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U.S. Air Force Officer Military Ranks

A common misconception that many citizens have regarding Air Force Officers is that they are all pilots. In fact, only 4% of the Officers in the Air Force are pilots. So, the vast majority of Air Force Officers have careers in other fields, such as management, science, law, healthcare, and technology. All of these career fields work in unison to support the mission of the United States Air Force, which is to “fly, fight and win... in air, space and cyberspace.”

There are a variety of ways to become an officer in the U.S. Air Force. Many colleges and universities through the United States have Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), which is a program that develops the leadership skills of the participants as they earn a degree. Upon graduation, these individuals become Air Force Officers. Many professionals, such as lawyers, doctors, nurses, priests, and pastors, may enter the Air Force as Officers through Direct Commission. Still, other individuals start their careers as an Air Force Officer by attending Officer Training School (OTS). And finally, graduates from the Air Force Academy, which is the Air Force’s United States Military Academy, become U.S. Air Force Officers.

As you can see by what you read above, a college degree is a prerequisite in order to receive a commission and become a United States Air Force Officer. To find schools that support your drive to earn a degree, click on the "Find A School" button below:

Grade
Insignia
Title
Description
O-1
Army Second Lieutenant (2LT)
Second Lieutenant (2nd Lt)
A Second Lieutenant in the USAF may supervise flights of varying sizes, depending upon the career field, as a flight commander or assistant flight commander. A 2nd Lt may also work in a variety of administrative positions at the squadron, group, or wing level.
O-2
Army First Lieutenant (1LT)
First Lieutenant (1st Lt)
A First Lieutenant in the USAF may be a flight commander, however, in an operational unit, a First Lieutenant is generally a rated officer, which means he or she is a pilot, navigator, or air battle manager who has just finished training for his career field and has few supervisory responsibilities.
O-3
Army Captain (CPT)
Captain (Capt)
An Air Force Captain may end up being a flight commander or, department head depending up on the group to which the Captain is assigned, the field of expertise, or by the time in grade. Captains in the medical field generally does not have any level of authority, since that is usually the entry level rank for that field.
O-4
Army Major (MAJ)
Major (Maj)
Oftentimes, an Air Force Major is a senior staff officer for a squadron. If the Major is in a flying squadron, then he or she is most likely a flight commander or assistant director of operations.
O-5
Lieutenant Colonel (LTC)
Lieutenant Colonel
(Lt Col)
A Lieutenant Colonel in the USAF is most likely going to be assigned as a director of operations or a squadron commander. Lieutenant Colonels may also serve on general staffs and may be the heads of some wing staff departments.
O-6
Colonel
Colonel (Col)
A USAF Colonel is usually assigned as a group or wing commander, which may consist of 1,000 to 3,000 airmen. A Command Chief Master Sergeant is the NCO advisor for the Colonel. The Colonel may also servein a Numbered Air Force-level staff agency.
O-7
 	Brigadier General (BG)
Brigadier General
(Brig Gen)
A USAF Brigadier General may command a large wing or may serve as high-level staff officer in a large military organization. Also, a Brigadier General can hold the position of Deputy Commander to the Commanding General. A Brigadier General is commonly addressed as "General."
O-8
 	Major General (MG)
Major General
(Maj Gen)
Major Generals in the USAF usually serve as Vice Commanders of Numbered Air Forces consisting of several wings or as high-level staff officers at major commands and the Pentagon. A Major General is commonly addressed as "General."
O-9
 	Lieutenant General (LTG)
Lieutenant General
(Lt Gen)
An Air Force Lieutenant General can be found in command of a large Numbered Air Force consisting of several wings or as high-level staff officers at various major command headquarters and The Pentagon, often as the heads of their departments. A Lieutenant General is commonly addressed as "General."
O-10
General (GEN)
General (Gen)
A General in the USAF is the senior level of Commissioned Officer who usually has over 30 years of experience and service. A General commands all operations that fall within his or her geographical area.
Special
General of the Army
General of the Air Force
The rank of General of the Air Force is held in reserve for wartime situations. The purpose of this rank is to designate a Commanding Officer when working alongside officers of our allies. This rank ensures that the General of the Air Force is of equal or higher rank than those commanding forces from other nations.
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