Flight Surgeon

Keep aircraft and spacecraft crews in healthy condition.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
~ $172,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Flight Surgeons do?

Thirty thousand feet in the air is not the best place to get sick. Neither is 300 miles above the Earth while orbiting in outer space. A Flight Surgeon is trained to evaluate and treat military personnel on airplanes, and to medically prepare NASA Astronauts for their journey into space.

Despite the title “Flight Surgeon,” performing surgery rarely lands on this medical professional’s daily agenda. When you’re a Flight Surgeon, you instead practice preventive medicine, which means you try to spot a health or safety problem before it starts. During routine exams, you monitor a crew for any signs of illness or mental problems, such as depression or significant stress.

Other duties depend on what type of flight crew you’re working with. You fly on aircrafts from time to time to monitor crew performance, make notes about safety violations, and examine team morale. Identifying potential causes of stress or health and safety violations improves working conditions and treatment plans.

When it comes to Astronauts, you won’t be riding on the space shuttle with them. That’s why it’s essential that you teach each crewmember the first aid needed to treat everything from a mild burn to a heart attack.

Of course, your job includes the duties of a standard Doctor too. You treat sick crewmembers during flight and, if necessary, get them further treatment. Your job gives you a sense of pride for helping others, and nothing compares to the adrenaline rush of parachuting a patient out of a plane to receive help below.

Should I be a Flight Surgeon?

You should have a doctoral degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Logical Thinker: You take a step-by-step approach to analyze information and solve problems.

  • Also known as: Flight Doctor

    How to become a Flight Surgeon

    We recommend at least a Doctoral degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's. Check out these schools offering Flight Surgeon-related education!
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