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The salary of a military pilot depends primarily on his current rank and how many years he has been in the service. The military uses a very structured pay schedule that provide a pay increase with each promotion and periodic increases within each rank. Rated -- military speak for qualified to fly -- aviators also receive an extra amount of pay as an incentive to remain in the service and not "jump ship" to go fly for the airlines.
Officer Ranks and Promotion Periods
Officer ranks are abbreviated as O-1 through O-10. For the Air Force, Army and Marines, the names of the first six ranks are second lieutenant, first lieutenant, captain, major, lieutenant colonel and colonel. The Navy calls these ranks ensign, lieutenant junior grade, lieutenant, lieutenant commander, commander, and captain. O-7 though O-10 are generals and admirals. A pilot can typically remain as a front-line aviator up through O-5. Officers ranked O-6 and above have command duties, and while the may retain their wings, flying will not be a primary duty.
Base Pay Scales
Using the pay scales and the time in the service when an officer would usually be promoted to the next rank, here are the base pay rates for officer ranks O-1 through O-5 in 2013. O-1: $33,941. O-2: $44,536 to $51,293. O-3: $60,372 to $68,496. O-4: $72,094 to $85,943. O-5: $81,191 to $101,354.
Aviation Incentive Pay
Military pilots also receive what they call flight pay and the military refers to as aviation career incentive pay. This extra pay starts at $125 per month for a second lieutenant and tops out at $840 for an aviator with more than 14 years of flight status. The amount of flight pay starts to taper off at 22 years of flight status service. Pilot officers who do not have a military commitment -- which means they can leave the service at any time -- may be paid up to an additional $25,000 per year under the Aviation Continuation Pay program.
Additional Pay and Allowance
Military members including pilot officers can receive additional pay and allowances, depending on duty assignments and other considerations. Some additional types of pay include housing allowances, temporary duty pay and hazardous duty pay. These additional forms of income can add from a few hundred to several thousand dollars to a pilot's monthly wages.
Tim Plaehn has been writing financial, investment and trading articles and blogs since 2007. His work has appeared online at Seeking Alpha, Marketwatch.com and various other websites. Plaehn has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the U.S. Air Force Academy.
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