Medical Careers in the Air Force

There are various medically-related careers that are available to members of the United States Air Force. We will look at details related to medical careers in the Air Force by focusing on salary statistics, job responsibilities, and necessary skills.

Individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in medicine or related to the medical field in addition to joining the United States Air Force have a large number of options that would allow them to achieve both goals. Below, we will explore some of the careers in the Air Force that involve medicine in greater detail. We will focus on details like salary statistics as well as what types of skills are necessary to be successful in these careers.

Career Comparison

Job Title Average Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2016-2026)** Applicable Military Skills/Traits**
Audiologist $106,384 21% Communication skills, problem-solving, listening skills, patience
Operating Room Nurse $119,799 15% Decision-making, listening skills, communication skills, teamwork, ability to work under pressure, detail-oriented
Biomedical Laboratory Officer $50,401 13% (for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians) Detail-oriented, communications skills, analytical skills
Psychiatrist $132,378 11% Communication skills, listening skills, patience, problem-solving
Flight Surgeon $138,816 14% Problem-thinking, leadership, analytical skills, critical thinking

Source: *Department of Defense, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Relevance to Military Background

Many of the skills required to be successful in the medical field are also very helpful to a successful career in the Air Force. Medical professionals often have to be very effective communicators in order to listen and speak to patients and other team members, creative problem-solvers, and have the ability to work well under pressure. The five jobs below are all different medical careers that are available in the Air Force.


Audiologists play a very important role in the Air Force, as it is their job to help servicemen and women take care of their hearing since hearing properly is integral to performing successfully the other jobs and duties associated with the Air Force. This is especially important in the Air Force, as these men and women are often exposed to very loud noises from powerful aircraft that normal civilians rarely encounter. Audiologists help diagnose and treat a variety of hearing-related problems and also help servicemen and women learn ways to better protect their hearing. This job requires a high level of communication skills, as well as the ability to problem-solve in order to diagnose hearing issues correctly. To work as an audiologist in the Air Force, you will need to have a doctoral degree in audiology as well as at least two years of experience working before you can enlist and complete the mandatory officer's training course.

Operating Room Nurse

As an operating room nurse in the Air Force, you will work on a team with other medical professionals assisting in a variety of medical procedures and surgeries. Nurses are a vital part of this team, as they often spend the most time with patients before, during, and after the surgery to make sure a patient's needs are met and they are well-cared for. Because of all the time they spend with patients, it is important that nurses are able to communicate and listen well to provide patients with the information they need and to understand their concerns. In addition, operating room nurses may find themselves in stressful situations which require them to be calm and focused as well as make good decisions, skills that are very helpful in the Air Force in general. To become an operating room nurse in the Air Force, you will need either a bachelor's or master's degree in nursing, at least a year of working experience, and will then need to complete the officer's training course.

Biological Laboratory Officer

Biological laboratory officers play a very important role in determining the presence of disease and providing accurate diagnoses by performing various laboratory tests. These medical professionals typically work in a medical lab analyzing different body fluids and tissue samples, which are often ordered by a physician who needs the results of these labs to properly treat patients. As a member of the Air Force, biological laboratory officers will need to possess a high level of analytical skills and be very detail-oriented to be successful. To become a biological laboratory officer in the Air Force, you will first need to obtain a bachelor's degree in a field like medical technology before completing the officer's training course.


Psychiatrists are also an essential part of the Air Force's medical personnel. Much like in civilian life, psychiatrists are doctors that focus on mental health and help individuals manage various mental health problems. Because some mental health issues may be brought on by stressful situations, like those that could occur to members of the Air Force, psychiatrists are very important in diagnosing and treating the mental health problems of airmen and women, as well as helping them maintain and care for their overall health. To become a psychiatrist in the Air Force, you will need to attend medical school and complete a psychiatry-specific residency program before enlisting in the Air Force and completing officer's training school.

Flight Surgeon

Because of the nature of the Air Force, there are some medical conditions and problems that arise due to conditions related to flight. As a flight surgeon, you will use specialized skills and knowledge to provide treatment to pilots and other enlisted Air Force members who suffer from these types of problems. This job may require you to travel and provide care in emergency situations, so it is very important to be able to think critically, problem-solve, and be able to work while under pressure in stressful situations. To become a flight surgeon in the Air Force, you will need to complete medical school and a residency program before enlisting in the Air Force and completing officer's training school.

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