Best Paying Air Force Jobs

Updated on February 8, 2024

The Air Force offers a variety of high-paying careers that are critical to the defense and operational efficiency of the military. These roles not only provide financial rewards but also offer the opportunity to engage in meaningful and impactful work. Here’s a look at some of the top-paying jobs within the Air Force, highlighting their responsibilities and the education required to pursue them.

Aircraft Maintenance Officer

  • Average Salary: Between $87,000 and $97,000 annually
  • Job Description: Responsible for overseeing the maintenance, repair, and inspection of all Air Force aircraft.
  • Responsibilities: Ensure aircraft are safe, reliable, and ready for operation. Oversee teams of maintenance personnel.
  • Required Education: Broad knowledge and experience in aviation, typically obtained through a relevant degree and Air Force training.


  • Average Salary: Ranges from $97,000 to $150,000 annually
  • Job Description: Operate various types of Air Force aircraft, including fighters, bombers, and cargo planes.
  • Responsibilities: Conduct flight missions, maintain proficiency in aircraft operation, and ensure mission objectives are met.
  • Required Education: Rigorous training as an Air Force pilot, which may not necessarily require a bachelor’s degree but involves extensive flight training.

Air Traffic Controller

  • Average Salary: Between $90,000 and $110,000 annually
  • Job Description: Manage the movement of aircraft on the ground and in the airspace to ensure safe operations.
  • Responsibilities: Direct aircraft during takeoff, landing, and taxiing; monitor aircraft in flight; provide pilots with vital information.
  • Required Education: Training from an Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative program and completion of Federal Air Authority Academy Course.

Aerospace Engineer

  • Average Salary: Between $72,000 and $95,000 annually
  • Job Description: Design, develop, and test aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles, ensuring they meet mission requirements.
  • Responsibilities: Oversee the development of new aerospace technologies and systems, conduct testing and evaluations.
  • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or a related field.

Intelligence Officer

  • Average Salary: Between $68,000 and $87,000 annually
  • Job Description: Conduct intelligence operations and activities to support national security and Air Force missions.
  • Responsibilities: Gather, analyze, and disseminate intelligence information; advise commanders on intelligence matters.
  • Required Education: Degree in a relevant field, along with specialized intelligence training provided by the Air Force.

Special Operations Officer

  • Average Salary: Between $68,000 and $87,000 annually
  • Job Description: Plan and execute specialized and high-risk military operations.
  • Responsibilities: Lead special operations teams, conduct covert and overt missions, and ensure operational success.
  • Required Education: Extensive training in special operations tactics and strategies, often requiring a degree in a relevant field.

Financial Management Analyst

  • Average Salary: Approximately $106,000 annually
  • Job Description: Manage and oversee the financial operations within the Air Force, ensuring fiscal responsibility and efficiency.
  • Responsibilities: Conduct financial analysis, budgeting, auditing, and other financial management tasks.
  • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration, along with relevant experience.
  • Average Salary: Ranges from $60,000 to $220,000 annually, depending on the specific legal role
  • Job Description: Provide legal advice, representation, and support within the Air Force.
  • Responsibilities: Conduct legal research, represent the Air Force in legal matters, and ensure compliance with military laws and regulations.
  • Required Education: Law degree and passage of the Bar Exam for attorneys. Paralegals may require a high school diploma and additional certification.

Final Thoughts

Careers in the Air Force extend far beyond the cockpit, encompassing a wide range of disciplines that are essential for the force’s success and the country’s security. These high-paying jobs offer not only competitive salaries but also the chance to serve in positions of significant responsibility and honor.

Other Jobs in Public Sector and Defense


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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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