It seems like every day in the news you hear of a corporate or government computer system that has been exposed to a cyber-attack.
These computer attacks allow intruders to gain access to sensitive information, and they can also severely disrupt entire computer systems.
Since the Air Force relies heavily on advanced computer and software systems, they cannot allow these cyber-attacks to take place.
It’s the mission of Air Force Cyber Systems Operations to help keep these attacks from happening and to keep the Air Force’s vital computer systems and software up and functioning properly.
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This is a super-important job in this day and age when somewhat less than friendly nations employ thousands of people whose only jobs are to initiate cyber-attacks on countries that they look upon unfavorably.
It’s also an Air force job that also comes with one huge benefit.
That’s the ability to gain high paying civilian employment when your time in the Air Force is done.
The competition is tough to enter into this Air Force career, but those that get in find it challenging and rewarding.
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Training and Career Path
Pay and Benefits
Day to Day Life Of A Cyber Systems Specialist
Civilian Career Opportunities
Air Force Cyber Systems Operations Requirements and Qualifications
Here are the prerequisite requirements that must be fulfilled in order to enter into Air Force Cyber Systems Operations training.
- Minimum ASVAB Score of 64 in the general category or 54 on General and 60 on the Cyber Qualifications Test
- Be between the ages of 17 and 39
- Must be a US Citizen
- Possess a GED or high school diploma
- Have normal color vision and depth perception
- Be able to lift 40 lbs.
- Prior knowledge of cyber system elements is recommended but not required
- Completion of the Cyber Systems Operations Initial Skills course
- Successful completion of 8.5 weeks of Air Force Basic Military Training held at Joint Base Lackland in San Antonio, TX (Not required of those with prior military experience or training)
- Completion of a current Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI) that leads to the ability of an Airman being granted access to Top-Secret level material
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Training and Career Path to Become an Air Force Air Force Cyber Systems Operations
Here is the training path that recruits take to become certified Cyber Systems Operations Specialists.
Air Force Technical Training Information
Technical training for this Air Force specialty takes place at Keesler AFB outside of Biloxi, Mississippi.
It lasts approximately 2 ½ months long.
Some people get very intimidated when they think of a career that involves high tech computers and keeping them safe and secure.
That should not be the case if you are truly interested in going into this career field.
The Air Force has laid out this course in a way that the job is not that difficult to learn.
Yes, you will have to give up some free time to study at night but you will not be overwhelmed by the curriculum.
During this technical training, a new Cyber Systems Operations recruit will learn to do such things as:
- Know the essentials that help keep Air Force computer systems safe from cyber-attacks and harmful intrusions.
- Learn the basics of working with both Windows and UNIX servers.
- Become more familiar with Windows operating systems and the Air Force’s centralized network management centers.
- Learn how to perform tasks like administering security permissions, managing and maintaining networked storage, and how to do other database management tasks.
- Be introduced to hands-on training with server hardware, how to install new equipment and learn how to measure, build, and run network cables.
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On the Job Training
As with many Air Force jobs, technical training only provides a foundation for what someone needs to know to work in the field as a Cyber Systems Operations Specialist.
The main core of learning will come from actual hands-on experience gained at a recruit’s first duty station.
This on the job training period will focus more specifically on the exact types of Cyber Systems an Airman will be working on.
It usually takes three to four months of hands-on training for a new Cyber Systems Operations Specialist to be able to perform the duties required of this position on their own.
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Here is a video put out by the Air Force that describes in a little more detail what those in Air Force Cyber Systems Operations do.
How Much Are Air Force Cyber Systems Operations Paid?
Most of those that enter into this career field will start out as an Airman Basic (E-1).
There is a chance though that someone with advanced computer skills or training can start out at a pay rank as high as an Airman (E-2) or Airman First Class (E-3).
|Insignia||Pay Grade||Rank||Abbreviation||2020 Minimum Monthly Pay|
|E-3||Airman First Class||A1C||$2,043|
|E-8||Senior Master Sergeant||SMSgt||$4,480|
|E-9||Chief Master Sergeant||CMSgt||$5,473|
|E-9||Command Chief Master Sergeant||CCM||$5,473|
|E-9||Chief Master Sergeant Of The Air Force||CMSAF||$5,473|
Other forms of pay and incentives may include such things as:
- Housing allowance for those that live off base (BAH)
- Subsistence allowance (Food – BAS)
- Temporary duty pay
- Hazardous duty pay
- Cost of living incentives
- Tuition reimbursement
Of course, all health care requirements for any military member are always 100% covered.
Due to the demand in the civilian world for the skills that Cyber Systems Operators possess and the growing need for them in the Air Force in general, this career field generally has some of the best reenlistment bonuses in the Air force.
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What’s Life Like in Air Force Cyber Systems Operations?
This Air Force specialty is done predominately in a normal office type environment.
Very rarely does an Airman perform their duties in places other than climate-controlled working environments
The locations where one can do this job are also varied as almost every sizeable duty station or base in the Air Force has the need for Cyber Systems Operations Specialists.
Air Force Cyber Security protocols required Cyber Operations personnel to be present around the clock, so there is a good possibility for those that do this job that they will have to work some rotating shifts.
Among the duties these skilled computer professionals perform while working in the Air Force include:
- Installs, supports, and maintains Air Force server operating systems and other computer platforms and software that are pertinent to their operation.
- Ensures that all current defensive computer operation mechanisms are in place and working properly.
- Quickly responds to any service outages or interruptions to Air Force computer network operations.
- Helps to administer and maintain server-based networked systems, corresponding applications, and any associated network storage devices.
- Helps to enable the timely delivery of both classified and unclassified message traffic via email.
- Is heavily involved in database operations including implementing system conversions and investigating any problems in the database environment.
- Ensures continuous cyber systems operations by providing user optimization and problem-solving support services.
- Regularly implements and checks the Air Force computer security policies that safeguard critical cyber systems and information.
- Categorizes, isolates, and then resolves any computer system problems.
- Verifies computer network service outages and restoration with those Air Force customers that are directly impacted by them.
- Processes, documents and coordinates the execution of trouble call tickets from computer system operators.
- Submits detailed reports on the reasons why any unscheduled computer system outages occurred.
- Support information warfare operations under the guidelines of strictly controlled parameters
This is not a bad job for those Air Force personnel that have families either.
That’s because temporary duty assignments are not as prevalent in this Air Force specialty as they are with some other Air force jobs.
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Most of the airmen that have worked in Air force Cyber Systems Operations say it’s a decent and challenging Air Force job that can definitely help launch a well-paying civilian career.
Here are some reviews that were written by people who are former Air force Cyber Systems Operations Specialists.
These reviews were found on the website indeed.com.
Air Force Cyber Systems Operations Civilian Career Opportunities
Civilian jobs for those that have worked as Air Force Cyber Systems Operations Specialist are plentiful and high paying.
That’s what makes it so tough for the Air Force to retain the Cyber Systems Operations personnel that they train.
Starting pay for these jobs ranges from $50,000 a year to above $100,000 depending on the level of experience gained while working in the US Air Force as a Cyber Systems Operations Specialist.
Here are some examples of government agencies and civilian companies that routinely require the skills that Air Force trained Cyber Systems Operations Specialists have to offer them:
- National Security Agency – Fort Meade, MD
- The Adeline Group – Fort Meade, MD
- Crest Security Assurance – Fort Meade, MD
- GRIMM – Stafford, VA
- Booz Allen Hamilton – Quantico, VA
- Sawdey Solution Services – Shaw AFB, SC
- National Security Agency – Honolulu, HI
- Tangent Technologies – Chandler, AZ
- Raytheon – Colorado Springs, CO
- Nowcom Corporation – Los Angeles, CA
Although some government agencies pay slightly less for former Air Force Cyber Systems Operations Specialists than their civilian counterparts, these agencies will give credit towards pay, holiday time, and retirement for the time their employees served their country in the military.
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