Careers in the Air Force
A PROMISING FUTURE
Air Force ROTC prepares you to become an Officer in the United States Air Force, which carries a high level of responsibility and honor. When you graduate from ROTC, you’ll dive right into a management-level position within the Air Force, well ahead of your non-ROTC peers. And whether you continue in the Air Force after your commitment is fulfilled or decide to join the business world, you’ll be well prepared with valuable life and leadership skills.
With a college degree, you’ll be eligible to enter the Air Force as an Officer. There are some exciting opportunities in flight as well as many careers in technical, scientific and specialty fields. Your choice of study and major will impact what you qualify for in the Air Force, so it’s important to have your future in mind as you choose your major.
As soon as you figure out what career path interests you, you can determine whether Air Force ROTC is a good fit for your goals. The Air Force needs Officers for all sorts of specialties, so chances are there’s a program to suit you.
Start by considering which fields interest you. Upon graduation, you’ll be assigned a career in the Air Force based on your educational field of study. You can request assignments; however, you might not get your first choice, so be prepared with back-up choices.
Educational Requirements: Every officer job requires at least a bachelor’s degree. Some specialties may have more requirements, such as a degree in a specific major. Check out the Careers page to see the requirements for particular careers.
Special Requirements: Some professional specialties (such as a doctor, lawyer, nurse or chaplain) require full professional qualifications prior to earning placement. In addition, some specialties require certain physical skills—for example, you must pass the flight physical exam to be a pilot or combat systems officer in addition to successfully completing the training.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OFFICER AND ENLISTED
Officers are trained to be the leaders and supervisors of enlisted personnel. Rank, pay and career opportunities for officers are commensurate with their elevated level of responsibility. To be commissioned as an officer, a minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required. Also, you must be an officer to become a pilot.
AFROTC is one of three routes to earning a commission into the United States Air Force:
Air Force ROTC—an academic department for undergraduate students at more than 1,100 civilian colleges/universities where students take ROTC classes in addition to their normal class schedule.
Air Force Academy—an undergraduate military service academy located in Colorado Springs, CO, where students receive military training while earning an undergraduate degree.
Officer Training School (OTS)—a nine-week officer training course located at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, AL, for individuals who have already earned a bachelor’s degree (or higher).
Regardless of which route you take, upon successful completion of training and receipt of a bachelor’s degree, you’ll be commissioned as a second lieutenant. After you graduate and enter the active duty Air Force, you’ll receive specific training in your designated career field.
Enlisting in the Air Force is done through a local recruiter. Once you enlist, you will complete basic training and prospective technical training. You don’t need a college degree to enlist, but many enlisted people do choose to earn a degree. If you enlist and then earn a degree, you do not automatically become an officer; you must successfully complete either ROTC, the Academy or Officer Training School. If you are interested in enlisted opportunities, please visit airforce.com.
The most significant difference between officers and enlisted is the pay. A second lieutenant (Officer) with fewer than two years of military experience will receive around $2,900 per month base pay, plus food and housing allowances. An enlisted Airman first class with fewer than two years military experience will receive around $1,800 per month base pay, plus food and housing allowances. Check out the chart below for more information.
Cadets in the Professional Officer Course and scholarship cadets are called contract cadets. There is no service commitment until a cadet is on contract. After completing all Air Force ROTC and academic degree requirements, contracted cadets accept a commission appointed by the president of the United States as a second lieutenant in the Air Force.
- Most cadets incur a four-year active duty commitment.
- Pilots incur a 10-year active duty service commitment.
- Combat Systems Officers incur a six-year commitment.
- Air Battle Management career fields require a minimum six-year commitment.
After your initial obligation, whether you remain in the Air Force or pursue a civilian career is up to you. Either way, Air Force ROTC is a great way to get an education and learn the skills that you need to succeed in life.
- Nursing graduates agree to accept a commission in the Air Force Nurse Corps and serve four years on active duty after successfully completing their licensing examination.
- Cadet premedical scholarship recipients who are accepted to medical school within one year of graduating are sponsored in their pursuit of medical degrees.
After graduation, in exchange for getting their college education paid for, a contracted cadet accepts a commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force. Most cadets make a four-year, active duty service commitment.
Find everything you need to know about ROTC requirements and what it takes to succeed in Air Force ROTC.
What if you didn’t have to worry about paying for college? ROTC offers a variety of scholarships that will help relieve the financial burden of your college education.
Mission & Values
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