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How to Be a Navy Officer & Fighter Pilot

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To become a Navy fighter pilot requires you to complete a process to end up among the best pilots in the world. All naval pilots are officers, so the first step will be to get an officer's commission. With a commissioning source secured, you will start to compete for the coveted acceptance to pilot training and eventually to advanced fighter pilot training.

Navy Officer Commissioning Sources

The basic requirement to become a Navy officer is a four-year college degree. The U.S. Naval Academy and Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarships pay for the degree, provide training to become an officer while you are in school and result in an officer's commission when you graduate. Taking the Naval Academy or NROTC path allows you to accomplish the additional steps you must complete to get into Navy pilot training. If you have a four-year degree, you can enlist in the Navy and attend Officer Candidate School to get the officer's commission. With the OCS commissioning path, you should prepare for the flight school qualifications before joining the Navy.

Getting a Pilot Slot

During the final year of college at the Academy or with NROTC, you will submit your career preferences and complete the requirements to compete for a Navy pilot training assignment. You will take the Aviation Selection Test Battery to show your aptitude to become a pilot. The Navy uses your indicated preference to become a pilot, your ATSB scores and your college GPA to rank the officer candidates who want to go to pilot training. The available training slots are filled with the top candidates. You also must pass a flight qualification physical exam to be accepted to attend Navy flight school.

Flight School: The Competition Continues

In flight school you will go through ground training and primary flight training. During this phase you learn the basics of military aircraft flying and you will be in competition with your flight school classmates for your follow on training in specific types of aircraft. To become a Navy fighter pilot, you must be selected for follow on strike aircraft training at the completion of primary flight training. To be chosen to fly fighters you must both tell the Navy you want fighters and show that you have the flight skills and aptitude to handle flying the most advanced aircraft in the world.

Preparation Steps

The largest challenge to becoming a Navy fighter pilot will be to get selected for flight training. Applying for and being accepted to the Naval Academy gives you better odds than going the ROTC route. However, it is very possible to get to flight school from any commissioning source if you score well as a pilot candidate. You should focus your studies on the math and other skills that will allow you to score well on the ASTB. Available study guides show the types of knowledge the Navy wants in its pilots.


Tim Plaehn has been writing financial, investment and trading articles and blogs since 2007. His work has appeared online at Seeking Alpha, and various other websites. Plaehn has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

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