How Much Money Do You Make In The Air Force?
So how much money do you make in the Air Force? I used to always tell my recruits that if you are joining the Air Force with the hopes to make millions then you are joining for the wrong reasons.
With that being said, the opportunity to become successful and wealthy is as much an opportunity for you as it is for anyone. You’re not going to get there from your paycheck alone, but with some education, creativity, determination and luck, the world of wealth is just as accessible to an Airman as it is to every other person.
The paycheck the Air Force gives you isn’t so bad either!
The money you make in the Air Force comes in different names and clothing if you will. I will attempt to explain all the different ways you make money in the Air Force.
The First Way You Make Money In the Air Force Is Your Basic Pay.
This is your main monthly salary and is based on your rank. For example in 2012 an E-1 Airman Basic will come in making about 1400 a month. The thing the progression from E-1 to E-3 is so fast that most people who join the Air Force are E-3 by the time they arrive at their first duty station.
An E-3 with less than 2 years in the Air Force will make about $1750 a month. That may not impress a lot of people but for your average 17 year old or even 23 year old that is pretty good money. If you want to look at the pay chart you can visit this link.
Hold on though, because you actually make more money than that in the Air Force.
A normal civilian would have to live off of that income and figure out how to live. Whereas the average Amn only worries about what new truck there going to buy and what size rims there going to get on it.
How is this possible?
Simple, because just about everything else is already paid for.
The Second Way You Make Money In The Air Force Is Your Free Housing or BAH
If you are single, you will more than likely live in a dorm room. Imagine a Studio apt and you will get the idea of your living accommodations. The Air Force is constantly upgrading their facilities and making improvements on quality of life issues. Your dorm room comes fully furnished and you are able to decorate it as you wish (in good taste, ie no racist posters, pornography etc).
You have your own room, kitchen and basically everything you need for FREE! So that $1750 is still just spending money.
Did I mention that you do not pay for electric, gas or water? Yes that means you can run your AC all summer and your heat all winter and never worry about a bill.
There are two options, for those not living in the Air Force dormitories.
- You can live in base housing
- You can live off base in the community
If you decide to live in Air Force base housing, then just like the dorm room scenario everything is free. Yes gas, electric all that.
Just think, Dorm room = nice Apt complex, Base Housing = gated neighborhood community.
You don’t even have to pay for repairs! If your garbage disposal breaks, they come fix it. If your power doesn’t work, they come fix it. If your new 60” TV goes out…… no they don’t fix that, go buy another.
Now if you live off base you will receive extra money every month to help pay for the rent. This pay is called BAH Basic Allowance for Housing. The amount of BAH you get depends on your rank and where the base is located.
So for example an E-7 MSgt stationed at Moody AFB in Valdosta GA could receive less than an E-3 A1C stationed in Hawaii.
For the right person, you can actually make extra money by living off base if you can find rent that is less than your BAH.
Also you don’t necessarily have to have a family in order to live in base housing or off base. Many young Airmen I know opt to rent out a house with a buddy or two and literally make a fortune on the pocketed housing money.
For example Airman A, B, and C each will receive $800 a month if they move off base. They go on craigslist and find a nice 3 bedroom home with a hot tub and a swimming pool (you know for exercise and relaxation) for $1100 a month.
You get the picture.
So you have about $1750 a month and you have a place to live. What else does one need in order to live? Oh yeah food!
The Third Way You Make Money In The Air Force is BAS Basic Allowance For Sustenance (lunch money).
The amount of money you make for BAS is determined by the Govt. The rate is about $350 a month for enlisted and $240 for an Officer (enlisted folks eat more ). Also BAS is tax free as well. You can click here to get a good idea of what your pay will be.
If you live in the dorms you do not get this money, instead you get to eat for free in the Air Force Dining Facilities (DFAC). I will be the first to tell you that the rumors you hear about chow hall slop are far from true. It may not be momma’s home cooking but it’s far from slop.
The Dining Facilities actually compete every year for an award, so they are always striving to make things tastier and more efficient.
The typical DFAC will have a beautiful salad bar, pizza station, burgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, sub sandwiches and that’s just the fast food line. You also have things like spaghetti, steak, ribs, chicken, and all the fixins on the traditional dinner side.
And then you have your array of desserts, drinks and fruits. I’m probably leaving stuff out because there is just so much and yes it is all FREE!
So now you get a pay check (Basic Pay), You get a place to live (BAH) and you get fed (BAS or DFAC).
What more do you need?
Ahh you like to go out shopping and enjoy recreational activities. Yep the Air Force helps with that too.
The Fourth Way You Make Money Is The Air Force Is Through Discounts.
You have all the recreational facilities and shopping on base such as the BX, Commissary, Bowling Alley Golf Course etc. You also can receive discounts for things off base.
Let’s start with on base.
The BX is basically a military version of Target (the old one before they started selling groceries). Whether you want a new pair of shoes or a laptop you will find it at the BX and it is tax free. The commissary is a full grocery store and the meat is normally at least 25% cheaper than you will find off base.
The one thing I don’t like about the Commissary is that the baggers work for tips and they always carry your groceries to the car. I don’t want to be a jerk, but man I can carry my own groceries. Oh well some people like that sort of thing.
Also there are tons of recreational things to do on base and it is also very reasonably priced. Whether you want to play golf or take golf lessons you can do it. If you want to go bowling, it’s there. Take a deep sea fishing trip, depending on where you live, no problem!
If you want to participate in off base activities you can also receive military discounts.
Normally you will receive military discounts at movie theaters, clothing stores, restaurants, auto service centers (which are also available on base for cheap), and theme parks just to name a few.
I don’t remember the last time I paid full price to go to Disney World, Sea World or any theme park. Here’s a picture from our recent trip to Sesame Place in Pennsylvania. Yes my huge family all got in FREE!
The Fifth Way You Make Money In The Air Force, Free Medical Care
If your 18 years old and bullet proof you may not see the immediate value in this but if you or your loved ones have ever experienced mounting medical bills due to some unforeseen medical problem than you know the value in having free medical care.
The free medical benefits in the Air Force is so valuable that people actually join the Air Force just for the medical benefits.
It doesn’t matter if you break your femur or if you have a headache, you are covered 100% as long as it was not due to negligence. You have no idea how much free 800mg Motrin I have in my medicine cabinet courtesy of the Air Force.
From free prescriptions medication to full blown surgery you are covered.
Any idea how much it would cost to get treatment for a broken arm, how about depression, or better yet how much would it cost to remove your gall bladder.
Then try to calculate how many paychecks (that you get to keep in your pocket) that it would take to pay for it.
The Sixth Way You Make Money In The Air Force Is Through Free Education.
Tuition assistance currently pays up to 100% of your tuition. There is a cap though. Currently it is $250 per semester hour up to $4500 per year. The Air Force also does everything they can to make it convenient for you to utilize your education benefits as well.
You can take classes on-line, they offer classes from well known colleges on base (even overseas and in deployed locations like Iraq) or you can go to college at a nearby institution.
I have bachelors, associates, and more professional certifications than I can count. All Free!
The Montgomery GI bill is another great source of money for education and one that I plan to use to help pay for my kids education. You can also use it for your spouse’s education.
The Seventh Way You Make Money In The Air Force Is Your Air Force Retirement Pay.
This one here is the golden nugget. This is so unique that civilian organizations can’t touch it. Basically you work for 20 years and you get a pay check for the rest of your life.
How many organizations offer that?
So if you join when your 17, when you turn 37 you can retire and get a paycheck every month for the REST OF YOUR LIFE.
Without splitting hairs, you basically get half of what the average of your last 3 years of your base pay was.
So let’s say year 17 I made $3100 a month, year 18 $3150, and year 19 $3250. Thats an average of $3166. Half of that which is $1583 is what you get for the REST OF YOUR LIFE!
Doesn’t sound like much huh? (did I mention REST OF YOUR LIFE!) You wouldn’t believe the number of old guys who tell me they wish they would’ve finished 20 so they could be getting that paycheck right now.
There are so many other ways you make money in the Air Force depending on your situation. I am not going to bore you in great detail with all of them though.
Couple Of Important Things To Mention About Making Money In The Air Force.
Your BAH and BAS is tax free. This means that you don’t pay any tax on it. So at the end the year when you file taxes, which oh by the way is also free if you so choose it to be, you are only taxed on your base pay.
Another thing is that every year that I have been in we have gotten a raise. They may not always be as much as we would like, sometimes they are better than we expect but without fail we have always gotten a raise. Not only do you normally get a raise in your base pay but also your BAH as well.
Real Quick Then I’ll Shut Up. Here is a quick list of additional ways you make money in the Air Force.
If you have any questions about any of these items just leave a comment below and I will either answer your question, or write up a post about it.
- Cost of living allowance (COLA)
- Essential Station Messing (ESM)
- Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance (FSSA)
- Family Separation Allowance (FSA)
- Hardship Duty Pay (HDP)
- Hostile Fire Pay/Imminent danger pay
- Per Diem when TDY
- Travel Reimbursements
- Special Duty Pays
- Hazardous Duty Pays
- Montgomery GI Bill
- Innovative Development Through Employee Awareness (IDEA)
- Legal Assistance
- VA Home Loans
- Small Business Loans
- Space Available Travel (free plane rides)
That’s all I got for you on this topic unless you can think of something I didn’t mention. If so just post a comment and I’ll be sure to reply.
Talk to you later.
Click here for a cool tool that will give you a snap shot of how much money you will make in the Air Force