The United States Air Force needs to increase its current force of 312 operational squadrons to 386 by the year 2030. Each Air Force squadron consists of two or more flights. An Air Force "flight" might contain as few as one single airman or as many as three of them. Consequently, the Air Force needs as many as 222 airmen just to recruit enough pilots to fly the planes needed in a multiple-front, peer or near-peer conflict without reducing its ability to fight skirmishes against terrorist threats. This expansion could require as many as 40,000 support personnel to return the force to its 1987 operational levels. Consequently, the prospects for a career with the Air Force between now and 2030 appear promising.
Air Force Jobs in Demand 2018
Air Force jobs in demand in 2018 include a critical need for pilot-training staff. The Air Force currently offers significant recruitment and retention bonuses for both pilots and pilot trainers. How does a $420,000 bonus for staying the course for an additional 12 years grab you? That eye-popping bonus is already on the table for current Air Force fighter pilots who agree to maintain their enlistment until 2030. Topping that, as of May 31, 2018, some bomber squadrons, fixed-wing combat search-and-rescue pilots, special operations, mobility and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance personnel will see similar offers to remain in the Air Force.
Additional Air Force Critically Manned Career Fields
Among the many Air Force critically manned career fields, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson stated the need to assemble, train and deploy five new bomber squadrons between 2018 and 2030. Emerging threats around the globe prompted Wilson to request seven additional space squadrons as well. Despite the ridicule President Trump's recent "Space Force" comments engendered, the potential loss of millions of dollars worth of surveillance data and satellite equipment creates a serious threat to national security. Secretary Wilson emphasized the important role these space squadrons must play in our global defense strategy.
There is no Air Force without fuel. As a result, Wilson called for an increase of 14 more tanker squadrons to support the air-to-air refueling needs of both the current and all additional aircraft. In addition to the bomber, space and tanker squadrons, Wilson stated a need for seven more special operations squadrons and nine more combat search and rescue squadrons. To tie the increased units together, the Air Force needs 22 additional squadrons dedicated to command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The Air Force must also recruit seven more fighter squadrons, two remotely piloted aircraft squadrons, and one more airlift squadron to meet current national and global defense needs. Contrarily, missile and cyber squadron numbers will remain at their current levels, but they will receive updated equipment and increased training to make prime use of the latest, bleeding-edge technology available. Despite no actual change in their total number of squadrons, the 1B411 cyber warfare operations Air Force specialty code has 125 empty spots for first-term airmen to fill.
Beyond signing bonuses, the Air Education and Training Command approved a significant change to the training program: rapid advancement. Rather than holding more capable pilot candidates back until an entire cohort has graduated together, the Air Education and Training Command has decided to move student pilots through the curriculum faster. This accelerated advancement allows the most adept pilot candidates to demonstrate proficiency and advance ahead of their classmates instead of waiting for fellow students to catch up.
Marine, Navy and Army Jobs
The duties in some Army jobs cross over to the Air Force. So does service in the Marines and Navy. If you have separated from the Marines, Navy or Army, speak to a recruiter at the Armed Forces Career Center to discover which of your many skills from that branch of service will help you make a smooth transition to the Air Force. Skills learned during Army Ranger, Marine Recon or Navy SEAL training such as air rescue and retrieval or flying into "hot" zones to insert or retrieve personnel will help you be a more effective pilot and make you more likely to deploy in your desired position.