Air Force/Getting selected for pilot training


Well-Known Member
I know that one of the many factors for getting selected into pilot training after becoming an officer in the Air Force is that people with technical degrees (math/engineering/etc) seem to have a higher chance of getting in. I'm an International Business w/ emphasis in Management major transferring into SDSU (along with AF-ROTC). I'm transferring to SDSU as a junior next year and should be done with my Bachelor's two years after. I am very interested in this major, but also have an interest in mechanical engineering.

My question is this: do I have a good shot at getting selected to become a pilot in the Air Force with my IB major??? I do NOT want to have to change my major for the third time and mess up my transfer ability to SDSU and have to start all over again with my transfer pre-req's. I have a 3.8 GPA at my community college (3.2 in high school). Maybe I can minor in a technical field? Any suggestions?

Mike Lewis

Shadow Administrator
Staff member
I think the issue regarding technical majors versus non-technical one is based on your commissioning source. Based on recent posts in the Military Forum, I believe that right now, if you went to apply for OTS, they won't look at you unless you have a technical degree. One of the reasons for this is that the manning in the developmental engineering career field is less than 50%; therefore, they are doing everything they can to try to attract more engineers to fill those slots. As far as most other career fields, they have most of what they need, and they are filling those shortages through Academy and ROTC graduates. So, the place where technical versus non-technical comes in is if you are applying for OTS.

Now, you said you were going to be trasferring to SDSU with AFROTC? Does that mean that you have two years of ROTC in or are you going to be starting at that point? After your sophomore year, you will receive a slot for pilot, navigator, missileer, technical, non-rated ops, or non-tech; that guarantees you a slot towards a commission (assuming that you maintain the grades, etc). These are all based on the manning requirements of the year you are projected to be commissioned. The only difference a technical degree will make is if you plan on going into the technical career field; all other fields are open to pretty much any degree. That being the case, you will be offered a slot at the time in which you attend Field Training.

So, back to your question: will a technical degree improve your chances for a pilot slot? Probably not. It might improve your chances for a commissioning slot, as the AF is really hurting for engineers.

[But here is my word of advice: you need to watch out; if you enter as an engineer and try to transfer to pilot training, you will need the support of your boss. With the AF hurting for engineers, some bosses will try to talk you out of transferring to pilot training or make it difficult for you so they don't lose you. My advice would be to be up front about your intentions, reassure them that you will remain focused on the here and now mission at hand (engineering), and continue to work hard up until you take off for UPT. I've worked with a lot of engineers, and some made it to UPT and some didn't; this is the way it worked for most who made it.]

Things that will help you get a pilot slot: good grades, strong AFOQT scores, flying experience, and probably most important of all is the commander's recommendation.

In my career, very few of the military pilots I met were engineering majors. In fact, most of them had degrees such as international business, human factors, English, history (I met a LOT of pilots who had history degrees). I also met a pilot who had a degree in music! The only time a technical degree has any issue on a pilot is if you want to become a test pilot; those slots require engineering and physics degrees.

I'd say your best bet would be to remain in your current program with your strengths and high grades. I would go talk to the ROTC detachment at SDSU and tell them you are on your way. You are going to need the support of the PAS there to get a pilot slot, so I would go and introduce myself over there and get their help right now before I transferred over there, and see what advice they have for you.

Good luck!


New Member
No your degree will not matter. In fact, when I was in the ROTC many of the guys that had engineering degrees were pushed in into those fields. The guys that did get a slot had a communications, Buisness, and Travel Agent (No joke ASU offered some kind of degree in Travel Specialist BS). I have a degree in political science and I received a slot with the USMC. More than anything your commanders rating, grades, and test scores will be most important. I would advise you to stay ROTC, slots to OTS are extremely hard to come by right now. Hope this helps.


Well-Known Member
I've been working with a USAF recruiter for some time, and if you are trying to get a pilot or nav slot, your degree does not matter. Grades, AFOQT scores, whether you have your PPL, and your age all play a part. But as the previous poster pointed out, OTS slots for UPT are few-most go to the academy and ROTC. If you want to do it, do it now-I was just turned down for an age waiver, even for a nav slot (I'm 30).


Well-Known Member
Everyone else is right. Degrees have very little to do with pilot slots. That may, however, aid in getting you a scholarship. For example, I transfered in as a biology/pre-med and they offered me a full-ride scholarship just for selecting an engineering degree (even though I never used it). It all depends on "the needs of the Air Force" or so they say.

Commander's rating and your grades are the two largest contributors to your pilot rating. Other things like your BAT test and AFOQT scores rank in there also.

For the AFOQT, go to your local library and check out the AFOQT book. I can't even begin to tell you how much it helped to have an idea of what the test was like. You should be able to find the test book with all the other ACT/SAT/MCAT/etc.... books.

Although the AFOQT doesn't count as much as other things, when going in to a ROTC detachment your transfer grades and AFOQT scores can make a good impression.