Bashir Umar had been on patrol duties with other colleagues at an airport in the northern state of Kano when he discovered the cash. He then called the phone number that was written on the package and returned the cash to the owner.
He was promoted from aircraftman to the rank of corporal, a promotion that should have taken him 10 years to achieve, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.
He was also given a letter of commendation.
At Thursday's event where he was honoured, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar said Mr Umar "displayed an uncommon act of integrity by returning the money to the owner".
Mr Umar, who was present at the event with his parents, said returning the money was part of the discipline he got from home and in service.
Earlier in the week, President Muhammadu Buhari urged Nigerians "especially the youth, to emulate such [a] worthy gesture", according to a statement from his spokesperson.