members of the Senior Executive Service. A handful make more than $50,112.50, but the vast majority of the elite corps -- which promised higher than normal civil service pay in its recruiting ads -- are frozen and will remain so, probably until October 1981.

There are also around 3,000 top paid people under the Veterans Administration medical schedule, and Foreign Service pay system who are frozen in place.

In the white collar service the same-pay situation covers all Grade 18 personnel, all Grade 17 employes, most Grade 16 personnel and extends down to long-service people in Grade 15.

If one must be frozen in pay, there are much worse places to be than in the $50,000 bracket. Many civil servants and private industry workers would agree with that. On the other hand, there often is a big, big difference in responsibility between a Grade 15 U.S. employe and a Grade 18. That includes time on the job, extra hours put in, gray hair and experience.

Nevertheless, presidents and different congresses have produced the system whereby a growing number of official make the same salary, despite very different jobs.

If pay freezes continue, and rank-and-file workers keep getting pay raises, the day isn't too far off when the government will have more top paid officials than it does clerks and typists.