The Air Force provides signing bonuses to individuals who enlist as a way to gain talented individuals in areas where they need them the most.
Bonuses can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over $50,000 in an individual year.
The USAF offers these bonuses during initial enlistment or reenlistment.
Bonuses change frequently based on the needs of the Air Force.
To get an idea of what bonuses are currently available in the Air Force, OMK spoke directly with an Air Force recruiter.
Current bonus options include:
- Retention Bonus
- Airborne/Land Based Linguist & EOD
- In-Demand Career Bonus
- Tuition Assistance Bonus
- Aviation Bonus
Continue reading for more information on each bonus listed above.
Related Article: Air Force Pilot Requirements
Table of Contents
1. Retention Bonus
The Air Force has announced its retention bonus program for the fiscal year 2023.
The USAF Selective Retention Bonus (SRB) is offered to 51 different Air Force specialties this year.
This decision was made to retain individuals in areas that are considered undermanned.
The hope is to keep individuals in those positions who have experience, versus bringing in new recruits.
Individuals who qualify will receive a monetary incentive to remain on active duty.
Airman must re-enlist into the specialty they are currently in and must serve in that specialty for the duration of that enlistment period.
Reenlistment must be done at their home station and can be conducted by any officer.
The amount of the bonuses is based on the AFSC.
The SRB is based on a calculation of one month’s salary multiplied by the number of years of reenlistment times a multiplier for the career/years of service.
The maximum amount authorized is $100,000.00 per zone, with a lifetime cap of $360,000.
2. Airborne/Land Based Linguist & EOD
Airborne/Land Based Linguist and EOD specialties are in high demand.
These career fields require intensive training and have high-risk job functions.
To retain highly qualified individuals in these specialties, the Air Force has offered Selective Reenlistment Bonuses for Airborne and Ground Cryptologic Language Analyst positions in Chinese, Russian, and Persian in 2023.
The bonus amounts vary between language and experience.
Other AFSCs offering an SRB include loadmasters for HC-130J and MC-130J.
Other fields eligible for the 2023 Reenlistment Bonus include Cyber Warfare Operations, Command and Control Operations, and Command and Control Battle Management Ops.
Cyber Defense positions including Systems Operations, Security Operations, Software Development Operations, and Cyber Intelligence – Analysts are also eligible for the 2023 SRB.
Aircraft and Missile and Space Systems Maintenance positions also offer a reenlistment bonus, as well as the chronically under-manned EOD field.
Several medical positions also offer an SRB for 2023, including Mental Health Services, Allergy/Immunization Technicians, Diagnostic Imaging, and Flight and Operational Medical Technician slots.
You can find the exact amount available for these by logging into the USAF Personnel Center.
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3. In-Demand Career Bonus
The below career fields may currently offer bonuses, but check with your recruiter as the needs for the Air Force can change.
Bonuses will be offered for those who enlist in these in-demand positions.
The list below includes career-specific bonuses that may be available.
- Combat Controller
- TACP- Tactical Air Control Party
- PJ- Pararescue
- Special Reconnaissance
- SERE- Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE)
- EOD- Explosive Ordnance Disposal
- Airborne Linguist
- Crypto Linguist
- Cyber Systems Operations
- Cyber Defense Operations
- Mobility Air Forces Integrated Instrument and Flight Control Systems
- Aerospace Ground Equipment
- Munitions Systems
- Aircraft Armament Systems
- Nuclear Weapons
- Water and Fuel Systems Maintenance
These bonuses are subject to change as in-demand needs are met.
Bonus amounts vary between career fields based on Air Force needs.
4. Student Loan Repayment Bonus
If you join the Air Force, there are Student Loan Repayment options and the Enlisted Incentive Program.
These programs assist with tuition after a certain amount of time as an enlisted or reserve Air Force member.
The opportunities mentioned above are programs offered after enlistment, not bonuses that encourage enlisting.
The Student Loan Repayment Program is a bonus that individuals take advantage of upon enlisting and receive the benefits upon each successful year completed.
The current program has been expanded to offer up to a total of $65,000 from the previous cap of $10,000.
5. Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP)
This Air Force Reserve Repayment Program will assist with student loan repayment for every year that an individual joins the Air Force Reserves.
Individuals must join the Air Force Reserve component into one of the Air Force Reserve Enlisted Master Incentive Listings with Critical Shortage.
You are required to enlist for a minimum of six years in one of the critical AFSCs and complete all required training.
For each year of service, the Air Force will send a one-time payment directly to the institution with which your loan is arranged.
The amount of the payment is 15% of the outstanding balance or $500 per qualifying loan, whichever is greater, up to $3,500 a year.
The maximum amount that any individual can receive over the lifetime of the program is $20,000.
This benefit is available to any new or prior service members who have a Federal guaranteed loan.
The payment is given on the anniversary date upon completion of a successful year.
This program can only be combined with one other tuition assistance program out of the three, (Enlisted Incentive Program, MGIB-SR, and SLRP).
Related Article: Air Force Reserve Benefits
6. Rated Officer Retention Demonstration Program
The information below includes the 2023 FY Bonuses.
Retaining talented aviation experts is an issue that all branches of service have.
The USAF offers aviation bonuses on a tiered basis. Pilots must extend their contracts for an additional 3 to 12 years of service.
The following aviators are qualified for a bonus:
Fighter, bomber, mobility, search-and-rescue, high-altitude U-2 reconnaissance pilots, and special operations pilots:
- A four-year contract offers $35,000 in annual bonus pay each year, a total of $140,000.
- A five to seven contract offers $42,500 per year, between $212,500 and $297,500.
- A contract for 8 to 12 years earns $50,000 in annual bonuses, or $400,000 to $600,000 in all.
Command-and-control and intelligence aircraft pilots:
- Contracts of 4 to 12 years offer $35,000 per annum, totaling $140,000 to $420,000.
Lump Sum Aviation Incentives
Pilots who contract for 5 to 7 additional years can receive the first $100,000 in an upfront lump sum.
For those willing to contract 8 to 12 years, the advance lump sum payment is $200,000.
Base of Preference Incentives
The USAF is also offering pilots their base of preference for adding 2 to 4 years to their contracts.
More information is available here.
The Air Force provides bonus opportunities for various reasons.
Bonuses are provided as a means of not only gaining talent but retaining talent.
It is no secret that keeping someone in a high-demand area such as a Linguist, EOD, or Pilot is not an easy task.
Providing bonuses and college loan repayment opportunities helps the Air Force ensure they have all of their positions full when they need it the most.
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