Joining the Air Force requires a major commitment. It’s a life-changing opportunity where you will experience immense growth while being a part of a tight-knit community of others who are passionate about the work that they do. The jobs are often physically and mentally demanding. As with all branches of the military, there are guidelines, ways of life, and standards that are expected to be upheld, but that also has a little bit of wiggle room with the proper waivers and communication with the right people.
Let’s take a look at the Air Force height and weight standards, and some other aspects of life in the Air Force.
Air Force Height Standards
Height standards are probably the most restrictive within the Air Force. If you’ve reached your full-grown height and are either too tall or too short to meet the requirements and standards, then you don’t have many other options. You can’t make yourself shrink or grow. The reason these standards are so important is that many in the Air Force are flying a variety of aircraft.
If you don’t meet the height requirements in either direction, it’s possible that you physically won’t be capable of performing the duties required to operate the aircraft safely and effectively. Applicants who are pursuing pilot and aircrew careers are typically successful in pursuing these jobs.
If you are significantly above or below average height, you may be required to undergo special screening to ensure that you can perform the operational duties required of the position. But the Air Force encourages people of all heights to apply for the jobs.
Air Force Weight Standards
The Air Force does not offer a weight reduction program. When applying, you must meet the weight requirements that match your height to be eligible for the positions you are applying for. The Air Force notes that any applicant must be a minimum of five pounds under their maximum weight at any time. So if your maximum weight is 155 pounds, you need to weigh 150 pounds or less. The Air Force does make exceptions if someone is within five pounds under or over their maximum weight and has a muscular build.
The height and weight requirements are listed below.
|Height (inches)||Max Weight (lbs)|
How To Prepare for the Air Force Height and Weight Standards
Since the Air Force does not offer a weight reduction program, it’s important to be proactive if this is the path that you are choosing for your life. If your doctor clears you for vigorous physical exercise, it’s recommended to start a training regimen where you are working out at least three to five times per week for 14 weeks ideally. And to start this fitness regimen at least six weeks before your intended military training departure to ensure that you are physically prepared for what lies ahead.
Every career with the Air Force typically begins with Basic Military Training or Officer Training School. There is a huge process for examining and analyzing your physical fitness before being admitted into the Air Force due to the physically demanding nature of the job. At the Military Entrance Processing Station (commonly called MEPS), you will be fully evaluated by a doctor, have blood and urinalysis, as well as eye, hearing, and range of motion tests to ensure that you are in optimal shape.
Other Requirements for Joining the Air Force
There are many other requirements for joining the Air Force beyond the height and weight standards outlined above. Age requirements vary for joining the Air Force, depending on the work that you intend to do. Oftentimes there are cut-off ages, but with the possibility of waiving the age requirement if you are a little older than what is required.
Vision requirements. Your vision will be tested before being allowed entry in the Air Force. You are allowed an eye refraction level of no worse than + or – 8.0. Those applying to be a pilot will have even stricter guidelines for vision since seeing clearly is an integral aspect of flying.
There are many other requirements beyond these, each with their own flexibility and requirements depending on whether you have body art (tattoos), what your education is like, how old you are, what you plan to do in the military, if you intend to join as enlisted or as an officer, among other topics like your belief and ability to bear arms.
How To Prepare for the Height and Weight Standards
There’s not much you can do to prepare your height for the requirements needed for whichever Air Force career you are pursuing, as it’s not an easy task to grow or shrink your body. But you can take steps to ensure that you feel physically fit before leaving training, as well as falling within the weight standards required of you at the time of application.
The Air Force offers a training program that you can follow before you leave for Basic Military Training or Officer Training School. Even if you are an athlete, you might find the rigorous physical experience of military training to be challenging. You can avoid some of these challenges by preparing physically ahead of time. You can find the full Air Force training regimen document here. Some of the suggestions for a fitness regimen include, but aren’t limited to:
- Building up your running stamina slowly, until you feel like you can run for 30 to 40 minutes without stopping.
- Push-ups and sit-ups with the proper form outlined in the document.
- Stretching before and after exercise to warm up and protect your muscles, as well as to promote flexibility and avoid injury.
The document breaks down a suggested fitness regimen for 14 weeks. Week one consists of a five-minute stretch and warm-up, two minutes of sit-up and push-up intervals, a five-minute walk, a one-minute jog, followed by a three- to five-minute walk, followed by a two-minute stretch. And then week 14 ends with a five-minute stretch and warm-up, two-minute sit-up and push-up intervals, a three-minute jog, a 17-minute run, a three- to five-minute walk, and a two-minute stretch.
Joining the Air Force
Deciding which military branch to join (or even the decision to join the military) can be a daunting task. There are many things to consider when choosing what career you’d feel most successful at. The Air Force encourages people from all walks of life to apply for a career with them, and if you don’t meet the requirements for certain things, there are sometimes options and alternatives available to ensure that you can follow a path that you are still happy with and proud of accomplishing. The Air Force height and weight standards might be strict, but they are that way for good reason.
The Air Force height and weight standards are set up to ensure that anyone who applies will be able to perform the operations required of their position, as well as ensure that each individual can succeed at the rigorous physical fitness and exertion that is required of them, sometimes on a daily basis. When considering your physical fitness, it’s also important to remember that mental fitness and aptitude are equally and vitally important in the Air Force. While training your body, continue to prepare and train your mind for what lies ahead.