Air Force Healthcare Training Programs
The U.S. Air Force's healthcare training programs are for Air Force service members who want to prepare for careers as dentists, doctors, pharmacists or other healthcare professionals. Find out about these programs, including military service requirements, salary, enlistment information and training options.
What Healthcare Training Can I Receive in the Air Force?
Depending on your interests, healthcare training in the Air Force is available through the Biomedical Sciences Corps, Dental Corps, Medical Corps or Nurse Corps. The Biomedical Sciences Corps provides allied health, pharmacy, optometry, physiology and medical laboratory services to the U.S. Air Force. You can also earn a degree in dentistry and work in the Dental Corps. If you're looking to become a physician in the armed services, you can work for the Medical Corps. If you want to complete graduate-level training in nursing, you can work for the Nursing Corps.
|Training||Available through Biomedical Sciences Corps, Dental Corps, Medical Corps and Nurse Corps|
|Getting Educated||Bachelor's degrees awarded during enlistment through ROTC programs; training through USUHS leads to graduate degree in nursing or medicine|
|Requirements to Enlist||Age requirements (vary); enrollment in federal service academies require nomination from member of Congress (limited admission);|
|USUHS Admission||Sponsorship by Air Force as active duty officer or civilian professional required; bachelor's degree and registered nurse licensure required for master's or Ph.D. in nursing; bachelor's degree and 1 year undergraduate coursework in organic chemistry needed for M.D. programs|
|Entry Level Salary Prospects (2019)*|| $38,256 (for second lieutenants) |
$44,088 (for first lieutenants)
$51,024 (for captains)
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)**||7% growth (for all first-line supervisors of police and detectives)|
Sources: *U.S. Air Force website, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
How Do I Complete My Training?
There are many different ways to complete your healthcare training in the Air Force depending upon your career goals and your professional background. Like healthcare professionals in the other armed services, you can complete your training in a federal service academy, the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences (USUHS) or a Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program in a civilian college.
ROTC programs and federal service academies usually award a Bachelor of Science degree in the healthcare field you're looking to work in during your enlistment. The U.S. Air Force also works with civilian schools to offer dentistry, allied health and other programs tailored for military service. If you complete your healthcare training through the USUHS, you can earn a graduate degree in nursing or medicine.
If you enroll in a federal service academy or the USUHS, you'll be considered as currently enlisted. In an ROTC program, your enlistment will be delayed until you earn your degree. The Air Force does pay your tuition and even offers allowances for housing, meals, textbooks and other expenses regardless of how you complete your training. However, you'll need to complete a term of enlistment that varies by the type of training you'll receive after you earn a degree.
Enlistment obligations vary by the type of training and where you receive it. For example, you'll need to complete five years of active duty service if you complete your training in a service academy. If you earn your Doctor of Medicine from USUHS, you'll need to complete a 7-year enlistment. An enlistment in the Biomedical Sciences Corps usually lasts four years.
What Is Required to Enlist?
Before you complete Air Force healthcare training, you'll need to be enlisted in the military or have an existing obligation for enlistment. You'll also need to be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old and be able to complete your training before age 35. However, some of the age limit requirement can be offset by years of active service by those looking to enroll in the USUHS.
Air Force ROTC programs are usually only open to students with a year of active-duty service, but this requirement can be waived. If you're currently enrolled in a college, you'll need to be able to complete your bachelor's degree requirements within 32 months or less. You can enter the Biomedical Sciences Corps as an allied health professional after completing an ROTC program.
Enrollment in a federal service academy requires nomination from a member of Congress. You'll also need to be unmarried and have no dependent children. Admission to a federal service academy is very limited, highly competitive and usually reserved for those with outstanding academic records.
If you wish to complete your healthcare training through the USUHS, you'll need to be sponsored by the Air Force as an active duty officer or civilian professional. If you're looking to earn a master's degree or Ph.D. in Nursing through USUHS, you'll need to enter the Air Force with a bachelor's degree and a license as a registered nurse. If you're looking to earn a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree, you'll need a bachelor's degree as well as a year of undergraduate coursework in organic chemistry.
What Can I Expect After I've Been Trained?
Wages and rank will vary by your chosen healthcare field. For example, those who complete training in allied health to work in the Biomedical Sciences Corps begin their careers as a second lieutenant. In 2019, Air Force reported that a second lieutenant with less than two years of experience earned $38,256 per year. Those with advanced training can start a military career as a first lieutenant. The Air Force reports that yearly pay for a first lieutenant with less than two years of experience was $44,088 in 2019.
If you complete training to become a physician or dentist, you can begin your Air Force career as a captain. The Air Force reports that captains with less than two years of experience earned $51,024 per year in 2019.
If you pursue a healthcare career within the U.S. Air Force, you can expect pay and rank increases based on the time you've served. You'll also be expected to complete continuing education in your health profession. Although most officer ranks are attained based on performance, lieutenant general and general ranks, respectively, are only open to officers with more than 20 years of active service.