The enlisted airmen in the Air Force are like the engine that drives the aircraft. Without them, there would be no pilots, navigators, or anyone else to fly planes.
As a result, the enlisted members of the Air Force are just as crucial as officers. This article will cover all you need to know about the enlisted ranks in the Air Force and how you can move up in your career and become a noncommissioned officer.
Understandably, many people think of enlisting in the military as a way to advance their careers without getting a college degree. That is not entirely untrue for some branches but not for others, such as the Air Force. The enlisted ranks in this branch of service require experience and education before becoming an NCO. But if you’re intrigued by what these roles involve and want to see whether or not it’s right for you, read on.
What Are the Roles in the Air Force Enlisted?
Enlisted members come in all shapes, sizes, and specialties. For example, some are transport specialists, others are trained as mechanics, and others are responsible for intelligence gathering and computer operations.
The requirements for each group will vary depending on what the position requires. Some groups may have a minimum requirement for education, years of service, or specific technical certifications.
The Air Force encompasses nine categories: General, Aircraft Maintenance, Cyber, Education, Medical, Military Skills, Remotely Piloted Aircraft, and Technical.
These categories are further broken down into enabler codes, which are three-digit numbers representing each job’s specific duties and responsibilities.
The Airman (non-commissioned officer) is the first non-entry-level rank in the Air Force. It is the equivalent of “Private” in the Army and Marines, “Seaman Apprentice” for the Navy, and “Airman Basic” for the Coast Guard.
NCOs are also the first defense against issues within their unit, such as drinking or drug use. Therefore, NCOs are expected to be responsible and reliable, to have a good work ethic, and be self-motivated. In addition, airmen are expected to maintain a professional appearance and behavior.
The title of Senior Airman refers to someone who has served four years as an Airman. An Airman can become a Senior Airman after a year of diligent work and the recommendation of their superiors. At this rank, service members are expected to be technically proficient and have a thorough knowledge of their trade.
They hold positions of responsibility and have increased levels of accountability compared to Airmen. They are expected to set an example for others and demonstrate Air Force core values in their actions. They are also responsible for mentoring and training other Airmen and may lead teams or workgroups.
The title of Staff Sergeant is someone who has served six years as Senior Airman. A Staff Sergeant is expected to be the technical expert of their squadron. They know the complexities of Air Force operations and are always on the path of learning, questions and researching.
They are the team members with their fingers on the company’s pulse and know what’s happening with upcoming projects and deadlines. They are the people who make it their responsibility to be sure their coworkers are trained and knowledgeable in their tasks so that they don’t have to answer questions. In addition, the Staff Sargeant sets an excellent example for others by ensuring their work area is organized and clean.
Finally, they are the people who are always willing to help and assist their coworkers in any way they can.
The title of Technical Sergeant is someone who has served ten years as a Staff Sergeant. A Technical Sergeant is expected to be the technical expert of their squadron. They are expected to know it inside and out and are knowledgeable about their trade and how it can be applied to others. They are often responsible for delegating tasks and ensuring deadlines are met. They are often the go-to person for advice, guidance, and mentoring. To be a Technical Sergeant, you must be detail-oriented and enjoy helping others.
The title of Master Sergeant is someone who has served 13 years as a Technical Sergeant. They are responsible for maintaining the technical competence of their unit and keeping the members safe. They often lead projects in their team and are expected to mentor other NCOs and enlisted members. They are usually the first level of technical support for their unit. They are expected to stay up to date on all the equipment in their team and be able to troubleshoot problems when they come up.
They are expected to set an example with their work ethic and be actively involved in their unit. They are also likely to maintain their technical competence and stay updated on new equipment as it comes into the unit. They are expected to know it inside and out and are knowledgeable about their trade and how it can be applied to others.
Senior Master Sergeant
The position is restricted to those who have served at least 17 years in the Air Force, attained the rank of Master Sergeant, and been recommended for promotion to Senior Master Sergeant.
To be promoted to Senior Master Sergeant, you must have at least 17 years of active service, have been recommended for promotion to SMSgt, have at least three years of active service left after being promoted to SMSgt, and have been recommended by your unit commander.
The rank of Senior Master Sergeant is the highest enlisted rank. You must have at least three years of active service left after being promoted to Senior Master Sergeant.
‘Senior Master Sergeants may be required to maintain a specific professional license or certification. They must thoroughly understand every aspect of their jobs and how they fit into the company’s larger goals. They are the ones who portray excellence in all aspects of their work, and they are also likely to go above and beyond their stated responsibilities.
Chief Master Sergeant
The title of Chief Master Sergeant denotes someone who has served 20 years as a Senior Master Sergeant.
They must be able to troubleshoot and fix any technical issues that arise within the squadron and identify the cause of any problems within the squadron. They’re also expected to be the managerial expert of their division and assist other NCOs with leadership skills and other managerial tasks, as well as help to develop and train other NCOs, especially newer ones.
Additionally, a Chief Master Sergeant must be able to assist the commander in any administrative duties that they may need help with, such as official reports, meetings, or correspondence with other units. They are expected to know Air Force functions inside and out. Chief Master Sergeants are the backbone of the Air Force and are in charge of ensuring there’s a seamless
The Air Force offers many jobs for enlisted members, and you can choose the one that interests you the most. Some of the most common assignments in the Air Force include engineering, maintenance, communications, contracting, and cybersecurity. You will receive on-the-job training and may be sent to different countries for exercises or missions.
Ready to join the Air Force? Did you serve in the Air Force? Share your experiences in the comments below! You can also check out the complete structure here.