Only 4 percent of Air Force personnel are pilots. It’s a highly competitive field where only the best qualified will succeed. It also involves very specific physical requirements. To get into flight school you will need a degree. However you do not need to enter the Air Force with college experience to eventually become a pilot.
All Air Force pilots are officers. Before you can be commissioned as an officer in the Air Force, you must have a college degree. If you enter the Air Force with a degree already earned, and you meet the other requirements of flight training, you may be able to fast-track your career in the direction you want.
You can enter the Air Force as enlisted personnel as long as you have a high school diploma. Once on active duty, you have several options to work toward being commissioned as an officer. The Air Force will often either pay for or give you a scholarship toward your college tuition, so pursuing your education once you are in the service can be a good option for those without the means to attend college on their own.
Preference is given to candidates who have at least some civilian flying experience. If you have your private pilot’s license, this will give you a head start. It’s also advisable to have majored in a scientific field, and engineering is preferred. You must have maintained a college GPA of at least 3.4, and 4.0 is not uncommon among pilot candidates.
Before you go further in your quest to become an Air Force pilot, you must meet the vision requirements of the job. These are very strict, and no matter how well-qualified you are otherwise, if you don’t meet them, you will not become a pilot. You must have 20/50 distance vision in each eye and 20/20 close vision. You cannot be colorblind, or have undergone laser eye surgery.
- Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images