How Much Do Navy Pilots Make?

Navy pilots are some of the highest-paid military personnel. They fly F/A-18 Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers, two of the most advanced aircraft in the US Navy. How much do they earn? 

How Much Do Navy Pilots Make

We have put together everything that you need to know about navy pilots, including the average salary, and the main requirements for the role.

U.S. Navy Pay and Benefits

The U.S. Navy is one of the largest branches of the United States Armed Forces. It consists of more than 300,000 active-duty personnel, as well as over 200,000 reserve members.

The U.S. Navy has a total budget of around $170 billion, making it one of the biggest spenders in the world. Its annual budget exceeds those of all other nations’ armed forces combined.

Navy pay varies depending on your rank. Enlisted sailors receive basic pay of between $1,976 and $2,742 per month. Officers can expect to make up to $3,871 per month after tax.

The higher your rank, the better the benefits will be. For example, captains get access to private housing, while commanders enjoy special perks such as free food and transportation.

Retirement benefits vary depending on your rank. However, you will receive health insurance, retirement plans, and many other perks.

If you are married, you will receive additional benefits. Your spouse will receive free housing and food allowance. Additionally, he or she will also receive medical coverage and life insurance.

If you are single, you will receive fewer benefits. However, you will still receive some benefits including free housing and food allowances.

In addition to these benefits, you will also receive a monthly paycheck. Depending on how long you serve, you could receive anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000 per month.

Navy Jobs

Enlisted sailors work long hours. Most start work at 0500 or 0600 and finish by 2200 or 2300. Some may even work through the night shift.

In addition to their regular duties, enlisted personnel also perform tasks like firefighting, search and rescue, and shipboard security.

Officers spend most of their time in the office. 

Their daily schedule usually begins with an early morning meeting followed by briefings and administrative tasks.

After lunch, officers attend meetings and conferences before heading home for the rest of the day.


To become a naval officer, you must first complete high school or its equivalent. You then need to apply to one of the service academies. These include:

  • Annapolis – Maryland
  • West Point – New York
  • The Citadel – South Carolina
  • The Naval Academy Preparatory School (NA Prep) – California
  • The University of Notre Dame – Indiana

You must meet certain academic standards to enter any of these schools. Once you graduate from college, you must pass a series of tests, called the ASVAB, which stands for Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.

This test measures your aptitude for various jobs within the military.

You must also take part in physical training known as PT. This involves running, swimming, lifting weights, and doing pushups.

Candidates who score highly on the ASVAB will be given preference when it comes to joining the navy.

What Are Your Chances of Becoming a Pilot?

There are several different types of positions available within the navy. One of them is piloting. To become a pilot, you need to go through flight school. During this course, you learn how to operate planes.

There are three levels of flying experience required to join the navy as a pilot. Each level requires approximately 1,100 hours of flight time.

Piloting Experience

In order to fly a plane, you need to have had some previous experience in aviation.

If you don’t already have that, you can gain experience by taking lessons. There are many flight schools where you can do this.

If you want to become a fighter pilot, you need to have at least 500 hours of flight time. If you want to fly helicopters, you need to have about 100 hours of experience.

If you want to fly cargo planes, you need to have less than 50 hours of experience. All pilots must undergo periodic medical examinations.

What Is It Like Working As a Pilot?

Flying is a very exciting job. However, there are times when you might feel bored.

For instance, if you are flying over land, you won’t see much of anything, and the journeys can be long and arduous. 

Also, being a pilot means spending a lot of time away from family and friends, and missing key events and occasions in the lives of those you love – this can be very difficult to handle.

As a naval aviator, you will fly different types of planes. The type of plane that you fly depends on what kind of mission you are given.

For instance, you might be asked to transport cargo or perform aerial photography.

Once you complete your training, you will be assigned to a base. There, you will learn how to operate the plane and its different systems.

In order to do so, you must know how to read maps, navigate using GPS, and communicate via radio.

Your job duties will depend on your rank. A commander will handle all aspects of the operation. He or she will make sure everything goes smoothly before taking off.

  • A lieutenant commander will be responsible for planning the mission. He or she will then coordinate it with the other members of his or her crew.
  • A lieutenant will be in charge of navigation and communication. He or she will also ensure that the plane is refueled before takeoff.
  • A first-class petty officer will be in charge of the maintenance department. He or she will keep the plane running properly by repairing any problems.
  • A chief petty officer will be in command of the flight deck. He or she will oversee the whole process.
  • An ensign will be in charge of making sure everyone has their seat belts fastened. He or she will monitor the pilot’s performance during the flight.
  • An airman will be in charge of loading and unloading the cargo. He or she will ensure that nothing falls out while the plane is airborne.

You will also need to maintain a high level of physical fitness. This means that you should exercise regularly. If you don’t, you may not have enough energy to perform well at work.

How Much Will I Earn As A Navy Pilot?

Navy pay varies depending on what type of position you hold. The average salary for a naval aviator is $65,000 per year.

However, you can earn more money if you work for the government. In fact, the highest-paid federal employees belong to the Department of Defense.

They make between $120,000 and $150,000 per year. That’s because they receive higher salaries and bonuses than other government workers.

Aircraft Commanders

An aircraft commander is responsible for operating all aspects of an aircraft. He or she is in charge of navigation, communications, weapons systems, and safety.

An aircraft commander usually has at least 2,500 hours of flight time. However, to qualify, you will need to have at least 5,000 hours of total flying time to qualify as a pilot.

Salaries for commanders can reach up to $75,000 per year but once again, this differs according to your rank. 

As an example, a lieutenant commander makes around $70,000 per year while a captain earns about $60,000 annually.

What Are My Career Options After Joining the Navy?

After completing flight school, you will most likely be assigned to one of the following:

  • Fighter Squadron 
  • Attack Squadron 
  • Helicopter Squadron 
  • Transport Squadron 

You may also get promoted to the next rank. Once you have completed training, you will be sent to a base where you will spend the rest of your career.

The best way to advance your career is to stay active in the military. This includes participating in various activities such as flying missions, working with new equipment, and learning new skills.

You can also take part in special training programs which will help you achieve your goals faster.

Other Jobs Available To Naval Aviators

There are several jobs available to navy pilots. These include:

  • Air traffic controller
  • Flight instructor
  • Navigation officer
  • Weapons system operator
  • Electronic warfare specialist
  • Meteorologist

Final Thoughts

Becoming a navy pilot offers the chance to enjoy an exciting, engaging, and fast-paced career, and the pay can be pretty lucrative once you start to increase in rank and status.

The journey to the cockpit is far from easy, but with work, training, and determination, there is nothing that is preventing you from achieving your dream.

Jacob Stern
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