Computer Systems Programming personnel supervise and perform as computer analyst, coder, tester and manager in the design, development, maintenance, testing, configuration management, and documentation of application software systems, client-server, and web-enabled software and relational database systems critical to warfighting capabilities.
Specific duties of the Computer Systems Programmer in the Air Force include the following:
- Develops standardized tools and interfaces in accordance with Air Force Network Operations (AFNETOPS) guidance to transform raw data into actionable C2 information.
- Develops and implements policy to enable effective information discovery, indexing, storage, life-cycle management, retrieval, and sharing in a collaborative enterprise information environment.
- Harnesses capabilities of systems designed to collect, store, retrieve, process and display data to ensure information dominance.
- Ensures compliance with DoD directives and standards for security and interoperability.
- Protects operating systems, application software, files, and databases from unauthorized access to sensitive information, or misuse of communications-computer resources.
- Determines analyzes and develops requirements for software systems through interpreting standards, specifications, and user needs as a system analyst.
- Determines, designs, and develops data requirements, database structure, process flow, systematic procedures, algorithms, and file structures to implement and maintain software systems using software engineering techniques.
- Works with systems using software methodologies such as distributed processing, systems networking, advanced information storage and retrieval, and management techniques.
- Determines and recommends the most reasonable approach in designing new systems or modifying existing systems. Develops and maintains system specifications.
- Conducts and participates in system reviews and technical interchanges.
- Selects appropriate software development tools.
- Explores commercial off-the-shelf options to satisfy user requirements.
- Translates system specifications and requirements into program code and database structures implements designed functionality as software coders.
- Analyzes output products and debugs source code to isolate and correct errors in program logic, syntax, and data entry, and to ensure accuracy and efficiency.
- Conducts code reviews and unit-level testing.
- Develops and maintains unit-level test plans. Arranges test data and routines.
- Modifies existing programs to correct program errors or modifies existing functionality or interface.
Initial Skills Training (Tech School): AF Technical School graduation results in the award of a 3-skill level (apprentice). Following Air Force Basic Training, airmen in this AFSC attend the following course(s):
- E3AQR3D034 00AA, Computer Systems Programming Apprentice at Keesler AFB, MS - 55 class days.
- Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) - Computer Science Technology courses will earn you 19 college credits for completing tech school at the Community College of the Air Force
Certification Training: After tech school, individuals report to their permanent duty assignment, where they are entered into 5-level (technician) upgrade training. This training is a combination of on-the-job task certification, and enrollment in a correspondence course called a Career Development Course (CDC). Once the airman's trainer(s) have certified that they are qualified to perform all tasks related to that assignment, and once they complete the CDC, including the final closed-book written test, they are upgraded to the 5-skill level, and are considered to be "certified" to perform their job with minimal supervision.
Advanced Training: Upon achieving the rank of Staff Sergeant, airmen are entered into 7-level (craftsman) training. A craftsman can expect to fill various supervisory and management positions such as shift leader, element NCOIC (Noncommissioned Officer in Charge), flight superintendent, and various staff positions. Upon promotion to the rank of Senior Master Sergeant, personnel convert to AFSC 3D090, Cyber Operations Superintendent. 3D090 personnel provide direct supervision and management to personnel in AFSCs 3D0X1, 3D0X2, 3D0X3, and 3D0X5. A 9-level can expect to fill positions such as flight chief, superintendent, and various staff NCOIC jobs. It is through these advanced trainings that a programmer earns the title of project manager and becomes highly marketable outside the military.
Assignment Locations: Virtually any Air Force Base. Mainly these however:
- Ft George Meade
- Gunter Annex
Average Promotion Times (Time in Service)
Airman (E-2): 6 months
Airman First Class (E-3): 16 months
Senior Airman (E-4): 3 years
Staff Sergeant (E-5): 5 years
Technical Sergeant (E-6): 9 years
Master Sergeant (E-7): 17 years
Senior Master Sergeant (E-8): 19.7 years
Chief Master Sergeant (E-9): 22.3 years
Required ASVAB Composite Score: G-64
Security Clearance Requirement: Secret / Top Secret
- Must be a US Citizen
- A minimum score of 71 on the Electronic Data Processing Test.
- Completion of high school is mandatory. Courses in algebra, geometry, and computer science and programming are desirable.
In the Air Force, programmers are expected to fill two primary roles - Computer Programming and Project Management. The experience gained in the military will be highly sought after by civilian computer programming / engineering type firms. The Air Force jobs of programming and project management are both particularly high-paying jobs in the civilian world. In fact, you will make more money in the civilian world than in the military if you are good at your job. It's not uncommon to start out at $100k/year in both professions, but can even make up to $200,000 or more.