How Much Money Do Air Force Pilots Make?

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A career as an air-force pilot is one of the most coveted positions, no matter which country you represent. It requires a lot of training to gain the skill in precision flight.

In short, the salary of an air-force pilot depends on his rank in the chain of command and the level of military experience.

How much do air force pilots make an hour?

As per Salary.comthe average hourly wage of a pilot working for the US Military is around $47 as of October 2022. The range typically is between $41 to $53.

This hourly rate can vary based on multiple factors such as the pilot’s education, certifications, bonus skills, work experience, rank location, etc.

If you consider only the core compensation, without factoring in the short-term incentives, the hourly wage on average is $47. While, upon factoring in the incentives and bonus wages, the average figure goes up to $51 in the US.

In the last couple of years, due to the pandemic crisis – there has been a major shortage of pilots. To mitigate this pilot attrition, airlines have started offering various incentives & bonuses to pilots.

How much do air force pilots make a month?

The national average of pilot salaries in the US per year is roughly $90,000. So, on average in a month an air-force pilot in the US makes about $7,500.

The range of monthly average salary is from $4,500 to $8,500.

Almost all air-force pilots also receive additional cash compensation of over $5000 on average in a year, which may include cash bonuses, commission, tips, profit-sharing, etc.

It is to be noted that this figure can vary based on geography as well. Air force pilots in San Francisco get the highest wage averaging $215,168, which is over 50% more than the national average.

You should also factor the tax guidelines into the equation. The average federal tax for US air-force pilots is 24%.

Air force pilot salary 2022

Pilot walking to the Jet Airforce

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It is common knowledge that air-force pilots in the US are well taken care of financially through loan repayment perks, insurance aids, paid leaves, paid time off, retirement plans, etc. However, the pay scale can range substantially depending on several factors listed above.

Most military pilots in the US are paid between $80k to $85k per year on average. Unlike a regular job, pilot salaries are also determined by rank & years of service, apart from the regular factors like education, location, additional certifications, etc

So, one has to be willing to put in years of hard work and dedication to achieve the best the military has to offer. Most military pilots fall under the ranks of level 1 officer to level 5 officer, depending on their experience.

A level 1 officer with less than two years of service would get around $3,470 per month. This figure can go up to $4,375 once he gets four years of experience and then to $5,500 with eight years of experience (reaching level 2).

These figures will not vary much irrespective of the type of military pilot you are. This means that a level 2 officer piloting a fighter jet would make the same money as a level 2 pilot riding a military helicopter.

The same goes for pilots of all other levels.

This ratio of military service and wage also remains the same for drone pilots, which is a high-demand role these days.

How to become a pilot in the air force?

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As the position of a military pilot demands officers who have a larger stake in matters of national security, they are paid much higher wages than non-military pilots. Additionally, there are many more prerequisites for military roles.

The basic requirements to begin training as a US military pilot are listed as follows:

  • Your age should fall in the range of 18 to 33.
  • You must be a US native.
  • You must allow for a Single Scope Background Investigation.
  • Overweight applicants are not eligible in the first place.
  • You must not have any history of allergies or asthma after the age of 12.
  • You must have an unaided vision that is at least 20/50 or better.
  • Colorblind applicants are not eligible.
  • Applicants who have had laser eye surgery are not eligible either.
  • You must qualify for a comprehensive physical and psychological evaluation.
  • You must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.4, ideally in one of the STEM fields.
  • You must qualify for the basic aptitude test along with the Air Force Qualifying Test.
  • You must qualify for flight school, officer training school, and air force specialized undergraduate pilot training successfully.

It should be noted that military pilots are also expected to be adept in conflict situations. They can be ordered to carry out missions involving national security.

So, they also need to be fighters, trainers, advisors, and bombers apart from precision flight experts.

Is it hard to become a pilot in the Air Force?

Airforce pilot

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It is quite difficult to become an air-force pilot, irrespective of the country you’d be representing. If you consider the US, there are only 12,395 pilots.

So, seats are limited and one has to cross multiple barriers successfully to become a military pilot. Statistically speaking, for every 2000 prospects that enter the USAF recruiting office, only a single candidate gets to fly a military jet.

On top of this, there are far too few pilot training slots compared to the number of applicants in the USAF. Additionally, as discussed above, the primary requirements to begin start training as a US military pilot are quite steep.

If you pass all the basic requirements, you’d be joining one of the 1400 pilot trainee slots available each year.

It is an interesting dynamic of supply and demand, at a certain time the military could have an extremely high demand for pilots, improving chances of prospects. While, at other times, demand could be low, making it even more difficult for interested candidates.

In a nutshell, becoming a military pilot demands immense dedication, motivation, mental fortitude, resilience, and a go-getter attitude.

What is the height limit for Air Force pilots?

When it comes to military pilot roles, there could be specific height requirements depending on the type of aircraft you’d be flying. The positive side is that the majority of the US adult population meets these requirements, as waivers can be issued depending on certain factors.

In May 2020, the US air force changed its law regarding height requirements to mitigate the pilot shortage and to include 44% of the US female population eligible to be a pilot.

Earlier, a candidate needed to be between 5’4″ to 6’5″ tall i.e. between 64-67 inches. A sitting height of at least 34 inches was also mandatory.

Currently, there are no strict height requirements for military pilots. Nowadays the US air force uses a modern screening process (anthropometric) where successful candidates are measured physically and then matched with a suitable aircraft.

However, navy pilots, marine corps pilots, and army helicopter pilots do have to meet specific height requirements.

How much do retired air force pilots make?

The amount of money a retired air force pilot makes in the US depends on which retirement system they’re under.

In the old system, your monthly retirement pension is 2.5% of your monthly base pay times the number of years you’ve served the military before retiring. Additionally, if you’ve served 20 years on active duty, you get 50% of your base salary every month for the rest of your life.

You would also get support from Tricare Retired Reserve, which offers some of the best health insurance plans at affordable rates.

Most airline companies have done away with this system as it is costly to maintain. On average, under the old system, a retired military pilot could make as much as $4,458.05 per month or $53,496.60 in a year.

The new system is called the Blended Retirement System (BRS). Pilots serving under this system would get 2% of their base pay, instead of 2.5%.

This amounts to 40% of your base pay if you’ve served active duty for 20 years before retiring.

The healthcare aspect remains unchanged, however. So, under the new system, a retired pilot would make $3,566.44 per month or $42,797.28 per year.

Fighter pilot salary per month

For fighter pilots in the US, the average annual salary is around $98,396 as of October 2022. The salary range falls between $85,981 and $111,412 per year.

Air force pilot benefits

In addition to a generous base salary package, pilots serving the US military get many more additional benefits in the form of incentives, bonuses, low-cost insurance, and food & housing allowances.

Plus they are eligible for 30 days of paid vacation, yearly tuition support, and an enviable retirement package.

FAQ relating to how much air force pilots make

Do Air Force pilots make good money?

Yes, military pilots in the US make a very decent living as they are paid on average $80,000-$85,000 a year, which implies a monthly payment of $6,600 to $7,100.

How much does an Air Force jet pilot make?

Fighter jet pilots in the US start at $37,292 per year as level 1 officers with a rank of ‘2nd Lieutenant’. This figure can go up to $189,601 for a highly experienced level 10 officer, holding the rank of a ‘General’.

How much do first year Air Force pilots make?

A level 1 officer with less than two years of duty would get roughly $3,470 per month. This value can go up to $4,375 per month once he completes four years of service.

How much do F 22 pilots make?

An F-22 pilot serving the USAF is a trained specialist, who excels at flying the F-22 fighter jet aircraft. While starting as a level 1 officer, on average a pilot would earn ​at least $3,385 per month.

This figure can reach $7,139​​, for a level 6 officer holding the rank of a ‘Colonel’.

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