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This article is about military ranks. For civilian and generic usage, see Aviator. For other uses, see Airman (disambiguation).

Common Anglophone military ranks
Navies Armies Air forces
Admiral of the fleet Marshal /
field marshal
Marshal of
the air force
Admiral General Air chief marshal
Vice admiral Lieutenant general Air marshal
Rear admiral Major general Air vice-marshal
Commodore Brigadier Air commodore
Captain Colonel Group captain
Commander Lieutenant colonel Wing commander
Major /
Lieutenant Captain Flight lieutenant
Sub-lieutenant Lieutenant Flying officer
Ensign 2nd lieutenant Pilot officer
Midshipman Officer cadet Officer cadet
Seamen, soldiers and airmen
Warrant officer Sergeant major /
warrant officer
Warrant officer
Petty officer Sergeant Sergeant
Leading seaman Corporal Corporal
Seaman Private Aircraftman

An airman is a member of the air component of a nation's armed service. In the United States Air Force, it can also refer to a specific enlisted rank. More informally, it can refer to any member of an air force, or to any pilot, aviator, or aircrewman, military or civilian, male or female. The equivalent in the British Royal Air Force and some other Commonwealth countries is aircraftman/woman.

In civilian aviation usage, the term airman is analogous to the term sailor in nautical usage. (U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard members are almost all sailors, even on naval and Coast Guard shore bases, but the subset of these who actually serve at sea in ships and boats are also "seamen". Further, people in these services who are involved in flying are also "airmen".) In the American Federal Aviation Administration usage, an airman is any holder of an airman's certificate, male or female. This certificate is issued to those who qualify for it by the Federal Aviation Administration Airmen Certification Branch.

United States Air Force

In the U.S. Air Force, Airman is a general term which can refer to any member of the United States Air Force, and also a specific enlisted rank. The rank of Airman (abbreviated "AMN") is the second enlisted rank from the bottom, just above the rank of Airman Basic, and just below that of Airman First Class. Since the Air Force was established 1947, all of the various ranks of "Airman" have always included females, and in this context, the word "man" means "human being" or human resource. Former U.S. Air Force ranks included Airman Second Class and Airman Third Class.[Note 1] The current E-2 paygrade rank of Airman was called Airman Third Class from 1952 to 1967.

A person with the rank of Airman Basic is typically promoted to the rank of Airman after six months of active duty service in the Air Force, if that member had signed up for an enlistment period of at least four years of active duty. On the other hand, an enlistee could be promoted to the rank of Airman immediately after completing Air Force basic training (and thus paid somewhat more) given one of several additional qualifications:

Those enlistees who have qualified for these early promotions to the rank of Airman are allowed to wear their single Airman insignia stripe during the Air Force basic training graduation ceremony at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. They also receive their retroactive pay increment that brings them up to the pay grade for an Airman upon their completion of basic training. (Thus, it is as if they has enlisted as Airmen on the first day, as far as their pay is concerned. However, if they don't complete basic training, but rather they get discharged, they don't get the extra pay.)

While at the rank of Airman, the duties of enlisted personnel include adjusting to the Air Force way of military life and becoming proficient in their Air Force duty specialties. Note that upon leaving basic training, all Airmen enter a period of many weeks or many months of training at Air Force schools in their duty specialties (their "jobs") that they and the Air Force have selected for them depending on their aptitudes and interests, and the needs of the Air Force for various specialties. For Airmen with high aptitudes, some of these training programs include more than one school and take one year or more to complete. Some Airmen are preparing for duty in highly skilled Air Force jobs including as technicians for multiple types of airplanes, long-range missiles, helicopters, jet engines and turboprop engines, electronics, radars, explosive ordnance and weapons, air-to-air missiles, nuclear weapons, computers, communication systems, high-technology security systems; technicians and assistants in the medical field, including nurses, physician's assistants, dental assistants, and many more.

United States Navy

In the U.S. Navy, airman is the enlisted rank that corresponds to the pay grade of E-3 in the Navy's aviation field. Airman pay grade, but it is just below the rank of petty officer third class, pay grade E-4.[Note 3]

United States Coast Guard

In the U.S. Coast Guard, the ranks are very similar or identical to the ones in the U.S. Navy, and a Coast Guard airman is identical in rank and pay to an airman in the Navy. Coast Guard airman is the enlisted rank that corresponds to the pay grade of E-3 in the Coast Guard's aviation field. (Note that airman includes females; here "man" means "human being".) Airman is just above the Coast Guard rank of airman apprentice, seaman apprentice, fireman apprentice which is the E-2 pay grade, but it is just below the rank of petty officer third class, E-4 pay grade.

See also


  1. ABH: aviation handler
  2. ABE: aviation equipment
  3. ABF: aviation fuel
  4. AC: air traffic controlman
  • AD: aviation machinist mate
  • AE: aviation electrician's mate
  • AG: aviation aerographer's mate
  • AM: aviation structural mechanic
  • AME: aviation structural mechanic (egress)
  • AO: aviation ordnanceman
  • AS: aviation support equipment technician
  • AT: aviation electronics technician
  • AW: aviation warfare systems operator
  • AZ: aviation maintenance administrationman
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