Erbium doped AlN epilayers (AlN:Er) have been grown by metal organic chemical vapor deposition. The 1.54 μm emission properties were probed by photoluminescence (PL) emission spectroscopy and compared with those of GaN:Er. Optimum intensity of the 1.54 μm emission from AlN:Er was obtained for growth temperature at 1050 °C. It was found that the emission intensity from AlN:Er is higher than that from GaN:Er for above and below energy gap, as well as resonant excitation. A significant narrowing of the infrared Er3+ PL lines was observed when pumping resonantly into an intra-4f transition. The integrated intensity of the 1.54 μm emission shows a decrease by a factor of only 1.2 between 10 K and 300 K.