What is the difference between being an officer and enlisting in the Air Force?
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 commissionedcommissionedAppointed by the President of the United States. as an officer you must, at a minimum, have a bachelor's degree.
AFROTCAFROTCAir Force Reserve Officer Training Corps is one of three commissioning sources for the United States Air Force:
- Air Force ROTC
- Academic department for undergraduate students at over 1,100 civilian colleges/universities
- Take ROTC classes in addition to normal class schedule
- Air Force Academy
- Undergraduate military service academy located in Colorado Springs, CO
- Receive military training while earning undergraduate degree
- Officer Training School (OTS)
- 9-week officer training course located at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, AL
- For individuals already possessing a bachelor's degree or higher
Regardless of which route taken, you will be commissioned as a second lieutenant upon successful completion of training in the program and receipt of a bachelor’s degree. You will receive specific training in a career field after graduation from college and following entrance into the active duty Air Force.
Only officers can be pilots.
Enlisting in the Air Force is done through a local recruiter followed by basic training and prospective technical training. This avenue does not require a college degree, though many enlisted people choose to earn a degree.
If you enlist, you do not automatically become an officer if you earn a degree, you must still be accepted into one of the commissioning sources and successfully complete the program.
If you are interested in enlisted opportunities, please visit AirForce.com.
The contrast in pay between officers and enlisted is probably one of the most noticeable differences you will find.
- A second lieutenant (Officer) with less than two years of military experience will receive around $2,800 per month base pay, plus possible housing and subsistence allowances.
- An enlisted Airman 1st Class with less than two years military experience will receive around $1,700 per month base pay, plus subsistence and a lower housing allowance (if living off of a military base).
- This $900 monthly difference between the pay of a second lieutenant officer member and an Airman 1st Class enlisted member increases with each rank.