Career in Air force- A guide for Air force as a Career Option

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Indian Air Force can boast of manning the trained personnel and equipping with the best material force. It is engaged in defending and guarding the skies of the country, against external aggression from the air.

Both, with regard to defense and offense, aircraft is the major constituent and the pilot is the chief personnel in the organization. In addition to the personnel in the flying branch, the following ground branches have large career options.

  • Administrative Branch
  • Logistic Branch
  • Technical Branch
  • Accounts Branch
  • Education Branch
  • Fighter Controller
  • Air Traffic Controller
  • Medical Branch
  • Meteorology Branch

Flying Branch

The Flying Branch has the following career options

  • The four categories are i) Fighters and Fighter Bombers; ii) Aircraft Flyers; iii) Transport and Helicopters and iv) Bombers.
  • A Pilot acquires specialization in a particular aircraft and is deployed for flying duties.
  • Fighter pilots get trained in air fights for shooting down aircraft of enemies, besides attacking ground targets of the territories of enemies.
  • Fighter bombers drop bombs, missiles and other explosives with the help of radars, electronic devices, and cameras.
  • Navigators assist the Pilots for navigating to the targeted sites.
  • Transport Pilots carry out the logistic function for carrying materials, explosives, army personnel, weapons, guns and light vehicles.
  • Helicopters are deployed for carrying materials, hardware, ration and personnel. They support both Army Air Force and Nave, as required.


Flying Branch

After completing a three-year course from the National Defense Academy, you can be inducted as a trainee pilot at the Air Force Academy. Age Limit; is 16 ½ to 19 years. After 10 +2 with Physics and Mathematics, you will be required to qualify yourself in the written examination conducted by the UPSC and Interview by the Service Selection Board (SSB).

You can get the application format from the Employment News, in which, the UPSC publishes an advertisement in April/ November.

Air force Academy

You have to take the Combined Defense Service (CDS) for joining the Academy directly, you have to be within the age group of 19 to 23 years, with educational qualification of Physics and Mathematics or Bachelor of Engineering.

An advertisement is published by UPSC in April/November. You have to qualify in a written examination conducted by the UPSC and an interview by the Service Selection Board. If you succeed, you can directly join the Air Force Academy for Pilot Training.

National Cadet Corps:

If you are Senior Division ‘C’ certificate holder, between 19 to 23 years of age and B. Sc with Physics and/or Mathematics or a B.E, you will have to face direct entrance interview conducted by the Service Selection Board.

Eligible Women

Should be unmarried or widows of service personnel, killed, while on duty and have no child. Age limit is 19 to 23 years, could be relaxed to 25 years for the one having Commercial Pilot License, B. Sc with Physics and/or Mathematics or B.E. Advertisements come in January and July in leading newspapers or the Employment News. If you succeed in the interview conducted by the Service Selection Board, you can join the Air Force Academy directly for Pilot training.


You can get entry to the Aeronautical Engineering Branch for Permanent or Short Service omission; through the University Campus Selection Scheme. Age limit is 18 to 28 years. You have the alternative option of direct entry after graduation.

Aeronautical Engineering (Electronics)

You can opt for either Permanent or Short Service Commission; if satisfy any of the following are the eligibility criteria

  • BE, Telecom or Electronics
  • Graduation in Communication Electronics and Computer Science and Engineering
  • Sc with Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics
  • Sc in Electronics from any of the University such as Madras, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Lucknow or Gujarat
  • Tech in Radio Physics and Electronics of Kolkata University.

Aeronautical Engineering (Mechanical)

  • Degree in Mechanical/Aeronautical/ Industrial Production or Mechanical Production Engineering
  • Sc with Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry

Advertisements, calling for Application are published in January and July, in the Employment News or leading Government Jobs Web Portal. Written examinations are conducted by UPSC and Interview by Service Selection Board.

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Ground Duties

You have the option of joining any of the branches such as Logistic, Administrative or Fight Controller or Air Traffic Controller. These are all Short Service Commission. Age Limit for Graduate is 20 to 23 and for Postgraduates, it is 20 to 25 years. Graduates need to secure more than 60% and the Post Graduates, above 50%.

If you have done MBA or PG Diploma in Business Administration of two years full-time course from any institute recognized by the AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education), with 50% marks or above, and if you are of the age group of 20 to 25, you are eligible to apply for any of the above posts.

If you are a law graduate with above 50% of marks, you can apply for Air Traffic Controller and Fighter Controller posts.

Advertisements are published in March for these posts in Employment News or leading newspapers. Advertisements for the Administrative Branch are published in January and July.

Accounts Branch

Required educational qualifications are B.Com with above 50% and M.Com with above 50% marks with age limit of 20 to 23 years for graduates and 20 to 25 for post Graduates. The age limit is 27 years for Chartered or Cost Accountants or Registered Incorporated Accountants. The advertisement comes in July and entrance interview is conducted by Short Service Board (SSB).

Education Branch

Required educational qualifications are MA/M. Sc with above 50% marks in English, Psychology, Statistics, Defense Studies, Computer Science, Mathematics or Physics. Also eligible is MBA with above 50% of marks having any two subjects, out of English, Statistics, Mathematics, Physics, Defense Service or Psychology, at B.A or B. Sc levels.

You are also eligible to apply, if you have completed two years PG Diploma in Business Administration from an institute, recognized by the AICTE; with above 50% marks. The age limit is relaxed to 27 years if you have done M. Ed or Ph.D. Advertisement comes out in July and the written entrance examinations are conducted by UPSC and the interview by SSB.

Meteorological Branch

The age limit is 20-25 years. Required educational qualifications are M.A/ M. Sc in Mathematics, M. Tech, Applied Mathematics or M. Tech in Atmospheric Science from IIT, Delhi, having 50% or above marks. Other eligible qualifications are PG in Meteorology, Geophysics, and Applied Physics, Physics, Oceanography with specialization in Meteorology. Advertisements come in July. Written entrance is conducted by UPSC and interview by SSB.

 Minimum requirement of height is 162 cm for all posts of Air Force. However, it is 157 for Gurkhas and those from Kumaon and Garwhal. It is 160 cm for those coming from Lakshadweep. The eyesight must be perfect or 6/6 vision.

Opportunities Jobs and Financial Benefits

You can opt for the permanent commission of 20 years or Short Service Commission of 7 years for any of the branches as mentioned above.

DesignationAfter years of ServicesSalaries in INR
Flying OfficerCommissioned8500 to 10,500
Flight Lieutenant5 Years9,600 to 11,400
Squadron Leader11 years11,600 to 14,850
Wing Commander16 to 21 Years13,500 to 17,100
Group Captain22 Years15,100 to 17,350
Air Commodore24 Years16,700 to 22,400
Air Vice Marshal26 years22,400 to 24,500
Air Chief Marshal28 years 30,000


The additional remuneration, known as the flying pay of Rs 9,000 per month is paid to the fighter pilots and Rs 7,000 to pilots of helicopters and transportation. Other benefits are Dearness Allowance, Travel Concession, Furnished accommodation, free ration, soft loans, group insurance and medical treatment.

Post-Service Career Prospects

After retirement, an Air Force pilot can take up service of commercial airlines. This is equally applicable to all the other branches. More and more flying clubs and adventure sports are coming, thus offering post-retirement career prospects to retired Air Force personnel.

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