Every woman has her own reason for joining the armed forces, whether it's to serve her country, learn career skills or see the world. The United States Navy and Air Force provide service members an opportunity to do all those things and more. These military branches offer steady pay, regular opportunities for promotion and some of the best benefits in the job market. In addition, service members can take pride in the role they played serving their country,
Many women are drawn to the Navy and Air Force for the chance to earn competitive pay. Military pay for both the Navy and Air Force includes basic pay based on your grade or rank, years of service and family size. In 2013, monthly base pay for officers ranged between $2,876.40 for the lowest ranked officers and topped out at $19,666.90 for the highest ranked officers. Enlisted members' pay ranged between $1,516.20 and $7,435.22 monthly. You can also receive a basic allowance for housing and subsistence. Special pay and bonuses for things like having unique skills or being stationed overseas further increase pay. Additional financial benefits include clothing allowances, tax advantages and retirement pay. Annual pay raises are given based on the Employment Cost Index that is linked to wages paid in the private sector.
Training for a career inside or outside the military is a big draw for many people. Both the Navy and Air Force offer professional training opportunities that can prepare you for careers as everything from psychiatrists and auditors to fighter pilots and astronauts. Much of this training can be costly and difficult to get on your own. Getting it while also earning a living and serving your country are both big bonuses.
Navy and Air Force bases have social and recreational programs designed to entertain and accommodate individuals and families, while encouraging a healthy lifestyle. Golf courses, bowling alleys and swimming pools are not uncommon on base. Additionally, the base offers a full calendar of events. If service members choose to travel, they might be able to hop a free flight on an Air Force aircraft – this time for pleasure. Flights go all over the world, and international lodging is available inexpensively at bases in 16 countries. Navy service members can also see the world at more than 100 ports of call around the world.
The Navy and Air Force both offer plenty of opportunity for advancement. The vast majority of officers eventually move from first lieutenant to captain in the Air Force, and from Lieutenant Junior to Lieutenant in the Navy, within four years. Fifty percent make it to Colonel in the Air Force or Captain in the Navy within 21 to 23 years. Advancement is something to be proud of and is often publicly recognized. Moving up the ranks can also serve you well should you decide to leave the military and look for work in the private sector, as former military officers are considered strong job candidates in many fields.
Benefits for Life
The Navy and Air Force offer extensive benefits for members and their families. Service members who are active or active reserve receive comprehensive healthcare plans, retirement plans and long-term care insurance. They also receive generous paid time off as well as access to discount shopping, family support services, youth programs, relocation assistance, tuition assistance, life insurance, home loan guarantees, legal assistance and death and burial benefits. The breadth of benefits is hard to find in most private sector jobs.
- The Navy: Benefits
- U.S. Air Force: Benefits
- U.S. Air Force: Enlisted Education
- U.S. Department of Defense: Benefits for Service Members
- Naval Services FamilyLine: Sea Legs – A Handbook for Navy Life and Services
- U.S. Department of Defense: Pay and Benefits
- Airforce: Recreation
- Today’s Military: World Travel
- Navy: Travel
- Military Factory: 2013 Military Pay Scale Chart -- effective January 1st, 2013
Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.