To become a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force, one must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree. In some fields, such as medical and civil engineering, specialized degrees are required.
One can obtain a commission in the United States Air Force by being selected for the Air Force Reserve Officers Training Program (ROTC), by attending the Air Force Academy, or by graduating from Officer Training School (OTS).
Below is a list of some of the job descriptions for commissioned officers in various career fields within the Air Force, along with some basic information about what you'll need to qualify.
Air Force Pilots
There are several different kinds of pilots. To qualify for jobs in this field, airmen need knowledge of flight theory, air navigation, meteorology, flying directives, aircraft operating procedures, and mission tactics. They need to complete Air Force specialized undergraduate pilot training and undergo a Single Scope Background Investigation. There will be additional training and qualifying factors depending on which specialty the pilot chooses.
In addition, they’ll need to complete Officer Training school, the Air Force Academy, or Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. Pilots need to be between 18 and 28 years old.
Air Force Navigator Field
Air Force navigators are trained on specific equipment and on specific aircraft. For instance, there are airlift navigators, bomber navigators, fighter plane navigators, and so on. Some navigators are trained in special subcategories, such as reconnaissance or surveillance.
An Air Liason Officer needs an aeronautical rating of Pilot, Navigator/Combat Systems Operator, or Air Battle Manager, and must undergo a Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI). They'll complete officer training school at the Air Force Academy or the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps.
They'll spend nine and a half weeks in training at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. Air Liaison Officers must be between 18 and 34 years old.
Space, Missile, and Command and Control
Space operations manage space flight planning, training, and mission control. They may also be astronauts or crew members for space flights. Officers are divided into four categories depending on their level of experience: staff, qualified, intermediate, and entry.
Space operations officers have a wide variety of duties that include planning and directing space operations programs, developing training for astronauts, planning space stations, and directing launch and recovery activities.
In addition to the usual Air Force Academy officer training school, Space Operations Officers need to complete the Undergraduate Space Training program and hold a bachelor's or master's degree in a science, technology engineering, or math discipline. They'll spend nine and a half weeks training at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.
Air Force Intelligence Officers
Special Tactics Officers, who are part of the Intelligence Field, are highly trained in managing special tactics forces, which include everything from combat search and rescue, to assault zone assessment to weather operations.
They need a bachelor's degree, with courses in administration and management and a specialization in a technical discipline. They have to maintain combat-ready status, undergo a Single Scope Background Investigation, and complete officer training school. Like other Air Force officers, Special Tactics Officers spend nine and a half weeks at Maxwell Air Force Base.
Logistics Readiness Officers ensure that personnel and equipment are prepared and ready to go wherever needed.
These officers need a bachelor's degree with a focus in either economics, management, logistics, business administration, computer science, finance, accounting, chemical engineering, or industrial management (there is a wide variety of logistical challenges for the Air Force).
After completing officer training school at the Air Force Academy, Logistics Readiness Officers who are between 18 and 34 will spend nine and a half weeks in training at Maxwell Air Force Base.
Arts and Humanities Officers
Public Affairs Officers are one part of this field that includes a variety of different jobs. To be a Public Affairs Officer in the Air Force, you'll need good diplomatic and communications skills to serve as a media liaison and a point-of-contact with the general public.
A bachelor's degree in communications, journalism, public relations, or a similar field is required, as is a knowledge of the principles and practices of communications. They'll undergo background and credit checks, and need to have a record clear of substance abuse or unresolved mental health problems.
Also in this field are Band Officers, who oversee enlisted Air Force Band members. A bachelor's degree with a focus on instrumental performance or music education is needed, and before becoming a Band Officer, 12 months of experience in the Air Force Band is required. As with any musical career, Band Officers will have to pass a live audition.
Public Affairs Officers and Band Officers complete officer training at the Air Force Academy and nine and a half weeks at Maxwell Air Force base. They need to be between 18 and 34 years old.
Health and Medicine Officers in the Air Force
Whether you want to be a surgeon, a nurse, a physician, a dentist, or specialize in one of these areas, the Air Force has a need for them, with many opportunities available to pursue a medical career. The required training will vary depending on the specific job, but an officer in a medical or health field should expect similar training as they would in a civilian job.
For instance, to be a Certified Nurse Midwife in the Air Force, a master’s degree in nurse-midwifery or a master’s degree in nursing and a postgraduate certificate in nurse-midwifery is required. Candidates should be certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board, and have at least 12 months' experience as a registered nurse. That's all in addition to completing commissioned officer training.
Similarly, a dentist in the Air Force would need a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) degree and would need to complete a residency pertaining to their specialty.
Not all medical service jobs require a college degree though. A high school diploma or GED can put applicants in the initial running for enlistment as Aerospace Medical Service Airmen.
Law and Enforcement Officers in the Air Force
To be a military law officer, you must have special legal training and expertise in criminal procedures, counterintelligence, and investigative policy. These are not entry-level positions; an Investigations Officer needs to have at least six years of commissioned service, and a Judge Advocate Officer needs a law degree such as a Juris Doctor (JD) or Bachelor of Laws.
Future Technologies Field
These are the cool jobs of the future, all of which have a heavy focus on technology. One officer track in this field is the Physicist and Nuclear Engineer, who are advanced scientists managing programs and projects of technical operations and intelligence.
As one might expect from the job description, a bachelor's or master's degree is required in a field such as engineering physics, nuclear engineering, astronomy, and astrophysics or physics, in addition to completing officer training school at the Air Force Academy.
The Air Force updates the jobs and requirements for its professional careers all the time. For the most up-to-date information, visit their careers website to find out if they have something that will match your interests.