How To Become a Fighter Pilot

by | Mar 20, 2023 | Career Advice

A fighter pilot is a highly skilled individual who specializes in operating military aircrafts. Fighter pilots typically fly either jet or propeller-driven planes, and are responsible for air-to-air combat and air-to-ground combat missions. Fighter pilots must be able to make quick decisions in high-stress situations, be proficient in evasive maneuvers and have exceptional navigational and aerodynamic knowledge. They are expected to be resourceful and act intelligently when faced with multiple threats, often making difficult decisions under intense time constraints.

Future of Fighter Pilots

As technology and warfare continue to modernize, so too must the methods used by fighter pilots. Pilots must stay apprised of the changing environment and be prepared to use the most cutting-edge tactics and equipment available in order to remain effective.

The future of fighter pilots will be of great importance as the need for enhanced military technology increases and the number of potential threats faced by the military expands. Fighter pilots must continue to stay sharp and be prepared to effectively respond to the ever-changing threats faced by our nation. 

What is the Salary for Military Fighter Pilots?

The salaries of military fighter pilots can vary depending on a variety of factors, such as the country they serve in, their rank, years of service, and specific job duties.

In the United States, for example, Air Force fighter pilots typically earn between $37,000 and $200,000 per year, depending on their rank and years of service. However, it’s worth noting that military pilots also receive a range of benefits and allowances, such as housing allowances, healthcare benefits, and education assistance, which can add significantly to their overall compensation package.

In other countries, such as the United Kingdom, fighter pilots in the Royal Air Force can earn between £33,000 and £90,000 per year, again depending on their rank and years of service.

It’s important to note that military compensation varies widely depending on individual circumstances, and military pilots may also receive bonuses or additional compensation for special skills or deployments.

How to Become a Fighter Pilot: A Step-by-Step Guide

Becoming a fighter pilot is a dream career for many. It is a highly competitive and challenging profession that requires dedication, hard work, and a passion for flying. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a fighter pilot, this guide will provide you with the necessary steps to achieve your goal.

Step 1: Meet the Eligibility Criteria

Before you can start your journey to become a fighter pilot, you must meet the eligibility criteria set by the military. These criteria include:

Qualifications and Requirements 

The first step to becoming a fighter pilot is to enlist in the military. This can be done through the United States Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard. To enlist, all branches of the military require that applicants be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma. Additionally, the military will conduct various tests, such as aptitude, physical fitness, and medical exams, to determine the applicant’s eligibility. Once enlisted, applicants will go through general military training, followed by a specialized training program that will give them a complete understanding of the aircraft they will be using. A strong academic background in mathematics, science, and aeronautics is also recommended, as these subjects are necessary to understand the complexities of operating an aircraft. Finally, all pilots must learn to communicate effectively and understand the rules of aerial engagement.

Education and Licensing

While in active military duty, pilots are expected to attend formal instructional courses, such as the Air Force Flight School and the Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor school. These programs are designed to train individuals in the operation of aircraft and navigation. Following successful completion of these courses, pilots will then be issued a pilot’s license, allowing them to operate aircraft.


You must be a citizen of the country you are applying to join the military.

Physical Fitness

You must be physically fit and meet the physical standards set by the military.

Step 2: Join the Military

To become a fighter pilot, you must join the military. You can join the military by enlisting or applying for an officer candidate program. The military offers several options for officer candidate programs, including:

  • United States Military Academy (West Point)
  • Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC)
  • Officer Candidate School (OCS)
  • Officer Training School (OTS)

Step 3: Complete Officer Candidate School (OCS) or Officer Training School (OTS)

After you have completed OCS or OTS, you must complete the Officer Candidate School program (OCS) or the Officer Training School program (OTS). These programs are designed to teach leadership, discipline, and military tactics. During the program, you will also receive a basic understanding of military aviation.

Step 4: Apply for Pilot Training

After completing OCS or OTS, you can apply for pilot training. The application process includes a series of tests and evaluations, including:

The Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT): This test measures your aptitude in areas such as verbal and mathematical reasoning, spatial awareness, and aviation knowledge.

The Test of Basic Aviation Skills (TBAS): This test assesses your cognitive abilities, spatial orientation, and multitasking skills.

Medical Examination: You must pass a medical examination to ensure you meet the physical standards required for pilot training.

Step 5: Complete Pilot Training

After passing the required tests and evaluations, you will start pilot training. The training consists of three phases:

Phase I: Initial Flight Training – This phase includes basic flight training in a single-engine aircraft.

Phase II: Advanced Flight Training – This phase includes advanced flight training in a high-performance jet aircraft.

Phase III: Mission Qualification Training – This phase focuses on the specific aircraft you will be flying and includes training in tactics, navigation, and mission planning.

Step 6: Become a Fighter Pilot

After completing pilot training, you will be assigned to a fighter squadron. As a fighter pilot, you will be responsible for flying and maintaining a high-performance aircraft. You will also be required to participate in missions that support national security objectives.


Becoming a fighter pilot is a challenging but rewarding career. It requires dedication, hard work, and a passion for flying. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can increase your chances of achieving your goal of becoming a fighter pilot. Remember, the road to becoming a fighter pilot is long and difficult, but the rewards are well worth the effort.


What are the Basic Requirements to Become a Fighter Pilot?

The requirements may vary depending on the country and military service, but generally, a candidate must have a college degree, meet physical and medical requirements, and pass aptitude and entrance tests. They may also require prior military experience, such as completing officer training or a service academy.

What Type of Degree is Required to Become a Fighter Pilot?

Most military services require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college. The degree should be in a related field such as aviation, aerospace engineering, or physics. However, some services may accept degrees in other fields as long as the candidate meets other qualifications.

What Are the Physical Requirements to Become a Fighter Pilot?

The physical requirements may vary depending on the country and military service, but generally, candidates must have excellent eyesight and be able to pass a physical fitness test. They must also meet height and weight requirements and be free from any medical conditions that could affect their performance in flight.

What Tests Do I Need to Pass to Become a Fighter Pilot?

The entrance tests will assess a candidate’s aptitude, knowledge, and skills in areas such as mathematics, science, and spatial orientation. They will also need to pass a flight aptitude test, which measures their ability to fly and navigate an aircraft.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Fighter Pilot?

The length of time to become a fighter pilot will vary depending on the country and military service. In general, it can take anywhere from 1-2 years of basic training to 2-3 years of specialized training to become a fully qualified fighter pilot.

What is the Training Like for Fighter Pilots?

The training for fighter pilots is intense and rigorous. They will undergo basic military training, followed by specialized flight training that includes classroom instruction, simulator training, and actual flight time. The training may take several years, and candidates must demonstrate proficiency in various skills and tasks.

What Are the Job Duties of a Fighter Pilot?

The job duties of a fighter pilot include flying and operating fighter aircraft, conducting air missions, and engaging in combat when necessary. They must also maintain their aircraft, follow safety procedures, and stay current with their training and qualifications.

Can Women Become Fighter Pilots?

Yes, women can become fighter pilots. Many military services have opened up combat roles to women in recent years, and female fighter pilots are becoming more common. However, there may be physical requirements that some women may not meet, such as height and weight restrictions.

What Are the Risks of Being a Fighter Pilot?

Being a fighter pilot is a high-risk job that involves flying in dangerous and potentially life-threatening situations. There is always the risk of being shot down, crashing, or experiencing mechanical failure. Pilots may also experience long-term health effects from exposure to high altitudes, G-forces, and other environmental factors.

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