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Civilian Salary Requirements

As you weigh the pros and cons of returning to civilian life, please ensure you carefully consider the financial aspects.  Over the last few years, you’ve grown accustomed to a certain standard of living.  The last thing you want to do is lower your standards when you return to civilian life!  By carefully completing this handout, you’ll be better prepared to negotiate the salary you’ll need to maintain your current living standards.


Estimated Monthly Cost




Currently, you receive housing at no cost  or are provided a tax-free allowance to help cover your expenses.

Electricity, Water, Garbage Pickup, Telephone, Cable TV


If you live on base, your basic utilities (electricity, water, garbage pickup) are provided at no cost.



Currently, your meals are provided at no cost, or you receive a tax-free allowance to help defray the cost of meals. Make sure to add 29% to your estimate, as that’s the average annual savings you realize for shopping at the commissary

Medical Insurance


Medical care is provided to you free of charge. If you need specialized tests done while on active duty, your provider doesn’t have to gain approval.  Many HMOs have strict criteria for providing diagnostic procedures.  Also, many insurance plans charge an additional premium for providing maternity care.

Prescription medications


As an Air Force member, prescription drugs are provided free of cost.  Also, by taking part in the “Partners in Care” program, many over-the-counter medications are provided free.

Dental Coverage


Complete preventive, diagnostic and operative dental care is provided free of charge to all active-duty members.  Low-cost insurance is available for family members.

Work Clothes


Each year, you receive a tax-free stipend to help defray the cost of purchasing and maintaining your work attire.

Car payment


Car insurance


Several insurance companies offer preferred rates for military members and their families.  The savings can really add up!

Car registration


Many states offer reduced registration fees for active-duty military personnel.

Gas, oil, minor maintenance


Fuel costs are typically less on base.  Contracts with reputable repair facilities help save money in the long run.

Monthly contribution toward retirement


Less than 40% of civilian firms offer a retirement plan, and most are contributory.  The Air Force offers a non-contributory retirement plan, payable after 20 years of service.   At a minimum, plan on depositing $166.66 per month into an IRA.  That way, you’ll have some kind of nest egg to use in your golden years.

Membership at fitness center


Free use of fitness centers on base.  Most offer low-cost specialty classes.

After-hours entertainment (movies, club, social gatherings)


Low cost, first-run movies.  Membership in clubs available.  Plenty of opportunity to socialize with friends and co-workers at office and base functions.



Don’t forget you currently receive 30 days of vacation with pay each year.  When calculating your required salary, take into consideration that most employers offer two weeks vacation after the first year.

Education and training


75% tuition assistance, no restriction on course of study.  MGIB benefits for veterans.  No-cost professional training, and upgrade courses offered at no cost.  In fact, we pay you to go to skill-related classes!

Life Insurance


Guaranteed insurability regardless of your health.  Extremely low cost insurance with coverage that remains the same as you get older.

Preparation of legal documents


No charge for preparation of Powers of Attorney, wills, living trusts, etc. while you’re in the Air Force.  Free legal assistance also provided.

Child care


The Air Force offers subsidized child care at reasonable costs.  All providers are certified.  On-base care offers a safe environment for your children.

Recreation activities (golf course, bowling center, hobby shops, etc)


Recreational opportunities at very competitive rates.  Golf course, bowling centers, marinas, Armed Forces Recreation Centers all help you enjoy your time off while saving money.



Do your homework.  Check out the average salary for the job you’re seeking at the location you’re moving to.  Will you be able to maintain your current standard of living?

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