Air Force Job: AFSC 1T2X1 Pararescue

One of the most important jobs in the Air Force requires substantial training

A U.S. Air Force pararescueman jumping out of an HC-130P Hercules aircraft.
••• A U.S. Air Force pararescueman jumps out of an HC-130P Hercules aircraft during a training exercise in Djibouti. Stocktrek Images / Getty Images

Pararescue specialist is one of the most dangerous and most important jobs in the Air Force. Not only do these airmen jump out of aircraft, once they land they provide medical treatment and rescue for their fellow troops.

This is a challenging job, both mentally and physically, and has one of the most extensive technical school training programs, which clocks in at more than a year long. The Air Force categorizes this job as Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) 1T2X1.

Official Duties of Air Force Pararescue Specialists

These airmen lead pararescue activities, which can take place in the mountain, desert, arctic, urban, jungle and water regions, day or night, in hostile, friendly or sensitive areas of the world. Once they're on the ground, they provide emergency trauma and field medical care and help move injured personnel if airborne recovery isn't possible. 

When they parachute into a hostile area, these airmen conduct surface-to-air and surface electronic communications and use firearms and munitions to help secure operations. Their on-the-scene duties may include helping with resupply efforts, often over adverse terrain, as well as search and rescue operations. 

They conduct triage in all variety of conditions and weather and assist with evasive maneuvers when needed. They may also be called upon to take photographs for documentation purposes and to assist NASA and aerospace personnel in some situations. 

Qualifying for Air Force Pararescue

To be considered for this job, you'll need a high school diploma or its equivalent. Ideally, you will have already completed a certified emergency medical technician or paramedic course as well, because you'll need to be certified as an EMT in order to perform your duties as a pararescueman. 

A score of at least 44 on the general (G) Air Force Aptitude Qualification Area of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is required. 

You'll also need to take the Tailored Adaptive Personality Assessment System (TAPAS) test, which determines whether soldiers and airmen have the cognitive capabilities for certain military jobs. Your recruiter will have more information about the specifics, but you'll be expected to score at least a 60 on the parajumper selection model segment of the TAPAS. 

Recruits interested in pararescue need to complete specially tailored physical ability and stamina tests and be qualified for aircrew, parachute, and marine-diving duties. This will include certification as a military SCUBA diver and freefall parachutist.

In addition, you must be a U.S citizen and between the ages of 17 and 39. You'll have to be able to qualify for a secret security clearance from the Department of Defense. This will involve a background check of your character and finances, and a history of drug or alcohol abuse could disqualify you. 

Training as an Air Force Pararescueman

As you might imagine, the training for this Air Force job is thorough and extensive. After completing basic training and Airmen's Week, you'll spend 501 days in technical school at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

Your training will prepare you for parachuting and perform life-saving rescues under a variety of conditions, including combat. The courses you'll take include; 

  • Pararescue indoctrination
  • Airborne (Parachutist)
  • Special Forces combat diver qualification
  • Combat survival training
  • U.S. Navy underwater egress training
  • Military freefall parachutist
  • Special Operations combat medic course
  • Pararescue and recovery apprentice