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Salary

Average Salary: $87,350

Expected Lifetime Earnings: $3,297,000


 
The amount of stripes and bars reflects how nice a car you drive. (Source)

Fighter pilots are trusted with ridiculously expensive aircraft and risk their lives basically every minute of every day, all while looking super cool in their aviator sunglasses. It seems logical to some people that they would make way more money than pretty much anyone else in the Navy or Air Force. Unfortunately for the younger pilots, that's not exactly how it works. In the United States military, you earn money based on rank, not occupation.

Lieutenants going through pilot training only make about $30,000 before whatever housing allowances or other extras are allotted (source). Captains make almost twice that, between $55,000 and $65,000 roughly, but they obviously have a lot more experience, as befits their rank. 

Likewise, majors make upwards of $65,000. In general, Generals don't fly jets, they just tell lower pilots where they're going, who they're going with, and what they're doing when they get there—not unlike parents.

And also just like parents, if you step out of line, they can and will ground you.

Other incentives exist which add up to increase your yearly take-home. There's such a thing as flight pay, which pilots receive to separate them from other officers of the same rank, starting at $1,500 a year and working up from there. 

If you stay on after your commitment is up, you become eligible for an additional ten to twenty-five thousand dollar bonus, just for deciding not to run off to the commercial airline or space-faring world. That's a pretty great way to say "thanks for staying."

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