How Much Do Nurses In the Air Force Make?

Published September 19, 2022 · 4 Min Read

Military nurses with a bachelor's degree receive officer status and are eligible for military benefits. Learn about Air Force nurse salaries and how to qualify as one.

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How Much Do Nurses In the Air Force Make?
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The U.S. military has many career advantages for nurses. These benefits mirror standard military benefits: retirement after 20 years, a rewarding bonus structure, and potential funding for an advanced degree.

This guide explains how to become an Air Force nurse and what typical Air Force nurse salaries are. Keep reading for more on this nursing career option.

Average Salary for Air Force Nurses

Air Force salaries, like all military salaries, are based on rank. Nurses with a bachelor's degree are eligible to enlist as officers.

Air Force nurse salaries start at an estimated $41,720 for your first year at the second lieutenant rank, but increase considerably to $72,510 (including a $20K retention bonus) for a four-year second lieutenant rank.

The Air Force nurse salaries are transparent. Once you know your rank, and you can see the 2022 salaries by rank and 2022 bonus schedule online.

$72,510
Annual Salary
Source: Four-Year Second Lieutenant plus
Four-Year Retention Bonus

$4,380
Monthly Salary
Source: Four-Year Second Lieutenant

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3 Ways to Increase Pay As an Air Force Nurse

If you would like to earn more than the basic Air Force nurse salary, you can earn a specialization, a graduate degree, or pursue retention bonuses and other incentive pay.

Unlike within many other organizations, military pay is transparent. You can fairly easily see how much the following options can add to your Air Force nurse salary.

1. Pursue Air Force Nurse Specializations

The Air Force urgently needs certain specializations. While some require earning an advanced degree, others — such as mental health and flight nursing — require only a bachelor's degree. Bonuses increase over time; the flight nurse six-year bonus is $35,000.

2. Earn Your MSN to Become an APRN Air Force Nurse

You can also qualify for bonuses by earning a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctor of nursing science (DNS) and becoming an advanced practice nurse. Nurse anesthetists qualify for a $15,000 bonus their first year and up to $60,000 for their sixth year.

You may be eligible for a military scholarship to help you pay for your degree.

3. Earn Retention Bonuses and Incentive Pay

Air Force nurse salaries increase significantly over time with retention bonuses and incentive pay. You can earn retention bonuses for each year of service you complete. You can also get incentive pay through earning additional qualifications, committing to an additional period of service, or taking on specific assignments.

Frequently Asked Questions About Air Force Nurse Salaries


What rank do air force nurses enlist at?

Licensed nurses are eligible to enlist as officers, often as second lieutenants. This places Air Force nurse salaries at the O-1 pay grade or higher as their rank increases.

How do Air Force nurse earnings increase by years of service?

Air Force nurse salaries increase according to their rank. At the O-1 level, for example, monthly salary increases from $3,477 during the first two years to $3,620 the second year, and $4,376 the third year. Nurses are also eligible for retention bonuses.

Which nursing specializations receive the highest retention bonuses in the Air Force?

The highest retention bonuses are for nurse anesthetists. In addition to their Air Force nurse salary, their six-year retention bonus is $60,000. For mental health nurse practitioners, the six-year bonus is $40,000. Other nursing specialties are eligible for $35,000 retention bonuses.

How long is an Air Force nurse contract?

The typical contract is for four years. This contract often comes with an accession bonus of up to $30,000. A three-year contract may also be eligible for a bonus of up to $20,000. Critical care nurses may receive bonuses of up to $100,000 and nurse anesthetists bonuses of up to $250,000, in addition to the Air Force nurse salary.


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