Benefits of service: Training, experience
By Tech. Sgt. Wes Wright, 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 23, 2018
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- One of the challenges many people may face when determining a career path is employers requiring job experience and/or training as a condition of hire.
It can sometimes be difficult to obtain one while needing the other. The Air Force affords people the opportunity to receive both while getting paid.
Basic military training
“For enlisted personnel, training starts on day one at a place that has training in the name,” said Master Sgt. Janelle Amador, career assistance advisor with the 50th Force Support Squadron. “We start off by teaching you discipline and the Air Force way of life. From there, you have a solid foundation to begin the technical training for your job.”
During the nearly eight-week course, Airmen are taught a variety of military and life skills, from managing finances, to self-aid buddy care, to making ethical decisions.
“These classes are incredibly valuable, especially if you’re young and right out of high school,” Amador said. “Not everyone is ready to start life right out of school, but we give you the best training possible to help you do just that.”
Following successful completion of BMT, Airmen then ship off to their respective technical schools to learn their new job.
“Depending on what job you want, you can either pick it out ahead of joining so you have a guaranteed contract for that job, or, if you come in under the open general category, you select your job while in BMT,” Amador said.
Technical schools vary in length, some as short as a couple of months, others as long as a couple of years.
“Once you graduate technical training, you’re then fully qualified to do that job at the entry level in the Air Force,” Amador said. “Now, not only are you fulfilling the needs of the Air Force, you’re gaining something that is often hard to get and often required: experience.”
Upon arriving at their new duty station, Airmen are immediately enrolled in upgrade training to further hone their skills.
“Each Air Force Specialty Code has a set list of tasks each Airman must be certified with in order to progress in their training,” said Tech. Sgt. Melinda Woods, training manager with 50th Mission Support Group. “We use on the job training to ensure our Airmen can apply what they learned in tech school.”
As part of OJT, Airmen are also enrolled in career development courses.
“These are the blueprints for your job,” Woods said. “There can be anywhere from one to several volumes of what are basically schoolbooks for Airmen to complete. Each volume has a comprehensive test you must take before moving to the next. There’s also an end of course exam on all the volumes you must pass.”
In addition to job training, Airmen also receive leadership training, designed to help them become a rounded person.
“As you progress through upgrade training and prove you know how to do the job basics, we start developing you to be a leader through professional military education,” Amador said. “We want you to be good at your job and good at leading others.”
Airman Leadership School and the Noncommissioned Officer Academy are just a couple of the leadership courses Airmen will attend in their careers.
“This is a huge advantage over the civilian sector,” Amador said. “Where else can you be paid to become an expert in your job while also being paid to learn how to lead others doing the same job?”
Amador said the leadership component of Air Force training is a valuable commodity for businesses.
“What I see a lot is businesses will prefer to hire veterans with the same qualifications as civilians because they know the military members has been taught how to be a leader and likely knows how to overcome in the face of adversity,” Amador said.
Amador’s observations bode well for Woods, who will be retiring soon.
“After 20 years in the military, the thought of getting out is scary, but I know I couldn’t possibly be any better positioned for it because of all the job and leadership training I’ve gained,” Woods said. “I think it is absolutely critical to have the access to training the Air Force gives us and the experience that comes along as well.”
Through the Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-Line program, Airmen can earn industry recognized professional certifications and licenses to enhance their active duty work and to prepare them as they transition to the civilian job market after they leave the service.
“It is a fantastic program,” Amador said. “For example, in the medical career field you can become a certified Emergency Medical Technician.”
Amador said certifications can be a critical necessity for certain jobs.
“For some jobs, you can have all the degrees and experience you want, but if you don’t have that certain certificate, you’re not even going to get an interview,” Amador said.
According to Amador, people often face a catch-22 situation in the form of needing job experience to be hired.
“It’s that classic dilemma where you need experience, but you can’t get it because everyone requires you already have it,” Amador said. “We are so fortunate as Airmen because they will pay us to gain experience.”
Woods said she knows her experience in the training profession will likely give her an advantage in the civilian market upon retiring.
“There is a huge demand in companies for training program managers,” Woods said. “But guess what, most want experience and thanks to the Air Force, I have it. I’m happy I have been able to have a rewarding Air Force career and also be postured for success when I leave.”
Editor’s note: this is part two in a three-part series on the benefits of service not exclusive to Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.