Air Force Officer Careers
The United States Air Force Academy trains cadets to take on a variety of challenging careers as officers in the Air Force. No matter your chosen path within the Air Force, you will face challenges on a daily basis, including:
- Technological advances
- Increased demands for innovative resource management
- The continuing pledge to guard and defend our national goals
An Academy education will prepare you to meet these challenges no matter what career path you take in the Air Force. As your graduation date draws near, qualified experts will be available to explain each available specialty in detail to help match your talents and desires with Air Force needs.
More than half of Academy graduates choose flight training. These graduates serve in approximately 15 flying-related careers as pilots, combat systems officers or air battle managers.
Graduates who choose non-flying careers may enter a variety of fields. The percentage of graduates choosing these career paths are as follows:
- Mission Support (Personnel, Police, Public Affairs, Health): 17%
- Sortie Generation/Logistics (Missile Maintenance, Intelligence): 11%
- Operations (Air Traffic Controller, Space Operations): 36%
- Scientific/Technical (Civil Engineering, Communications, Acquisition): 36%
The list of career options goes on and on, below is just a small listing of Air Force careers available. For more complete details, visit airforce.com/careers. Cadets choose paths based on their interests and talents. Examples include careers in engineering, health and medicine, logistics and transportation, sciences, weaponry or space.
There are literally thousands of Air Force buildings, structures and utilities around the world, and it’s the job of Air Force Civil Engineers to ensure they’re not only maintained but combat ready. At a moment’s notice, a Civil Engineer can be flown anywhere in the world to assess damage, perform emergency repairs, advise commanders on emergency response and train personnel in a wide range of disaster preparedness. Whether you specialize in architectural, electrical, mechanical or environmental engineering, your job will always be to help the mission succeed.
Every mission we set out on requires a flawless infrastructure to support it. With stakes this high, technology simply cannot fail. That’s why our Developmental Engineers are some of the best in the world, with specialties ranging from aeronautical and astronautical to electrical and mechanical engineering. They develop engineering processes and subprocesses, formulate engineering policy and procedures and direct technical operations. And since the Air Force is constantly identifying and incorporating new technologies, as well as maintaining existing systems, Development Engineers may be called to work on projects anywhere in the world.
Interest: Health & Medicine
Combat Rescue Officer
Some of the most courageous Airmen in the Air Force are those dedicated to the rescue and recovery of injured servicemen from the front lines. Alone and immobile, the injured are often extremely vulnerable and thus need a swift, effective rescue evacuation. Combat Rescue Officers organize and strategize recovery missions, train and equip rescue personnel and manage and develop survival skills programs. They also deploy into direct combat as a team member, team leader or mission commander or provide expert insights to plan and control special reconnaissance, terminal control and recovery operations.
Our Airmen’s ability to perform at their highest ability strongly relies on proper nourishment, rest and exercise. These cornerstones of health and well-being have a direct and immediate effect on the strength of the entire Air Force — including those in the midst of battle. Services Officers help maximize this strength by developing and implementing plans and policies for food service, lodging, fitness, mortuary, recreation, child development and leisure. They supervise programs, facilities and services during both peacetime and wartime all over the world. They also set standards for performance evaluation while managing budgets, personnel training, location and maintenance.
Interest: Logistics & Transportation
Personnel and Manpower Officer
The greatest assets in the Air Force are its personnel. Making the most of each Airman’s skills and experience is what keeps us as strong and effective as possible. This is the focus of Personnel and Manpower Officers. Continually assessing staffing needs, they handle everything from procurement and assignments to professional development, promotions and separations. Personnel Officers develop plans and policies for personnel, education, training and functional responsibilities. They also develop social action programs that help commanders prevent substance abuse, ensure equal opportunity in mission readiness and improve work methods and procedures.
Public Affairs Officer
Public support of the Air Force and its objectives helps fortify our operations on every level — from recruitment to budgets to veteran benefits. Yet with so much of our information classified for the safety and success of our missions, it can be a challenge for the public to understand our goals. Public Affairs Officers use their diplomatic expertise to educate the public while safeguarding the details of our endeavors from foreign threats. This requires developing a strong working relationship with media representatives across all channels as well as serving as a liaison with civilian organizations and other groups. Public Affairs Officers also develop plans and operational procedures for communication about aircraft and missile accidents, natural disasters, environmental incidents and other newsworthy events concerning Air Force activities.
Cyberspace Operations Officer
With today’s technology, information and communications can be optimized like never before, and timely information alone can make or break a mission’s success. Cyberspace Operation Officers possess a wide range of expertise from computerized, satellite and airborne communications to postal operations, tracking systems and weather equipment. They also plan, develop and maintain architectures and standards across air, space and cyberspace. Also responsible for supporting deployed communications operations, they can be sent anywhere in the world at any time to serve Air Force, joint and allied missions.
Some of our biggest victories are the ones we win far from the battlefield. The breakthrough discoveries produced in the lab make our missions faster, safer and more effective. Air Force physicists use their knowledge in areas such as lasers, nuclear engineering and optics. Air Force chemists apply their expertise to fuels, material, biotechnology, bio-optics, hyperspectral research and more. Treaty monitoring, program management and teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy are also possibilities. A variety of advanced degrees in both physics and chemistry are offered at the Air Force Institute of Technology, and those who choose to stay within the science field for their entire career are strongly encouraged to pursue them.
Weather can be our greatest ally or strongest adversary. That’s why accurate weather forecasting plays such an integral part in the success and safety of our missions. Air Force Weather Officers perform, manage and direct weather operations that have a direct effect on the activities of U.S. military forces. These duties primarily involve integrating current and forecasted atmospheric and space weather conditions into operations and planning. Weather Officers also develop, direct and coordinate meteorological weather studies and research.
Air Liaison Officer
Tactical air support can mean the difference between a victory and a loss when ground forces are engaged in battle. Providing and guiding this air support is the Air Liaison Officer (ALO) who leads Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) and Air Support Operations Center (ASOC) operations. Trained in all types of warfare, the ALO deploys to battlefield forward areas and serves as the primary adviser and advocate to the ground force commander. With expertise in TACP weapons, field equipment and signaling devices, the ALO enables the Combat Air Forces to integrate their advanced technologies and weapons systems with the efforts of the troops on the ground.
Security Forces Officer
The ultimate objective of every Air Force operation is security — for our Airmen, our bases and our country. Security Forces Officers help achieve this through their broad expertise encompassing weapons systems, antiterrorism, law enforcement, air base defense, industrial security and combat arms. Directing air base defense functions, they control and secure the terrain inside and adjacent to military installations as well as the personnel, equipment and resources within. Responsibilities include directing team patrols, tactical drills, battle procedures and antiterrorism duties, as well as enforcing standards of conduct, adherence to laws and planning future security measures. Security Force Officers are needed around the world and may be called upon to travel internationally to develop, implement and supervise a defense program.
Space and Missile Operations Officer
The possibilities of enhancing our military effectiveness through the use of space are virtually endless. From missiles that safely eliminate distant targets to satellites that enhance our communication and tracking, Space and Missile Operations Officers direct the entire system. They oversee surveillance, missile launch, space lift, ballistic space warning and satellite command and control. They also formulate policies, perform inspections, establish organizational structure and determine the personnel required to support mission areas. By assessing the effectiveness of all space and missile operations and incorporating new technology as it becomes available, they develop future plans for system, facilities and personnel.
The space community relies not only on astronautical engineers but mechanical, electrical, environmental, civil, and systems engineers to produce cutting edge systems. The astronautical engineer is uniquely prepared for Air Force duty with space systems as they are specialists in research, design, development, test, and analysis of space technology and aerospace avionics. Space engineers are needed throughout the space community and serve around the United States.
Understanding space systems’ vulnerabilities to attack is the job of the Space Aggressor. Highly skilled warriors, they design and participate in war games to better understand our space system’s strengths and weaknesses. From their work we develop next generation systems as well as cutting edge tactics and technology to protect U.S. space assets and defeat enemy space systems.
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