How Much Do Fighter Pilots Make?


Military fighter pilots serve in the U.S. Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps to provide air support for troops on the ground and conduct assault and reconnaissance missions. Salary for military fighter pilots started at $2,934.30 per month, as of 2015, according to the Defense Finance and Accounting System.

Base Pay for Officers

Military fighter pilots are all officers ,and their pay reflects the government's military pay tables. Salaries depend upon the pilot's rank and the amount of time served in the military. New officers at the O-1 pay grade earn between $2,934.30 and $3,692.10 per month.

Officers can advance up to the O-10 pay grade, where they earn between $16,072.20 and $19,762.50 per month. They must have at least 20 years of service before they qualify for the O-10 pay grade.

Additional Income for Pilots

Pilots also earn special pay and bonuses for their service. These include aviation career incentive pay, flight pay and bonuses for pilots extending their commitment to the military. Pilots also receive allowances to help cover living costs such as the basic allowance for housing.


Officers receive a flat amount of $253.38 per month as a basic allowance for subsistence. They also receive a basic allowance for housing based on their rank. Pilots without dependents receive between $697.50 and $1,563.60 per month. Those with dependents receive between $929.70 and $1,923.30 per month. During deployments or when assigned away from their family, pilots may also qualify for the family separation allowance of $250.

Special Pay

Pilots receive aviation career incentive pay based on their years of military aviation service. This pay starts at $125 per month and increases to $250 for pilots with more than 25 years of service.

Pilots also receive flight pay or hazardous duty incentive pay. Pay ranges from $150 to $250 per month based on rank.


The military may offer bonuses for officers to become pilots or for officers to extend their service as pilots. Available bonuses vary by the branch of military and their need for pilots.

For example, as of 2015, the Air Force faced a shortage of pilots, according to the Air Force Times. To encourage pilots to stay, the Air Force offered up to $225,000 for pilots who committed to an additional nine years of service and up to $125,000 for pilots who committed to an additional five years of service.

Become A Fighter Pilot

To become a fighter pilot, you must meet the general qualifications to become an officer in the military. This includes being a United States citizen, being under the age of 35 and having at least a bachelor's degree in any subject. Officers must commission before turning 35, so begin your application early. For example, the Air Force requires pilots to turn in their application by the time they are 28 1/2 years old.

In addition, you must meet strict vision requirements that include having at least 20/50 vision in each eye that is correctable to 20/20. If you have had photorefractive keratectomy, radial keratotomy or LASIK, you are not eligible to become a pilot.

After commissioning, you must complete officer training before attending flight school and receiving extensive training as a pilot. Specific training and schools vary by military branch. In the Marine Corps, for example, you will attend six weeks of preflight indoctrination training, 22 weeks of primary flight training and 14 to 49 weeks of advanced flight training.

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