Career Paths In The Air Force


Job Growth Prospects And Outlook In The Armed Forces

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With the war in Iraq ended and the drawdown continuing in Afghanistan, the Armed Forces are becoming smaller by design and out of budget necessity. As shown below, the total number of active duty military personnel has been steadily declining:

2013 1,433,150

The need for new service members won’t be as great in the near term as it has been in the last decade. But with ISIS still strong, and other threats still developing, there still will be a need to meet strength goals and to make up for attrition due to service members getting out or retiring.

According to the latest data available, below is a look at how the Armed Services looks now and what it is projected to look like in the next five years:

Cyber Systems Operations Specialist

Youll be part of the Air Forces Cyber Systems Operations, which leverages your skills to defend and maintain Americas freedom in cyberspace. Do you have a knack for identifying vulnerabilities? Can you speak an unknown language? Are you comfortable with coding new software or writing code that tackles safety issues? You might just be perfect for this job. With the Air Force behind you, who knows how far away your next adventure will take you!

US Air Forces Cyber Systems Operations Specialist job can offer you the opportunity to not only serve your country but also learn the latest in cyber security while making a difference in the world.

There are many reasons why you should join the US Air Force as a Cyber Systems Operations Specialist. Youll work with some of the most advanced systems in the world and have a chance to do something thats going to change not just your life but also those of future generations. Its a career that is not only challenging, intriguing, and rewarding but imperative for our national security.

What Is An Air Force Officer

An air force officer is a military member who holds a commission from the government. This means that they serve in an official capacity under the command of an officer. For example, privates are enlisted soldiers who serve under officers. On the other hand, naval officers are commissioned by Congress and report to civilian leadership while serving on U.S. Navy ships.

As an air force officer, you would be employed by the Department of Defense and report to a military officer. You and your fellow officers would lead units composed primarily of enlisted airmen and tasked with executing specific responsibilities on behalf of the United States Air Force . For example, you might oversee aircraft maintenance or serve as a liaison between your unit and local authorities.

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Tar Heel Veteran Prepares For Career In Air Force Public Affairs

Caitlin Russell spent the past six years working on public affairs in the Air Force, flying in Black Hawks and documenting military training exercises. Now she’s in Chapel Hill gaining new skills to take her career to the next level.

When Caitlin Russell graduated from high school, she had no idea she could have a career in public relations. It wasnt until she enlisted in the Air Force in 2016 that the career path set in.

I just didnt really know about it, she said. But looking back, it makes sense. Ive always been a very creative person. Ive always liked English class and reading. It made sense.

She spent the next six years as a public affairs photojournalist, first as a public affairs specialist with the 673rd Air Base Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and then as a news desk editor for the Defense Media Agencys Air Force Production Office at Fort Meade, Maryland.

The new direction led to once-in-a-lifetime opportunities while supporting the Air Forces mission.

I got to fly on Black Hawks and take photos out the door. Ive gotten to go out with the Marines on some of their training exercises out in the middle of nowhere Alaska, Russell said. I got to dangle my feet out of an MC-130 and just take photos.

Ive definitely learned a lot, she said. Im learning more about the details of public affairs. Its more of getting into the nitty gritty, not just the overall aspects of the job.

Jump To An Air Force Officer Job

Career Paths Air Force (Esp) Student

Special Tactics Officers are one of the most highly trained individuals in the Air Force.

Their primary responsibility is to be the subject matter expert overall command and control operations for the Special Tactics forces.

They provide air traffic control support and global access for coalition forces.

In addition to having a bachelors degree and attending Officer training, those in this role must meet strict marine diving, parachutist, and ATC duty physical requirements, maintain water confidence standards and maintain combat controller certification.

This is considered one of the best officer jobs because the experience relates to careers in diving, parachuting, or military contracting.

Also, as an enlisted member, Special Reconnaissance has closely related duties.

Both the Special Tactics Officer and the Special Reconnaissance personnel will complete reconnaissance missions whenever necessary.

They must be trained to deploy in any way possible, at any time.

Because Special Operations covers so many specialties, this field is an in-demand job.

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Military Working Dog Handler

hoto by Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Boutte

Love dogs? If you work as a military working dog handler, you and your canine counterpart will be a part of the militarys law enforcement sector. You must be a dog lover as youll spend a lot of time together on bases looking for drugs and explosives. Your dog will work as your partner daily to keep military installations safe.

What Youll Do:

  • Earn college credit Airman earn credits toward criminal justice degrees
  • Part of an elite group Earn the Blue Beret, a symbol of protection
  • Hangout with dogs Every day is bring your dog to work day
  • Potential to work with Secret Service Can work alongside top security detail

Career requirements include: You must already be a Security Forces specialist with a minimum 18 months of service who also happens to love working with dogs. Youll need both physical and mental toughness to handle day-to-day duties. An interest in training in law enforcement and combat tactics is a must.

Learn more about Air Force MWD Handler opportunities here.

What Is An Air Force Pilot


An air force pilot operates aircraft for the U.S. air force, such as fighter jets, bombers, transport planes, and unmanned aerial vehicles . They have expert aviation skills from years of training and are well-versed in flight operations, including combat missions and transports. Aside from operating aircraft, an air force pilot may also be responsible for conducting basic maintenance on their aircraft, as well as training other air force personnel. Aspiring air force pilots have a long way ahead of them. To become an air force pilot, you would need to enter the air force, meet officer qualifications, attend training school, and pass subsequent flight training programs. You may also earn a bachelor’s degree after joining the air force, but it is not necessary nor required. If you do want to go to college, a degree in aviation or aerospace engineering can be extremely helpful. Once you become an air force pilot, your earning potential is around $94,000 a year, on average. As you gain more experience, your salary will also rise, as well as your rank.

Also Check: Marine Corps Pilot Career Path

Pme For Field Grade Officers

As a Field Grade Officer youre expected to complete the next level of PME, called Air Command and Staff College . Like SOS, ACSC can be completed in person or by correspondence. The difference is that not everyone gets to attend in-residence, so it becomes a competition.

Youll work as an ADO or in a Group or Wing job while you wait for your shot at ACSC. Although youre officially not required to complete the correspondence version first, you may feel some pressure to do so. ACSC in correspondence is a nightmare right now. It has several self-paced courses, but there are also four live/proctored courses that are only offered a few times per year. If you dont complete the self-paced courses in time to register for the next section of the proctored course, youll be stuck doing nothing until the next opportunity. Best case, it takes seven months to complete ACSC by correspondence.

Personally, I recommend signing up for ACSC and knocking it out as soon as possible, meaning the day you find out that youve been selected for promotion to Major. It will be a pain in the neck but its better to have it done and not need it, than the other way around.

The 5 Best Air Force Jobs For Airmen

Client Systems Technician: SSgt Hanshaw

The U.S. Air Force helps protect America from threats in the skies, in space, and even in our communication network. You might not think about it, but the USAF does a lot more than fly planes. Because of this, theres a wide range of jobs required to keep this important branch of the military functioning at its best. Airmen have plenty of options, some obvious, some maybe not so much. Weve compiled a list of some of the best Air Force jobs available. If youre ready to start your career in the Air Force, be sure to look into these fields.

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Us Armed Forces Strength By Branch

Military Branch
Could go down to 175,000, if sequestered

* Note: Numbers do not include 335,000 National Guard or 195,000 Reserve members.

As shown above, the branch with the most overall opportunity for growth is the Navy. The other branches are projected to shrink as a whole. Within the Army, the Special Forces is projected to grow as they have shown they are best suited for the type of combat actions encountered now and currently projected for the near-term.

Company Grade Officer Leadership Opportunities

Your first real leadership opportunity as a Company Grade Officer will be as a Shop Chief for one of these departments. Some of the other military branches give the Air Force a hard time about not giving its officers leadership opportunities early enough in their careers. Those people simply dont understand how the Air Force works. Shop Chief is absolutely a leadership position, and youre vulnerable for the position as a 1Lt.

Youll potentially be in charge of officers, enlisted Airmen, and even civilians. Youll answer to your Squadron Operations Officer and/or Commander . Your ability to effectively lead your people will directly affect your squadrons ability to go to war. Its a lot of responsibility for someone in his or her early 20s.

Shop assignments are functional areas that keep a squadron running. Although a Shop Chief has authority over the people in the shop, this is not a command job, per se. Each Air Force Squadron is also divided up into three or more Flights. Each Flight has a Commander who reports directly to the Squadron Commander. This person is usually a Captain , though Ive seen unique circumstances where Flight Commanders held ranks from 1Lt through Colonel. Each Flight Commander has an Assistant, sometimes abbreviated AFC.

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What Is The Application Process

The first step to becoming an air force officer is completing and submitting a resume and academic transcript. You can do so using the Virtual Military Personnel Flight website. From there, you will need to answer questions about your background and qualifications and take some tests.

The next step in the application process is to meet with an Air Force Officer Recruiter, who will review your qualifications and put you in contact with the nearest recruiting unit. After meeting with the recruiter, the application process is complete!

Upgrades And Your Future

Career Paths Air Force (Esp) Student

I feel like many pilots try to maximize their progress because we tend toward Type A personalities who want to excel no matter what we do. However, its important to understand the short- and long-term career impacts of your ability to progress as a pilot.

Theres enough variation in individual units and situations that nobody has ever established a firm timeline for when a pilot should achieve each upgrade. However, you do need to work to be ready for your next upgrade as soon as you become eligible. Most fighter pilots will be eligible for 2FLUG with a few hundred hours, and most crewed aircraft will consider a copilot for AC upgrade around 1,000 hours. If youre a 750 hour wingman or a 1,500 hour copilot, people will notice.

This isnt the end of the world, and as I mentioned some situations make a big difference here. Most pilots get a lot of flying while theyre deployed. If an experienced pilot started a deployment just short of having enough hours to upgrade, he or she could return home with a lot of hours. Your squadron will know this, and it wont be counted against you. However, if you havent been picked for upgrade because your knowledge or skills are lacking, you will earn a reputation that you dont want.

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How To Become An Air Force Pilot

If you’re interested in becoming an air force pilot, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We’ve determined that 45.1% of air force pilots have a bachelor’s degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 7.6% of air force pilots have master’s degrees. Even though most air force pilots have a college degree, it’s possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Passing The Selection Board

Every officer application is reviewed by either the Officer Training School Selection Board or Air Force Recruiting Services, depending on your path and profession. Each committee evaluates both objective and subjective factors to determine if a candidate is a proper fit. No one factor can cause selection or rejection.Selection boards are typically held biannually in February and August. However, the 2021 selection boards for Air Force and Space Force, including all programs, are completed for the remainder of the fiscal year. Contact your local Line Officer recruiter to learn more about the upcoming selection board schedule.

Scheduled boards are open to all Air Force Active Duty Enlisted, Air Force National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and Civilians.


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What Are Some Common Misconceptions About Becoming An Air Force Officer

One of the most common misconceptions is that all Air Force officers fly planes. While many officers in the U.S. Air Force do fly, there are many other careers for those with a service-oriented mindset.

For instance, there are several other career fields that an Air Force officer might choose to work in, such as education officers, legal officers, or medical officers. These jobs require the same level of commitment and dedication as being a pilot.

Another common misconception is that you need to be a pilot to become an officer in the U.S. Air Force. If you are interested in becoming a pilot, there are several opportunities for you, including Officer Training School and the Air Force Academy .

Career Paths In The Armed Forces

Air Force announces initiative to boost diversity

Serving in the Armed Forces has always been a popular career option. The reasons for joining are as varied as the individuals themselves. Many serve to be part of something larger than themselves and to do what they feel is their patriotic duty. Others do it for the higher education financial aid benefits, such as the Student Loan Repayment program, Post 9/11 GI Bill®, Tuition Assistance and Tuition Top-Up. Still others want to be on the cutting edge of technology or pursue something that is challenging and life-changing.

* GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs . More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at.

Career paths can include serving at various grade levels: Commissioned Officer, Warrant Officer or Enlisted. Within each level are several fields and numerous jobs within those fields. Below is a sampling of some of the jobs available:

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What Is An Air Force Job

An Air Force job is the same as any other job. But an Air Force job is a job in the United States Air Force. There are many different jobs in the Air Force, including pilots, cooks, and mechanics.

A field of work that an individual has been trained for in the military, or any career that has a uniformed service in the armed forces.

Alternatively, we can tell, an Air Force job is a military position that is performed by a member of the Air Force. The different jobs are divided into different categories such as operations, maintenance, and support. The Air Force has a total of 97 different categories of jobs. A career in the Air Force can be rewarding with a variety of duties and career paths available.

Air Force Jobs Offer Exciting Adventures

The U.S. Air Force always aims high. No matter which career you want to settle on, your role will be a part of a bigger mission to defend and protect our country.

This Air Force jobs list just scratches the surface of some of the opportunities that await.

For more role descriptions, visit the U.S. Airforces website to explore the career section. You may be surprised to find theres a career for nearly every interest and passion out there that provide personal growth and professional development.

Want to learn about amazing jobs in other branches? Check out these posts:

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