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What Does a SERE Specialist Do?

SERE is a specialized career field in the United States Air Force. A SERE specialist is trained to return from isolated events with honor. SERE stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape. The training of SERE specialists consists of surviving various captivity situations and learning to adapt to all hostile conditions.

Expert Fields

SERE specialists normally operate in the field of personnel recovery, supporting tasks such as location, reporting, supporting, recovering and reintegrating. Through training, a SERE specialist will become an expert in methods utilized to survive in a variety of locations including the desert, arctic, open ocean, jungle, mountain regions, captivity and in-combat situations. Further, upon completion of the approved training program, you can wear the SERE Specialist Arch, the SERE Beret and the AETC Instructor badge.


After successfully completing the SERE Indoctrination Course at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, you will go to Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington where your initial training will take place. Before starting this technical training, you will need to pass the Combat SERE Training course and the Water Survival and Non-Parachuting course. The Combat SERE Training course includes 11 days of academic, laboratory and field training regarding survival and evasion techniques. After the Combat SERE Training course, you will receive training on surviving captivity. Further, you must complete a Water Survival, Non-Parachuting course, a two day, hands-on training course with equipment used in actual water survival situations.

Job Benefits

SERE specialists typically receive special pay bonuses after graduating from the SERE Specialist Training. The SERE bonus is $3,000 after four years of work as a specialist or $16,000 after six years. Soldiers who re-enlist after completing SERE training with six years of service will receive approximately $55,000 per year and soldiers with four years of service will receive approximately $35,000 per year. The actual salary you will receive also depends on your rank at the time of re-enlistment. Additionally, SERE specialists can also receive monthly pay bonuses for special duty that range between $150 and $300 per month and temporary duty pays of $155 per month.


To qualify for the SERE training program, you need a general Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery score of 55 or higher. Additionally, you will need to have normal color vision no worse than 20/400 correctable to 20/20. Further, you need the ability to lift 70 pounds on a machine above your head and demonstrate general physical fitness. Moreover, you will have to pass the SERE Physical Aptitude Stamina test and carry a 65-pound backpack for 4 miles in less than one hour.


Brian Bass has written about accountancy-related topics and accounting trends for "Account Today." He works as a senior auditor specializing in manufacturing and financial services companies for one of the Big 5 accounting firms. Bass hold a master's degree in accounting from the University of Utah.