Your goals are in your hands
Becoming an Airman is incredibly rewarding, and you can expect to encounter challenges along the way. Once you’ve decided upon a career and future with the Air Force, you can take the physical, mental and emotional steps necessary to make your journey as successful as possible.01
Start strong. Finish stronger
Military training is a challenge common to all new Airmen. Whether you follow the enlisted or officer path, your period of military training will be push you to your physical limits.
Enlisted Airmen begin their Air Force career in Basic Military Training (BMT). Even if you’re an athlete, it can be more challenging than you expect, and it’s highly recommended that you prepare well in advance. We’ve designed a 14-week training schedule that includes running, push-ups, sit-ups and stretching to help prepare candidates for the rigors of BMT.
When you begin your Air Force career as an Officer, you’ll go through training during Officer Training School (OTS) or Commissioned Officer Training (COT) that’s physically intense. We suggest you begin working out and working on strength and conditioning at least three to five times per week, no later than six weeks ahead of your departure for training.02
Train more than your body
The Air Force emphasizes constant learning and innovation, which is why we look for the best and brightest to join the Air Force team. To maintain our high standards, we assess the aptitudes and abilities of all incoming Airmen. Preparing for these tests is a key step you can take to ensure your application is competitive.
When you apply to join as an enlisted Airman, you will take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. High school seniors or graduates must achieve a minimum score of 36 AFQT (overall score), and GED holders must achieve a 50 AFQT.
To prepare, you should take a solid core of courses in mathematics, science and English in high school (and/or college). Academic preparation will help your performance on the Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Word Knowledge and General Science subtests. Technical courses will also help with performance on the Auto Information, Shop Information, Electronics Information and Mechanical Comprehension subtests.
To more specifically prepare for the test, familiarize yourself with the format and content by examining sample questions available on the official ASVAB site. It is highly recommended you prepare in advance. Once you take your initial ASVAB, you must wait one calendar month to retake the test and an additional calendar month to retest a second time. After that, the required wait to retake the test extends to six calendar months.
Before you join the Air Force as an Officer, you must pass the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT). This test is similar to the SAT, with a multiple choice format, and covers topics ranging from verbal and math skills to pilot and navigation aptitude for those interested in flying.
Because the AFOQT is a test of your general knowledge in a large number of subject areas, there is no “best way” to study for it. To prepare for the test, familiarize yourself with the format and style of the questions using our practice pamphlet. Taking the provided practice tests will give you an idea of what the real test will be like, although most items in the AFOQT will prove to be more difficult.
Scores are reported as percentiles ranging from 1 to 99 and the Air Force has established minimum AFOQT standards. Contact your recruiter to find out the specifics on how competitive your particular scores will be in the selection process.
Prepare for some change
Joining the Air Force is a life-changing decision that has an impact on more than just you as an individual. As you make your decision to join, prepare yourself as well as your family for the distance, challenge and change inherent to an Air Force life.
It’s important to talk to your family about your plans. Explain to them why you want to enlist or join as an officer and how it fits your personal, educational and professional goals. Share information for families with them to help them understand what to expect and ask for their support as you work toward your Air Force goals.
Let your family and friends know that you will be living on base in locations all around the world. Create a long-distance communication plan with them and set expectations for a new way of maintaining relationships. If possible, set up communication technologies in preparation for when you’ll be away from home.
Consider in advance how you will handle the challenges and limited communications during military training. During this time, both your physical and mental mettle will be tested. Prepare by consciously practicing self-reliance, confidence and forward-looking optimism rather than indulging in negative emotions like self-pity, discouragement, anger, frustration or defeatism.
Airmen change base locations up to every three years, plus there is the possibility of deployment every 20 months. Careers naturally progress through advancement steps and corresponding changes in responsibility. It’s beneficial to welcome frequent change as a chance for positive growth as an Airman.