As an Air Force Vet, I get asked by younger folks what it was like and if I had any recommendations for those considering enlisting. Some asking if I think “is it a good idea?” As with any branch of our military, if you got what it takes — Hell, Yeah!
However, the Air Force is selective of whom they enlist — but that shouldn’t be intimidating — instead know they need certain folks with the inclination and aptitude to do certain tasks because of the Air Force’s unique mission.
Basic Requirements to Join the Air Force:
- Be between 17 and 27 years of age.
- Be a U.S. citizen or legal, permanent resident.
- Have a high school diploma or have a GED with at least 15 college credits.
Sounds simple, right? In addition to the above, however, are aptitude tests and a physical that you also have to pass.
It’s not surprising that our modern professional Air Force takes pride in its reputation for military prowess based on unsurpassed technical excellence. Its pilots are the finest, chosen from the best of the best. However, ask any of those pilots why they are so good at defending our country, and they’ll be glad to tell you: It’s the support they get from the rest of the dedicated team that keeps their aircraft, avionics and weapons systems going.
Air Force Enlisted Must Have the Education
That dedicated military support team is made up of a team of highly qualified enlisted professionals. In fact, you are more likely to be struck by lightning than to find any more than a very few without at least a high school diploma as part of their educational background.
High Enlistment Standards
To enlist in the Air Force the applicant must score at least in the 36th percentile in the AFQT – Armed Forces Qualification Test. The floor is raised significantly for applicants without a High School Diploma, but who have passed the GED equivalence: They must score a 65 on the AFQT. Actually, only about one percent of the Air Force enlisted population is recruited from GED qualified candidates.
On the other hand, if the GED holder can earn 15 or more semester hours at the college level, he or she can join the ranks of high-school eligible candidates.
The AFSC is the Enlisted Airman’s Professional Portfolio
You can identify an enlisted rank in the Air Force by the number of blue-bordered white stripes on the sleeve. Those stripes identify the seniority, or pay grade. The Air Force goes a step further and uses a five-digit AFSC – Air Force Specialty Code – to identify the occupational specialties of its enlisted force.
The enlisted AFSC is similar to the Army and Marine Corps Military Occupational Specialty Codes and the Navy enlisted rating specialties. Its alphanumeric codes tell you everything you need to know about the occupational specialty it describes.
The first digit is the career grouping (operations, logistics, etc.), followed by the career field and its subdivision and finally the skill level earned through on-the-job training and attending technical schools.
For example, breaking down the AFSC 1N371 tells you the following:
- 1 (Group) = Operations
- N (Career Field) = Intelligence
- 3 (Career Field Subdivision) = Cryptographic Linguist
- 7 (Skill Level) = Craftsman (Usually shown as an “X” in generic AFSC listings)
- 1 (Specific AFSC) = German language crypto-linguist specialist.
You can see a complete listing of enlisted Air Force Specialty Codes to get an idea of all the areas of expertise in the Air Force at Military.com.
For those with the desire to enlist in the Air Force, or if you know someone who is considering doing so, having top grades and determining your academic strengths will guide you to a specialty and career you’ll not only enjoy but be proud of!
This is the Airman’s promise to country and colleagues.
I AM A WARRIOR.
I HAVE ANSWERED MY NATION’S CALL.
I AM AN AMERICAN AIRMAN.
MY MISSION IS TO FLY, FIGHT, AND WIN.
I AM FAITHFUL TO A PROUD HERITAGE,
A TRADITION OF HONOR,
AND A LEGACY OF VALOR.
I AM AN AMERICAN AIRMAN,
GUARDIAN OF FREEDOM AND JUSTICE,
MY NATION’S SWORD AND SHIELD,
ITS SENTRY AND AVENGER.
I DEFEND MY COUNTRY WITH MY LIFE.
I AM AN AMERICAN AIRMAN:
WINGMAN, LEADER, WARRIOR.
I WILL NEVER LEAVE AN AIRMAN BEHIND,
I WILL NEVER FALTER,
AND I WILL NOT FAIL.
The Air Force bases their core competencies and distinctive capabilities on a shared commitment to three values: “Integrity first, Service before self, and Excellence in all we do.”
Yes, I think enlisting in the Air Force is a good idea!
At *your* service,