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How can I become a fighter pilot? (2024)

become a fighter pilot

How can I become a fighter pilot?

To become a fighter pilot in the US Air Force, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be between 5’5″ and 6’4″ tall when standing, and 34 to 40 inches tall when sitting
  • Have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, preferably in a technical field
  • Meet strict physical, medical, vision, and academic requirements
  • Achieve qualifying scores on the AFOQT exam
  • Pass a selection board before age 33
  • Be eligible to begin pilot training from the time you turn 18 until you turn 29 

You must also:

  • Earn a four-year degree
  • Meet Officer Qualifications
  • Attend Officer Training School (OTS)
  • Pass Initial Flight Training
  • Pass Undergraduate Pilot Training
  • Accumulate Flight Hours and Experience 

The entire process of becoming a pilot will take approximately 3-4 years.

Here are the steps you need to take to become a fighter pilot

  1. Join the Air Force.
  2. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree.
  3. Meet Officer Qualifications.
  4. Attend Officer Training School (OTS)
  5. Pass Initial Flight Training.
  6. Pass Undergraduate Pilot Training.
  7. Accumulate Flight Hours and Experience.

The first thing you must understand is that there is much more to being a fighter pilot than looking cool and making women swoon. (Although those are certainly major bonuses when it comes to Naval Aviators)

The job of a combat aviator is to be technically and tactically proficient with your aircraft in order to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by delivering the weapons at your disposal.

Becoming a fighter pilot is a challenging and competitive process that requires dedication, education, and specific qualifications. Here are the general steps you might follow:

  1. Educational Requirements:
    • Obtain a high school diploma or equivalent. Focus on subjects such as mathematics, physics, and English.
    • Pursue a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. While there is no specific degree requirement, many successful fighter pilots have degrees in fields such as aviation, engineering, or physical sciences.
  2. Officer Training:
    • To become a military pilot, you typically need to be an officer in the armed forces. Joining the military involves meeting certain eligibility requirements, including age, citizenship, and physical fitness.
    • Attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) or a military academy to become a commissioned officer.
  3. Military Service:
    • Join a branch of the military that has a pilot training program. In the United States, the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps all have programs for aspiring pilots.
    • Gain experience and rank as an officer before applying for pilot training.
  4. Pilot Training:
    • Once accepted into pilot training, you’ll undergo extensive flight training. This includes classroom instruction, simulator training, and actual flight time.
    • Successfully complete Basic Flight Training and Advanced Flight Training.
  5. Specialize in Fighter Aircraft:
    • After completing initial flight training, you may have the opportunity to specialize in fighter aircraft. This involves additional training specific to high-performance aircraft.
  6. Gain Experience:
    • Accumulate flight hours and gain experience as a pilot. This may involve flying various types of aircraft before transitioning to fighter jets.
  7. Meet Physical and Medical Requirements:
    • Fighter pilots need to meet strict physical and medical standards. This includes excellent vision, hearing, and overall health.
  8. Apply for Fighter Pilot Positions:
    • Apply for fighter pilot positions within your military branch. Competition for these positions is usually intense, and selection is based on performance, qualifications, and available openings.
  9. Complete Fighter Pilot Training:
    • If selected, you will undergo specialized fighter pilot training, which includes learning the intricacies of flying high-performance aircraft and engaging in combat scenarios.
  10. Continuing Education and Advancement:
    • Fighter pilots continue their education and training throughout their careers. Advancement opportunities may include becoming a flight instructor, test pilot, or taking on leadership roles within the military.

How can I become a fighter pilot? (2024)

It’s important to note that the specific requirements and processes can vary by country and military branch. Additionally, becoming a fighter pilot is highly competitive, and meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee acceptance into a pilot training program. If you’re interested in pursuing this path, it’s advisable to contact the recruiting offices of the relevant military branch for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Basically killing bad guys by being smarter, quicker, better equipped and more lethal than they are.

The training is long, tough intellectually, emotionally and physically. So tough that despite the caliber of those selected, it can be the first time in their lives the student pilots face failure or tough criticism. It’s humbling, yet extraordinarily rewarding.

If you’re an SJW, pansy, democrat, or any kind of liberal, “gender bender”, druggie, gun hater, or another sort of troublemaker, THIS IS NOT YOUR PLACE. While you may be physically capable of flying the jet, your mind works counter to the mission, and your presence is disruptive to your peers, making their job needlessly more difficult and risky to their lives.


The act of flying the jet is an individual sport, it takes massive teamwork to get to that point.

Thus, experience in such an environment helps. And it affects which service you choose to fly for.

But back to the original question.

  1. Finish high school with high grades.
  2. DO NOT ENLIST. Pilots have Commissioned Officers with 4-year college degrees. While there are enlisted-to-officer programs, they are infrequent, highly competitive, and if you’re in a critical MOS, you won’t be allowed to leave until enlistment is up. GO TO COLLEGE.
  3. Start thinking about where to go to college early. If you want to go to Annapolis, West Point, Coast Guard, or Air Force, you better be working on it by your sophomore year. ROTC Scholarships, by Junior year. We will discuss service selection later.
  4. involved in extracurricular activities and/or sports.
  5. Be computer savvy. Hate to say it, but video games play a part in warfare today…Flight Simulator is good
  6. Stay fit. This is not a carnival ride. Fighting another jet or CAS when you’re being shot at can be as brutal as a car crash.
  7. If you can afford it, get your private pilot’s license. Learn the airspace, navigation, planning, etc. Don’t worry if you can’t do this, because flying a Cessna is so different than what you’ll be doing unless you’ve become truly proficient, it won’t make much difference. The ground school, however, will.
  8. READ. Read news, history, biography, trade journals. Understand what you’re heading for technically, historically, personally, and politically.
  9. Decide upon a college. If it’s USNA, USMA, USCGA, USAFA, you’re on autopilot for 4 years. Elsewhere, even if no scholarship, get involved in ROTC or the USMC OCC/PLC program immediately.
  10. Get a 4-year degree in something useful and technically oriented…biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, geology, history(with technical electives), mathematics, physics, etc. NOTHING THAT ENDS IN “STUDIES”. While most any major is acceptable, these will make your journey easier because you simply must understand the dynamics of flight, weapons, and warfare.
  11. Get good grades in college. Be involved in previously mentioned commissioning programs. If they offer Aviation Guarantee, take it and don’t screw it up.
  12. Accept your commission. Complete basic officer training. Go to flight school. Do well, and select your pipeline, then your jet.

How can I become a fighter pilot in 2024?

But what if you’re a well-rounded, top achieving, high school graduate who has stayed away from the dark side of temptation, find yourself in college, taking the right courses, but are a “late decider”, not in ROTC or PLC/OCC, and want to fly?

You can still do it.

While I’d suggest applying to all 3 branches that fly fighters (and Coast Guard & Army if you’d fly bombers, transports or helos), consider what branch suits you best.

Understand even in the other branches, you can end up a bomber, transport, or helo pilot too, if your grades are lower, or if you choose those routes.


First and foremost, the United States Marine Corps Naval Aviator is the epitome of fighter pilots and military men. Once out of jet flight school, you will fly F-35Bs, F-35Cs, F-18s, Harriers, or for a couple more years, Prowlers.

You’ll go to the boat and CQ (Carrier Qualify) like the Navy guys, but you’ll also land the VTOL jets on Amphibs, and operate from land bases. (Which makes your duty to the adoring women of the world somewhat more convenient).

Do understand USMC life is more austere than the others, so the camaraderie with your fellow officers is critical. If you loved Fraternity life in College, this is a good fit.

Remember, the entire USMC is in support of Troops on the Ground. You’re a fighter pilot until you clear the airspace, then you’re doing strike, attack, CAS, in support of the Marines on the ground. (Flying low and fast is more fun than flying high and fast anyway…)

How can I become a fighter pilot? (2024)

Being a Marine Corps Officer is truly different than all others. An honor and a privilege. And it’s the branch least corrupted by political correctness. If you want to be at the tip of the spear, this is where you want to be.

A close second is our brothers and peers in the US NAVY. Both USMC and USN go through the exact same training. They fly pretty much the same jets…but no VTOL…although the mission is different.

It’s carrier-centric, and you deploy at sea for 6 months at a time. Still, Navy and Marines interoperate seamlessly all the time. Navy life is similar to USMC for junior officers, but later on, the Navy is more “buttoned-down” and less tolerant of eccentricities.

Sadly, political correctness has all but destroyed the “Top Gun” ethos in any way visible to the public. But Naval Aviation remains an incredible place for men of honor, skill, confidence, and action. (Even if they aren’t Marine Officers)

How can I become a fighter pilot in 2024?

The USAF. Yep, they have the F-22. They have F-35As. They have F-15A/C/Ds, They have F-16s. But since all students take the same syllabus, unless you are at the top, there’s a LOT of seats to fill in B-52s, KC-135s, KC-10s, C-5s, C-17s, etc.

Great if your goal is to be an airline pilot in 10 years. Sucks if you want to be a fighter pilot. The USAF is the branch most deeply corrupted by political correctness.

Much of this is because the USAF has the fewest combatants in proportion to the overall size of the service, the lowest overall physical standards, and the fewest leaders who have actually faced enemy action.

This breeds a ”corporate” culture where inferior individuals brown-nose their way into positions of authority while their braver, stronger, smarter, more honorable peers are off in harm’s way with the Marines, Navy, and Army.

While this crap is fine in a hippie commune, it’s absolutely toxic to a military organization. Certainly, the USAF Fighter Wings and Squadrons, because of the type of man who is capable of becoming a fighter pilot, have a lifestyle approaching that of the USMC and USN, but they can’t land on Aircraft Carriers, and women will always seek out the Naval Aviators first. Admittedly, the USAF lifestyle is the most comfortable.

How can I become a fighter pilot in 2024?

Their base facilities rival Club Med. Even deployed, comfort comes first. Where the Marines and Army dig a trench to give birth to a liberal, the USAF has air-conditioned tents with running water and flush toilets.

Where the USMC slept on cots in tents on the muddy airfield in Aviano, Italy, the USAF aircrew was coddled in luxury chalets and hotels in the mountains, shuttled back and forth in helicopters like Russian oligarchs.

All joking aside, we’re all on the same team. Regardless of the branch, American aviators are the best in the world.

There are differences between the branches. Figure out what suits you best.

Understand that to become a fighter pilot…USMC, USN, or USAF… you must be one of the best. Tens of thousands dream of doing it, but only a couple hundred guys a year actually make it.

You’re going to end up in a very exclusive club, and the work is just beginning when you earn your wings.

To summarize:

  • Prepare. Morally, mentally, physically.
  • Graduate HS. Top grades, activities.
  • Follow the commissioning path through college.
  • Excel in flight school.
  • Fly fighters.

Have you ever dreamt of soaring through the skies, with the world beneath you and the horizon as your destination? Welcome to the thrilling, adrenaline-pumping world of fighter pilots.

Becoming a pilot isn’t just a career; it’s a calling. It’s about pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, testing your limits, and embracing the extraordinary.

But how does one become a fighter pilot? What does it take to join the ranks of these sky warriors?

Let’s embark on this journey together, exploring the path to becoming a fighter pilot.

Here are the steps you need to take to become a fighter pilot

  • Join the Air Force
  • Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
  • Meet Officer Qualifications
  • Attend Officer Training School (OTS)
  • Pass Initial Flight Training
  • Pass Undergraduate Pilot Training
  • Accumulate Flight Hours and Experience

Understanding the Role of a Fighter Pilot

Imagine the rush of adrenaline as you ignite the engines of a state-of-the-art fighter jet. As a fighter pilot, you’re not just an aviator but a guardian of the skies. You’re entrusted with defending your nation’s interests, whether in peace or war.
This role demands more than technical skills; it requires courage, quick thinking, and a relentless pursuit of excellence.

Fighter pilots serve in different military branches, including the Air Force, Navy, and Air National Guard. Each branch offers unique opportunities and challenges but demands the same commitment and dedication.

The rewards? They’re beyond measure. The pride of serving your country, the respect you earn, and the thrill of flying some of the world’s most advanced aircraft. Plus, the earning potential and benefits are impressive.

But remember, this isn’t a job for the faint-hearted. It’s a lifestyle choice that demands your all.

Pilot Requirements

So, you’re ready to answer the call of the wild blue yonder? Great! But first, let’s talk about the requirements and qualifications to become a pilot.

Age, citizenship, and education are the basic prerequisites. You need to be a U.S. citizen, usually between the ages of 18 and 33, and you must have a bachelor’s degree or be close to completing one.
Physical and mental fitness are crucial.

You’ll undergo rigorous medical and psychological evaluations. Your vision(if you have bad vision read our in-depth article on “Can you be a pilot with glasses?”), hearing and overall health must meet high standards and you also need to be mentally robust to handle the pressures of the job.
Technical knowledge and skills are a given. You’ll need to ace the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT) and the Test of Basic Aviation Skills (TBAS).

Don’t worry if you still need to become a whiz kid. The military provides extensive training to help you master the skills you need.

Necessary Steps – Explained

Now that we’ve explored what it means to be a fighter pilot and the qualifications required let’s dive into the heart-pounding, adrenaline-fueled journey of becoming one.
From enlisting in the military to the triumphant moment of joining a fighter squadron, each step is a thrilling adventure in its own right.

Ready to navigate this high-flying path? Let’s jet off and explore step by step how to become a fighter pilot.

Join the Military

Your journey to becoming a fighter pilot begins with joining the military. Joining the military is a significant commitment, requiring both physical and mental strength.

You’ll need to choose a branch to serve in – the Air Force, Navy, or Air National Guard each have their unique opportunities and challenges.

Air Force

The Air Force is often the first choice for aspiring fighter pilots. It offers a wide range of flying aircraft and a strong focus on aerial combat and defense.

The Air Force also provides extensive training and educational opportunities, making it a great choice for those looking to push their skills to the limit.


If taking off and landing on an aircraft carrier excites you, the Navy might be your best bet. Navy pilots often get the chance to fly various aircraft and are trained for air-to-air combat and ground operations support.
The Navy’s rigorous training program is designed to prepare pilots for the unique challenges of naval aviation.

Air National Guard

The Air National Guard offers a unique opportunity to serve your country and community while maintaining a civilian career or pursuing further education.

As a fighter pilot in the Air National Guard, you’ll participate in various missions, from air defense to disaster response. The Guard provides comprehensive training and the opportunity to fly some of the most advanced aircraft in the world.

Complete Officer Training School (OTS)

Once you’ve enlisted, the next step is to complete Officer Training School (OTS). This is where you’ll learn the leadership skills and military knowledge needed as an officer.

OTS is a challenging program that combines classroom learning with physical training. You’ll study various subjects, including military law, ethics, leadership principles, and physical conditioning. You’ll also participate in drills and exercises to develop teamwork and problem-solving skills.

Upon completing OTS, you’ll be commissioned as an officer and ready to move on to the next stage of your training.

Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT)

With OTS under your belt, you’re now ready to learn to fly. Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) is an intensive program that combines classroom instruction with practical flight training. You’ll start with ground school, where you’ll learn the basics of aerodynamics, navigation, and aircraft systems.
Then, you’ll move on to flight training, where you’ll learn to fly various aircraft under the guidance of experienced instructors. UPT is a demanding program, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. By the end of UPT, you’ll be a qualified military pilot.

Fighter Squadron

After completing UPT, you’ll be assigned to a fighter squadron, where you’ll learn to fly a specific type of fighter aircraft. You’ll undergo further training to familiarize yourself with your assigned aircraft and its systems.

You’ll also participate in exercises and missions designed to develop your skills as a fighter pilot. Being part of a fighter squadron is a challenging but exciting experience. You’ll work closely with your fellow pilots and ground crew, and you’ll have the opportunity to test your skills in various scenarios.

It’s the final step in your training and the beginning of your career as a fighter pilot.

Pilot’s Military Training

Military training for pilots is rigorous, challenging, and designed to push you to your limits. It’s also where you’ll learn the skills and knowledge that will form the foundation of your career as a fighter pilot.

The training is divided into different phases, each designed to teach you specific skills.
The first phase is basic military training, where you’ll learn the fundamentals of being a soldier, including physical training, weapons training, and military law and ethics lessons.

Next, you’ll move on to officer training. Here, you’ll learn leadership skills, military customs and courtesies, and the principles of command and control.

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The third phase is Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT), where you’ll learn to fly. UPT is divided into two parts: primary and advanced. In primary, you’ll learn the basics of flight, while in advanced, you’ll specialize in a specific aircraft type.

Finally, you’ll undergo survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE) training, where you’ll learn survival skills for different environments, how to evade capture, resist interrogation, and escape from captivity.

How Does Day In A Life Look Like?

Being a fighter pilot is more than a job; it’s a way of life. Every day brings new challenges and opportunities to learn. One day, you might practice dogfighting maneuvers in a training exercise; the next, you could be flying a real mission.

The lifestyle of a fighter pilot is demanding. You’ll often be away from home for extended periods, and the work can be physically and mentally taxing. But it’s also incredibly rewarding. There’s nothing quite like flying a multi-million dollar aircraft at supersonic speeds.

There are also plenty of opportunities for career advancement. As you gain experience, you could move into roles such as flight instructor, squadron commander, or higher leadership positions.

And, of course, flying some of the most advanced aircraft in the world is thrilling.

Preparing for Your Career

So, you’re ready to take the plunge and pursue your dream of becoming a fighter pilot. Great! But before you start, there are a few things you should know.

First, the application process for becoming a pilot is competitive. You’ll need to prepare thoroughly to give yourself the best chance of success.

Start by researching the requirements for the military branch you’re interested in. Make sure you meet the basic eligibility criteria and then start preparing for the tests you’ll need to take.

These include the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT) and the Test of Basic Aviation Skills (TBAS).

Next, consider getting some flight experience. While it’s not a requirement, having some basic flight skills can give you an edge in training. Plus, it’s a great way to determine if flying is really for you.

Finally, be prepared for a long and challenging journey. Becoming a fighter pilot isn’t easy, but you can make it happen with determination, hard work, and a little luck.

Wrapping up

Becoming a fighter pilot is a journey filled with challenges and rewards. It requires dedication, perseverance, and a willingness to push yourself to your limits. But if you have the drive and determination, you can join the ranks of the elite few with the privilege of calling themselves fighter pilots.

Remember, this is more than just a career. It’s a calling. It’s about being part of something bigger than yourself. It’s about serving your country and protecting your fellow citizens. And it’s about pushing the boundaries of what’s possible for yourself and the world of aviation.

How can I become a fighter pilot? (2024)