The United States Air Force is among the largest employers in the world, with over 320,000 active duty personnel on its payroll, according to the most recent data. If you’re considering a career in the military, the Air Force has much to offer when it comes to pay, benefits, and bonuses.

Air Force pay varies significantly based on rank, experience, and other factors. A career in the Air Force can also give you the opportunity to travel the world with many education and career opportunities.   

Understanding Air Force Pay Rates

The monthly base pay of USAF members depends on their current rank, number of years served, and pay grade. Additional tax-free allowances, special pay, and bonuses make up a significant portion of Air Force pay.

You may also receive special pay based on your qualifications, specialties, duty station, and/or duty assignment. The Special and Incentive pay can include pay for hostile fire and Imminent Danger Pay (IDP), Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay (HDIP), and Hardship Duty Pay (HDP).

Air Force personnel also receive a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), which helps pay for off-base housing if government quarters aren’t provided.

Military pay is also increased each year to keep up with inflation and is based on the year-over-year increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The military pay raise for 2024 is 5.2%, effective January 1, 2024.

Air Force Enlisted Basic Pay Chart

Enlisted servicemen make up a majority of the Air Force’s personnel. Enlisted ranks are junior to Officer positions, so their pay grades are significantly lower.

Here’s a sample Air Force pay chart for enlisted service members. You can find the full monthly basic pay table for enlisted members and commissioned officers on the Department of Defense’s Military Compensation website.

Years in Service

Air Force Enlisted Basic Pay Chart

Air Force Officer Basic Pay Chart

Officers in the Air Force receive higher compensation in addition to a wide range of additional privileges that come with the position. Here’s a sample Air Force pay chart for commissioned officers.

Years in Service

Air Force Officer Basic Pay Chart

Benefits and Bonuses in the Air Force

Other than the basic Air Force pay, you can also receive a benefits package and additional compensation depending on where you’re stationed and your duties. Here’s a list of some of the benefits you may receive as an Air Force active duty Service Member, Reservist, or Air National Guardsman:

  • Low-cost life insurance
  • Comprehensive dental and medical care
  • Living expenses coverage
  • Tax-free housing allowance
  • Monthly food allowance
  • Thrift Savings Plan to save for retirement (this is the U.S. Military’s version of the private sector’s 401(k) plan)
  • On-base facilities for sports and recreation
  • Available student loan repayment
  • Up to 100% of tuition assistance through the GI Bill or the Air Force Tuition Assistance Program
  • Up to $40,000 in enlistment bonuses

Differences in Pay Based on Rank and Experience

The monthly base pay for USAF members is determined by their current rank, number of years in service, and pay grade. Regardless of your specialty and the branch you work in, this base pay remains the same.

Typically, you must be promoted to a higher rank to increase your salary by any significant amount each year. Unless you are in the higher enlisted or officer ranks, you will not see much of an increase, based on gaining additional years of service, if you stay within your rank.  

You may receive extra pay for working in exceptional circumstances depending on eligibility, such as when you’re on assignment, carry a specific Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC), and/or perform duties in certain geographic locations.  

Military pay is reviewed and increased each year, and your final paycheck will also include additional bonuses, tax-free allowances, and special pay.

Comparing Air Force Pay to Other Military Branches

When it comes to the basic pay ranges, all military branches, such as the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Space Force, Air Force, and Marine Corps, pay the same. Pay is based on years of service and pay grade (or rank) in each Military branch. The benefits in all U.S. Military branches are also quite similar.

One way in which military branches may differ is through enlistment bonuses. Military branches offer signing bonuses to attract particularly skilled and/or qualified candidates and to retain active-duty service personnel. Bonuses can change frequently, but the Air Force, Navy, and Army usually offer enlistment bonuses of as high as $50,000, while Marine Corps bonuses are usually around $8,000.

Factors Affecting Air Force Pay

Basic pay varies depending on your rank and the number of years in service. For example, in 2024, an enlisted E-1 (aka, an Army Private or Air Force Airman Basic) service member will receive a basic pay of $2,017 per month, while an officer with an O-4 (aka, an Army or Air Force Major) pay grade with ten years of experience will receive a basic pay of $8,684.10 per month.

Basic pay is the primary compensation for a service member, but the paycheck will also include special pay and tax-free allowances. Most allowances are non-taxable, including the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH).

Military pay also increases automatically at the start of each year. The increase in Air Force pay is determined by the year-over-year change in the Employment Cost Index (ECI). A service member’s pay increases annually to mirror the increase in private-sector salaries and wages nationwide.

Resources To Learn More About Air Force Pay 

If you’re considering a career in the Air Force, we recommend learning more about Air Force pay, the components of your pay, and how much you will be eligible to receive as an enlistment bonus.

If you’re already in the Air Force, you can find details about your deductions, tax withholding, allotments, leaves, and more from your Leave and Earning Statement (LES). You can stay updated about changes in Air Force pay through the Defense Finance and Account Service (DFAS) or the Military Compensation website of the Department of Defense (DOD).