Hey, Airman, want to know a secret? Education is key!

Hey, Airman, want to know a secret? Education is key!

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Do you want to know a secret about quarterly and annual awards? Do you want to know a secret about promotions in today’s Air Force? Do you want to know a secret about how to get a good paying job after the military? It’s actually something very simple to do, it’s not very expensive, and usually doesn’t take too much time. The secret is: Get your Community College of the Air Force degree and then complete your college degree and/or technical certifications/licensure.

Let’s start with awards. Almost every quarterly and annual award has a section titled “Significant Self-Improvement.” When your supervision is screening people for award nominations, they will ask if you’re taking classes. These classes may be college classes, technical courses, leadership seminars, etc. 

If you’re not taking classes, demonstrating your dedication to self-improvement, then most of the time you’re not even considered for submission. Higher education classes/course will at least place you onto the list of potential nominees. 

How about promotions? In case you haven’t heard, the Air Force is changing how they are going to promote enlisted personnel. Now Airmen are going to be racked and stacked against their peers. Do you remember last year’s force management boards? Airmen in affected Air Force Specialty Codes had to be racked and stacked against their peers, and the lower the ranking, the more likely the individual was to become Mr. or Mrs. civilian. 

One of the factors that separated one Airman from another in ranking was education level; CCAF, degrees, certifications, licensure, etc. While there is no written guidance on how to rack and stack Airmen, common practices have shown that one of the factors that will set you apart from your peers is education or at least pursuit of a higher-level education. Pursuit of a degree/certification/licensure cannot interfere with job performance; an Airman cannot be the perpetual student, forsaking subordinates/peers, as well as not increasing their leadership and job knowledge. 

And what about life after the Air Force? Most military retirees and those that separate get a job following their service. Whether that job is a civilian working on base, a contractor, or a whole new line of work that is not associated with the military, options are limited by education level, as evidenced in job advertisements. 

Not only are job options limited, but the consensus amongst websites that show average job salaries is that an individual with a college degree or technical certification/licensure makes significantly more money than an individual with a high school education.

But you are in luck. The Air Force makes it simple for you to get a higher-level education. With the first step in enlisted professional military education, Airman Leadership School, most Airmen have nearly completed a two-year degree. Additionally, all enlisted personnel can be given $4,500 a year to attend classes. 

Also, there is Air Force COOL that can help guide you to various civilian credentialing opportunities for more technical degrees, certifications, and/or licensure, as well as post-military job opportunities that relate to your AFSC.

Let me simplify this even further. Go down to the 75th Air Base Wing education office and talk to one of the counselors. Tell them you want to work on your education and they will hook you up. 

Bottom line: If you want to make it in the Air Force, if you want a good-paying salary, then improve your education level.

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