Airman First Class Pay: A Detailed Look At Salary And Benefits

Deciding to join the United States Air Force is a big commitment that requires careful consideration of the compensation and benefits. If you’re considering enlisting at the rank of Airman First Class (A1C), you probably want to know exactly how much money you’ll be earning.

In short, an A1C earns a base pay between $1,931 and $2,194 per month, with additional allowances for housing and food. However, your total compensation extends far beyond just base salary.

Base Pay for an Airman First Class

When it comes to the salary and benefits of an Airman First Class, understanding the base pay is essential. The base pay is determined by the airman’s pay grade and rank, with additional factors such as time in service and special pay allowances.

Pay Grade and Rank

An Airman First Class holds the pay grade of E-3 in the United States Air Force. This rank is typically achieved after 20 months of service or by meeting certain promotion requirements. As an E-3, an Airman First Class is considered a junior enlisted member and is an integral part of the Air Force team.

Monthly and Annual Base Salary

The monthly base salary for an Airman First Class in 2021 is $2,262.60. This amount is based on the Department of Defense’s military pay scale and is adjusted annually for inflation. Annually, an Airman First Class can expect to earn a base salary of approximately $27,151.20.

It is important to note that these figures do not include additional allowances and benefits that an Airman First Class may be eligible for, such as housing allowance, food allowance, and medical benefits. These additional benefits can significantly increase an airman’s overall compensation package.

Pay Raises and Promotions

As an Airman First Class gains experience and time in service, they become eligible for pay raises and promotions. The Air Force has a structured system for promotions, with specific requirements and timelines for each rank. Promotions often come with an increase in base pay and additional benefits.

It is worth noting that beyond the base pay, there are other opportunities for an Airman First Class to earn additional income. For example, airmen may be eligible for special pay allowances for hazardous duty, being stationed in high-cost areas, or having specific skills or qualifications.

For more detailed information on Airman First Class pay and benefits, refer to the official Department of Defense website:

Allowances and Bonuses

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)

One of the major benefits for Airman First Class is the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). BAH is provided to assist airmen in meeting the cost of housing when government quarters are not available. The amount of BAH is determined by several factors, including the service member’s rank, location, and whether they have dependents.

It is a tax-free allowance that is paid monthly and can be a significant portion of an airman’s overall compensation.

The BAH rates are updated annually to reflect changes in housing costs. These rates are based on a variety of factors, including local rental market data and utility costs. Airmen can find the current BAH rates for their area on the Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO) website.

Website Reference: Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO)

Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS)

In addition to BAH, Airman First Class also receives the Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS). BAS is designed to offset the cost of meals for service members. It is a monthly allowance that is also tax-free.

The amount of BAS is the same for all ranks and is adjusted annually to keep pace with the cost of living. The current BAS rate can be found on the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) website.

Website Reference: Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS)

Incentive Pays and Bonuses

Airmen First Class may also be eligible for various incentive pays and bonuses. These additional payments are designed to reward airmen for certain skills, duties, or assignments. Some examples of incentive pays and bonuses include:

  • Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay
  • Flight Pay
  • Special Duty Assignment Pay
  • Retention Bonuses

The availability and amount of these incentive pays and bonuses can vary depending on factors such as the airman’s job specialty and length of service. Airmen should consult their unit’s finance office or the Air Force’s official website for more information on eligibility and current rates.

Website Reference: Air Force Official Website

Healthcare and Education Benefits

When it comes to serving in the military, one of the most important aspects to consider is the comprehensive healthcare and education benefits that are offered. Airman First Class (A1C) personnel are provided with a range of benefits to ensure their well-being and personal growth.

TRICARE Health Insurance

TRICARE is the healthcare insurance program provided to military personnel and their families. As an Airman First Class, you have access to this comprehensive healthcare coverage, ensuring that you and your loved ones receive the medical care you need.

With TRICARE, you can choose from various plans and providers, allowing you to receive the necessary medical attention both on base and in civilian facilities.

Montgomery GI Bill

The Montgomery GI Bill is an education benefit that provides financial assistance to military personnel for their education and training. As an Airman First Class, you have the opportunity to take advantage of this bill, which can help cover the costs of tuition, books, and other educational expenses.

The Montgomery GI Bill opens up doors to pursue higher education, giving you the chance to enhance your skills and knowledge while serving in the military.

Tuition Assistance

In addition to the Montgomery GI Bill, Airman First Class personnel are also eligible for tuition assistance. This program provides financial support for active-duty military members to pursue higher education while serving.

With tuition assistance, you can enroll in college courses, vocational training, or even pursue a degree online. This benefit not only helps you advance your education but also enhances your professional development, enabling you to excel in your military career.

For more information on healthcare and education benefits for Airman First Class personnel, you can visit the official TRICARE website at and the official Montgomery GI Bill website at

Additional Allowances and Compensation

Clothing Allowance

As an Airman First Class, one of the additional benefits you can enjoy is a clothing allowance. This allowance is provided to help cover the cost of your military uniform and other required clothing items.

The amount of the clothing allowance may vary depending on your branch of service and the specific uniform requirements. It is important to note that this allowance is typically provided annually to ensure that you have the necessary funds to maintain your uniform and appearance.

Family Separation Allowance

When you are deployed or stationed away from your family for an extended period, the military recognizes the challenges and stresses that can arise from being separated from loved ones. That’s why the Air Force provides a Family Separation Allowance to help offset some of the additional costs incurred during these times.

This allowance is intended to assist with expenses such as additional childcare, transportation, and communication costs.

Hardship Duty Pay

In certain situations, you may find yourself in a location or assignment that is considered to be more challenging or demanding than others. In recognition of the extra hardships you may face, the Air Force offers Hardship Duty Pay.

This additional compensation is designed to provide financial support for those serving in locations with extreme climates, dangerous conditions, or other challenging circumstances. The amount of Hardship Duty Pay can vary depending on the specific assignment and location.

Travel Reimbursement

As an Airman First Class, you may have the opportunity to travel for various reasons, such as training, deployments, or temporary duty assignments. The military understands that travel expenses can quickly add up, so they provide travel reimbursement to help alleviate some of the financial burden.

This typically includes compensation for transportation costs, lodging, meals, and incidentals. The specific reimbursement rates and allowances will depend on the purpose and duration of the travel.

For more detailed information on allowances and compensation for Airman First Class pay, you can visit the official website of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) at This website provides comprehensive information on military pay and allowances, including current rates and eligibility criteria.


Enlisting as an Airman First Class comes with a competitive salary and excellent benefits. While your base pay starts relatively low, you’ll also receive housing and food allowances, health insurance, education benefits, and more.

Within a few years, you can receive promotions to increase your base salary. The financial rewards and valuable job training make the Air Force an appealing career choice for many.

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