Air Force Enlisted Rank
Enlisted ranks in the Air Force are divided into three tiers: Airmen (E-1 to E-4), noncommissioned officers (E-5 and E-6), and senior noncommissioned officers (E-7 to E-9). Notably, the Air Force uniquely grants NCO status at E-5, distinguishing it from other U.S. military branches. Eligibility for advanced enlistment at higher ranks, such as airman first class (E-3), is possible through criteria like earning college credits or participation in Junior ROTC, mirroring practices in the Army.
Air Force Officer Rank
There are three tiers of commissioned officers: Company-grade, field-grade, and general officers.
Company grade officers, encompassing pay grades O-1 to O-3, play key roles in administrative and small group leadership within their assigned flight. Notably, O-3 officers may hold authority over a flight, managing multiple airmen.
Moving up the hierarchy, field grade officers (O-4 to O-6) shoulder broader responsibilities, overseeing increased personnel and assuming command of squadrons, groups, or wings of varying sizes.
At the summit of the commissioned officer ranks are general officers (O-7 to O-10), holding the highest positions. They supervise commands comprising diverse wings, and ranks O-9 and above are often task-specific. The highest position in the Air Force is the General (O-10), and they assume the most senior positions, both at the Pentagon and in organizations like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).