How to Enlist in the United States Air Force

Three Parts:Contacting a RecruiterMaking the CutUnderstanding Air Force Decorum

With budget cuts, jobs in the U.S Air Force are being cut and are much harder to come by. If you aspire to join the Air Force, you need to prepare ahead of time in order to put your best foot forward. However, even then, you might not get the job you want. You should be flexible and prepared to start out small.[1]

Part 1
Contacting a Recruiter

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    Consider your options carefully. Not everyone is cut out for the responsibilities of active serve. However, if you can join, the Air Force offers a variety of benefits, including technical training. Consider the various careers available and decide which might be appropriate for you.
    • The Air Force offers its members vacation time, free healthcare, consistent wages, on the job training, and tuition support. There is even an Air Force Academy that the enlisted can attend for college credit. [2]
    • Not everyone in the Air Force is a pilot. There are jobs available in air traffic control, nursing, repair, computer science, electronics, law, and transportation. Visit the Air Force careers website to see what careers might be available to you.
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    Familiarize yourself with basic requirements. To even be considered for a job with the Air Force you must be between 17 and 39 years of age. You must also be either a U.S. citizen or legal, permanent resident. Furthermore, you must either have a high school diploma or a GED with at least 15 college credits.[3]
    • Age requirements differ depending upon your desired field. Most applicants must begin Basic Military Training by the age of 27. Officers must be commissioned by the age of 34. Those in medicine must begin by 39. Those who have served in the past can often return at a later age than a new recruit would be able to join.[4]
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    Collect all necessary paperwork. A birth certificate, driver’s license, social security card, high school transcripts and, if you have it, college transcripts, will be necessary when you apply. These will need to be original certified documents, not copies. Try to have these ready before you meet with a recruiter.[5]
    • Sometimes additional documents will be required. If you have a passport or marriage license, you should bring them. You might need legal records or a credit report. Bring your resume, with records, locations, and contact information for all of the places you have worked for the past 5-10 years. You should have at your disposal address you have lived at for the past 7-10 years, dates and locations of international trips, contact information for people you have known for at least ten years, and medical records for any serious conditions you have suffered from.[6]
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    Contact an Air Force Recruiter. He will be your source of information and guidance through the process. Because of budget cutbacks, jobs are scarce and you will want to impress the recruiter by having all of your documents available. Know what jobs you are interested in and ask what current requirements for those positions are.[7]
    • You can find a local recruiter on The Air Force’s Recruiter Locator. Don’t drop by; call ahead of time and ask for an appointment. When you meet the recruiter, ask to schedule a follow-up meeting.[8]

Part 2
Making the Cut

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    Begin training. Once the recruiter has explained the requirements for the positions you are interested in, begin preparing to meet those requirements. Find the “The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook” and begin the regimen that it lays out to get in adequate physical shape. Research The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and begin studying for the test.
    • Unfortunately, there are some things that you cannot prepare for. Prior medical conditions or a criminal background might reduce your chances of being recruited. However, you are more likely to succeed if you are honest and disclose this information to the recruiter.[9]
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    Visit the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). Your recruiter will schedule a trip to the MEPS to complete your enlistment. At the MEPS you will undergo a full battery of tests and background checks. Afterward you will be counseled about what careers are appropriate for you and, if you agree on a career path, make the Oath of Enlistment.
    • The MEPS will often be far away. The Air Force, however, will pay for transportation, meals, and a hotel.[10]
    • You will typically do a lot of waiting at MEPS. Bring a book to keep yourself entertained.
    • You should look presentable when you arrive at MEPS. Your clothes should also, however, be comfortable and warm. Do not wear a hat or anything with offensive statements.[11]
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    Take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). This test will determine what careers you have the mental qualifications for. It can be administered both on a computer or as a paper test. You should bring identification with you and study ahead of time. The test will often take multiple days.
    • For the paper test, you will have 11 minutes for General Science, 36 for Arithmetic Reasoning, 11 for Word Knowledge, 13 for Paragraph Comprehension, 24 for Mathematics Knowledge, 9 for Electronics Information, 11 for Auto and Shop Information, 19 for Mechanical Comprehension, and 15 for Assembling Objects. For the computerized test, the sections are the same, but time limits might vary slightly.[12]
    • Tell your recruiter if you took ASVAB in high school. If you did, you might not be required to take it again at MEPS.[13]
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    Take the physical. At the MEPS you will also be given a physical. This will determine if you have any disqualifying medical conditions. More generally, it will also determine what jobs you are in good enough physical condition for. You can begin a regimen of physical exercise to prepare for the physical, but the most important factor in the physical is whether you show signs of injury.[14]
    • The physical does not include any exercise, but it does test balance and flexibility. If you are overweight, your percent body fat will be measured.
    • The physical will measure your height, weight, hearing, and vision. Urine, blood tests, and drug tests will also be administered.
    • If you wear glasses or contacts, bring them with you to MEPS.
    • You should bring in medical records for any conditions that you might have. Additional, specialized tests might be administered if you have any medical conditions.[15]
    • Although you should try to come into your physical in decent shape, it is particularly imperative that you not be injured. Before arriving you should work out, but refrain from anything that might result in injury.
    • For both the physical and the ASVAB, requirements vary considerably depending upon the desired position and the Air Force’s need for people. Your recruiter is the best person to explain your requirements.
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    Talk to a counselor about your options. After the tests are administered, a counselor will present you with a list of jobs that you are qualified for. Remember, even if you were found to be qualified for the job you wanted, you might find that the Air Force does not need anyone in that position. The counselor should be willing to explain why you are being offered certain jobs and what each of them entails.[16]
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    Enlist in the United States Air Force. If you and your counselor agree on a job, you will raise your right hand and repeat the Oath of Enlistment. An officer will be present to administer the oath. You will then take the final step and sign your contract. Take pride in your accomplishment.
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    Stay in shape. Before you ship off make sure to play it safe. While you are in what is known as Delayed Entry Program (DEP), avoid legal trouble or injuries that could compromise your enlistment.[17] Exercise regularly to prepare for basic training.[18]

Part 3
Understanding Air Force Decorum

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    Address your military training instructor properly. You won't have a very good time in BMT if you upset your superiors. One of the many things you should have memorized before arriving the reporting statement that you will say to your military training instructor every time that he addresses you.
    • Your reporting statement is "Sir/Ma'am, trainee (your last name) reports as ordered.
    • You only need to say "Sir" or "Ma'am" once in your statement. Don't make the mistake of throwing an extra one in at the end, like "Ma'am, trainee Porter reports as ordered, Ma'am"[19]
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    Memorize the Airman's Creed and the Air Force Song. The best way to show your commitment to the Air Force is to know the culture like the back of your hand. The Air Force Song and the Airman's Creed will be recited throughout your time at BMT. Memorize these early on unless you want to be the one in the crowd who doesn't know what is going on.[20]
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    Know who you are talking to. You should always know your place in the Air Force. Being flippant with a general is a mistake you won't live down anytime soon. Every rank has its own special insignia. Learn what rank each insignia means and know who is above you in rank.[21]
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    Know the core values. Before you become an airman, you need to know what it means to be an airman. The Air Force's core values embody what that means. Have these memorized:
    • "Integrity first/Service before self/Excellence in all we do."[22]


  • Be flexible in your job choices. You may not be able to get your top pick.

Things You'll Need

  • Birth certificate
  • Social security number
  • High School Diploma
  • Driver's License or State issued ID

Sources and Citations

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Article Info

Categories: Careers in the Military