Flight surgeons help keep active duty members of the military healthy on and off the battlefield. Flight surgeons are highly educated and trained to make key decisions in pressure situations, and they may be stationed nearly anywhere in the world. These specialized doctors may be exposed to life-and-death situations compounded by the threat of war. As a result, starting pay for flight surgeons can be higher than standard medical doctors.
Flight surgeons are responsible for the overall health of pilots, flight crew members and related personnel. Their primary charge is to keep everyone on active flight status, whenever possible. For example, a flight surgeon assigned to a Naval aviation squadron may oversee a small staff and perform medical procedures, administer prescriptions and provide emergency health care for fighter pilots and their crew.
Low Salary Range Factors
The salary range for flight surgeons can vary somewhat. Among the primary influencing factors are rank and years of service. A lower-end salary for a flight surgeon with an O3 rank of captain can start at $72,468, according to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. Doctors generally start their military career as captains.
High Salary Range Factors
The pay at the higher end of the salary range for flight surgeons can be much better. The increasing factors consist of higher rank, seniority and special pay. Special pay is available to health professional officers and can be substantial. For example, flight surgeons with an O4 rank of major specializing in cardiology with three years of service -- and who qualify for Variable, Board Certified Special Pay -- may receive an annual salary of $130,000 or more.
Job and Salary Forecast
The job market outlook for flight surgeons is expected to remain constant from 2008 to 2018. Employment for flight surgeons may increase based on military conflicts overseas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Flight surgeons can enhance the demand for their services by gaining experience at notable medical schools and achieving relevant specializations such as radiology.