Military Pilots


Employment Prospects


Military pilots are employed by the U.S. government. Nearly 1.3 million active duty personnel served in the armed forces as of June 2019, with 468,783 individuals serving in the Army; 330,949 in the Navy; 327,039 in the Air Force; 186,814 in the Marine Corps; and 41,250 in the Coast Guard.

Starting Out

Once you've decided to become a military pilot, you should contact a military recruiter. The recruiter will help answer questions and suggest different options. To start out in any branch of the military, you must pass medical and physical tests, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery exam, and basic training. You must also sign an enlistment contract. This is a legal agreement that will bind you to a certain amount of military service, usually eight years. Active duty comprises two to six years of this agreement, and the remainder is normally spent in the reserves.

Advancement Prospects

Each military branch has 10 officers' grades (O-1 through O-10). The higher the number is, the more advanced a person's rank is. The various branches of the military have somewhat different criteria for promoting individuals; in general, however, promotions depend on factors such as length of time served, demonstrated abilities, recommendations, and scores on written exams. Promotions become more and more competitive as people advance in rank.

Military pilots may train for different aircraft and missions. A general advancement path for a military pilot would be from pilot, to senior pilot, to flight leader, to command pilot. Eventually, they may advance to senior officer or command positions. Military pilots with superior skills and training may advance to the position of astronaut. Astronauts pilot spacecraft on scientific and defense-related missions.

Tips for Entry

Read Futures Magazine ( to learn more about the military.

Visit for links to a variety of publications published by the armed forces.

Talk to a military recruiter about career opportunities.

Visit to learn more about career paths in the military.