The United States Air Force is the aerial and space warfare branch of the US Military.

Their core missions include:

  • Air And Space Superiority
  • Global Integrated ISR
  • Rapid Global Mobility
  • Global Strike
  • Command And Control

Requirements To Join

Below is a handy chart on the height and weight requirements to join the United States Air Force.

Height (Inches)Max Weight (lbs)Min. Weight (lbs.)
5813191
5913694
6014197
61145100
62150104
63155107
64160110
65165114
66170117
67175121
68180125
69186128
70191132
71197136
72202140
73208144
74214148
75220152
76225156
77231160
78237164
79244168
80250173

Keep in mind that these are the requirements for everyone joining the Air Force, whether you’re officer or enlisted.

The height and weight requirements are also exactly the same for both men and women.

Pilot Height And Weight Requirements

With that said, specific jobs in the Air Force have their own requirements.

For example, all pilot candidates must meet the following:

  • Must be no less than 62 inches short, and 77 inches tall when standing.
  • Must be 34 – 40 inches tall when sitting.
  • Must weight no less than 160 lbs. and no more than 231 lbs.

There are also specific height and weight requirements for specific air frames, which will be discussed at your pilot training.

Before you visit your local recruiter, be sure you meet the minimum qualifications for serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Age Requirements

Like the other branches of the military, the minimum and maximum age you can join the Air Force will depend on which career path you take.

  • Enlisted:  The minimum age to join as an enlisted is 17, and the maximum age is 39.
  • Officer: The minimum age to join as an officer is 18, and the maximum age is 39.

Exceptions are made for those with healthcare experience and prior military enlistment, and requires a waiver.

In this scenario, the minimum age is 18 and the maximum age is 48.

Pilot Age Requirements

Just like with the height and weight requirements, there are different age limitations for pilots.

While the minimum age for pilots is 18, it’s very uncommon for a pilot to be that young.

The average age for Air Force pilots entering flight school is around 23 years old.

Before earning a slot at Undergraduate Pilot Training (aka UPT), the candidate must first meet with a selection board.

This board will determine whether or not you’re competitive enough for a slot in UPT, and must be conducted before you reach 28 1/2 years of age.

You must also be enrolled in UPT before the age of 30.

With that said, age waivers are available for potential pilots up to the age of 35.

I realize all of this might be a little confusing, so here’s a handy chart which sums it all up in general:

 Age (Min. - Max)Weight (Min. - Max)Height (Min. - Max)Sitting Height (Min. - Max.)
Officer (non-pilot)18 - 39 yrs. old91 - 250 lbs.58 - 80 inchesN/A
Enlisted (non-pilot)17 - 39 yrs. old91 - 250 lbs.58 - 80 inchesN/A
Pilot / Navigator18 - 28 1/2 yrs. old *160 - 231 lbs.62 - 77 inches34 - 40 inches

* Age waivers up to 35 years old

General Requirements

Some qualifications are required by all five services, including the Air Force:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien.
  • You must be at least 17 years old (17-year old applicants require parental consent) to apply and in BMT before your 28th birthday.
  • You must (with very few exceptions) have a high school diploma or meet the ASVAB qualifications to apply with a GED.
  • You must pass a physical medical exam.
  • Must meet specific scoring requirements on the ASVAB

Sign Up Process

The sign up process varies for both enlisted and officers.  You can expect the following path with each:

Enlisted Process

  • Before you enlist, you must take the ASVAB.  Details on what that entails here.
  • Physical and Mental Screening:  After you’ve taken the ASVAB, your recruiter will make an appointment for you at a nearby Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS).
  • Once you’ve been processed through MEPS, you’ll go into the Delayed Entry Program (DEP).  This means you’ll be waiting for a departure dates for boot camp.

Officer Process

There are actually 3 ways to enter the Air Force as an officer.  They include:

  1. Attend Officer Training School (OTS) after getting your college degree
  2. Attend and graduate from the US Air Force Academy
  3. Join ROTC in College (contingent on your university / a nearby university having an ROTC program)

The only other path to becoming an officer in the US Air Force is by enlisting and working towards a path of becoming an officer.

Each process will be explained below:

Officer Route #1: Officer Training School (OTS)

Image: Af.mil

OTS is a 9 1/2 week program that is broken down into 4 phases:

Phase 1 – Indoc

In this phase, you’ll be indoctrinated into the Air Force lifestyle.  Course work / Training include things like:

  • Blue-Line ceremony
  • In-Processing
  • Uniform purchase
  • Dorm Instruction
  • Confidence Course

You’ll also learn the Airmans creed, get academically orientated, and learn military customs and courtesies.

Phase 2 – Development

In Phase 2, you’ll develop an understanding the fundamentals of leadership, military management, and arms handling.

You’ll learn things like:

  • Problem solving skills
  • Hand to hand combat
  • M-9 Weapons Qualifications

You’ll also learn how to conduct military briefings, military law, and standards and accountability.

Phase 3 – Practical Application

In this phase, you’ll learn how to put all of the training you received from Phases 1 and 2 together.

Phase 3 is more of a practical application of your skills vs. learning new things.

However, you will learn things like:

  • Small unit tactics
  • Base defense field exercises
  • Preparation for the arrival of the lower class

Some of the academic coursework in Phase 3 includes things like group dynamics, advocacy briefing measurement, and air and space system capabilities.

Phase 4 – Transition

The final phase of OTS is known as Phase 4.  It involves transitioning you from the training environment into the active duty Air Force.

Some of the training and academic coursework include things like:

  • Air Expeditionary Force Exercise
  • First officer assignment
  • Oath of office

It all culminates with your successful completion and graduation from the Air Force OTS.

Officer Route #2: Attend The US Air Force Academy

us air force academy recruits
Image credit: www.usafa.af.mil

This route is significantly more difficult than the other methods described on this page.

Out of the nearly 12,000 applicants that the Air Force academy receives each year, only about 1,000 are accepted.

This may sound like a decent ratio / chance to get in, but to even just apply to the academy you have to:

  1. Meet the basic requirements: You must be an Unmarried US Citizen, at least 17 but not past your 23rd birthday by Jul 1 of the year you enter the academy.
  2. Complete and submit a pre-candidate questionnaire. 
  3.  Get a nomination from a qualified nominating authority.  Nominating authorities include Congressional, Vice presidential, and military affiliated.

Here’s a few statistics from 2017 to show you how difficult it can be:

air force academy applicant statistics for 2017

To be considered “competitive”, you should expect the following average academic scores:

Average SAT Scores

  • SAT Verbal:  642
  • SAT Math: 669

Average ACT Scores

  • ACT English: 30.0
  • ACT Reading: 30.4
  • ACT Math: 30.3
  • ACT Science Reasoning: 29.8

To learn more about how to apply to the US Air Force Academy, visit their official recruiting site here.

Officer Route #3: Join ROTC In College

Image: Wikimedia.org

Air Force ROTC is offered at over 1,100 colleges and Universities across the US, and is responsible for graduating the most officers than any other method discussed on this page.

One of the benefits of joining ROTC is that it affords potential candidates numerous financial scholarships and other financial incentives.

In fact, many students can graduate college completely debt free via ROTC programs.

Applying is easy, and finding schools that have an Air Force ROTC program has never been easier.

Visit the official Air Force ROTC website here to get started on your journey.

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