Many people consider the Air Force to be the most desirable branch of the military. It has the nicest dormitories, the most generous family housing program and the best shopping and recreation opportunities. In addition, all of the Air Force’s more than 150 jobs provide opportunities for advancement.
On the other hand, the Air Force is also the most difficult branch of the service to join. It receives thousands more applicants than it can enlist, so it demands higher ASVAB scores and has more stringent physical requirements than other branches of the military.
FINDING AN AIR FORCE RECRUITER
If you are interested in joining this popular military division, your first step is to find an Air Force recruiter. There are several ways to do this:
- Visit the Air Force website: The Air Force website, which contains a recruiter locator under the “contact us” section that you can use to find a recruiter in your area. The website also has a live chat function that enables you to speak directly with an Air Force adviser and a “contact us” form that you can fill out if you would like a recruiter to contact you.
- Make a call: The Air Force also has a toll-free recruiting number for people who are interested in joining. The number is 1-800-423-8723, and it will connect you with an automated system that will help you find an Air Force recruiting office in your area.
- Take the ASVAB: The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, otherwise known as the ASVAB, is the military’s entrance test. It is designed to determine whether you are mentally qualified to join the military and which jobs you have the capacity for. If you score high on this test, you will likely be contacted by recruiters from all branches of the military, including the Air Force.
MEETING WITH THE RECRUITER
Once you have found a recruiter, he will schedule an interview with you. During this meeting, he will ask you questions about a wide variety of things, include your age, citizenship status, health condition, criminal history and past and present drug use. It is important that you are completely honest in your answers; lying to a military recruiter is a felony and could have serious legal consequences.
The recruiter may also ask you whether you are interested in enlisting under the Guaranteed Job program or the Guaranteed Aptitude Area program. Guaranteed Job applicants are guaranteed a specific Air Force job, or AFSC, but there are fewer jobs available under this program. The Guaranteed Aptitude program has many more slots available, but applicants are only guaranteed a certain type of job rather than a particular AFSC. These applicants may not know what job they are assigned to until the 7th or 8th week of basic training.
THE ASVAB TEST
Every recruit is required to take the ASVAB before he or she is allowed to enlist in the Air Force. The examination is usually given in high school or at the Military Entrance Processing Station, but applicants can also schedule with the Mobile Examination Team to take the ASVAB in their local community. The minimum qualifying scores for the Air Force are 36 for high school seniors and graduates, but people with a score of 50 or more have a much better chance of acceptance. GED holders are required to obtain a score of at least 65. In addition, different AFSCs have their own minimum requirements for specific sections of the test.
THE MILITARY ENTRANCE PROCESSING STATION
If you pass your pre-screening interview and receive a satisfactory score on the ASVAB, the final step in the recruitment process will be for you to take a trip to the Military Entrance Processing Station, otherwise known as MEPS. Several things will happen there, including a physical exam, a background check and possibly even a credit check. If you qualify to join the Air Force, you will meet with a career counselor. At this point, you will make the final decision about whether to enlist in the Air Force and which program to enlist under. If there are no available jobs for which you qualify, you will be enlisted under the Delayed Enlistment Program until a slot opens up for you. Otherwise, you will be sent to a recruit training center.
The US air force is one of the most prestigious military institutions on earth. The recruitment function has been honed to a science, and you should expect it to be challenging. Air force recruiters themselves have a different sort of task – with a healthy supply of talent, their role is often less to push you into the Air Force and more to ensure that you are a good fit in the specific area that you may be assigned to.
The proper way to work with a recruiter is to be honest and open about both your preferences and trepidations. At its best, the recruitment function serves to not only to find and engage new recruits, but to add ordered discipline to the selection and placement function. Your honest and open communication may be the key to getting you placed in exactly the right field or technical area for you.
Disclaimer: Joining the military is a very serious life decision. This article is not intended as professional advice. Be sure to research all options available to you and seek independent advice and counsel.