What Is the Pay Scale for the Air Force?

Air Force pilots hold officer rank and receive salary depending on rank and time in service.

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service publishes the pay scale for the Air Force. The pay scale shows the monthly pay rate for each enlisted and officer rank in the Air Force along with other important pay information such as allowances, cost of living adjustments and an annual pay raise approved by the U.S. Congress.

Air Force Officers

Commissioned officers in the Air Force hold rank, which also corresponds to a particular pay grade. The Air Force pay scale starts at O-1 for 2nd lieutenants and caps at O-10 for 4-star generals. According to the Air Force pay scale, officer salaries range from $2,784 a month for a new 2nd lieutenant with less than two years of military service and up to $15,400.80 for a four-star Air Force general with more than 20 years of service.

Enlisted Personnel

Similarly, enlisted personnel serving in the Air Force receive monthly pay according to rank and corresponding pay grade. The Air Force pay scale ranges from E-1 to E-9 depending on rank. For example, a new enlisted member of the Air Force holds the rank of airman basic, which corresponds to the E-1 pay grade. According to the pay scale, an E-1 in the Air Force receives $1,357.20 per month during the first four months of service. Pay for an airman basic increases to $1,467.60 after four months. For comparison, a senior enlisted member of the Air Force in the rank of Command Chief Master Sergeant corresponds to the E-9 pay grade and receives $5436.60 monthly after 20 years of service.

Housing and Subsistence

Officers and enlisted members of the Air Force receive housing and subsistence allowances to help cover the cost of civilian housing. The value of the housing allowance depends on the rank and pay grade of the Air Force service member. The allowance increases if the service member has dependents including a spouse and children. For example, the 2011 Air Force pay scale shows a staff sergeant in the E-5 pay grade with dependents receives a standard monthly housing allowance of $799.20. For comparison, an Air Force captain with dependents receives a standard housing allowance of $1,094.40 every month.

Cost of Living

The Air Force provides a cost of living allowance to service members assigned to geographic locations with a high cost of living. The purpose of the allowance is to preserve the purchasing power of Air Force salaries in relation to the average price level in the United States. For example, Air Force personnel stationed in Hawaii receive a cost of living allowance because of the high price level in Hawaii relative to the national U.S. price level.

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