Being the aerial service branch of the U.S. Armed Forces and one of the 7 American uniformed services, the Air Force is one of the most prestigious branches of the military.
Also, it is one of the most scientifically and technologically advanced air forces around the globe excelling in its core functions such as:
- Nuclear Deterrence Operations
- Air Superiority
- Special Operations
- Global Integrated ISR
- Space Superiority
- Rapid Global Mobility
- Personnel Recovery
- Global Precision Attack
This branch of the military is tasked with the responsibility of providing air support for land and water forces, and assist in the recovery of troops in the field.
Other than handling matters of national security, the Air Force also offers many other job opportunities for US Citizens.
Related Article – Air Force Jobs List: A List Of All AFSC’s In The Air Force
Being in this military branch is prestigious and a matter of huge pride, where your job will touch many lives and have far-reaching consequences.
As with any other job in the armed forces, there are several air force pros and cons.
In this post, I will be listing 10 pros and cons of the Air Force.
Pros Of Joining The Air Force
Pro: It Is a Prestigious Branch of the Military
The Air Force gets a lot of admiration from its sister branches because of the many luxuries they have. For one, they have the biggest budget per person in the military (bigger than the Navy). Also, by enlisting in the Air Force, you get halfway to a 2-year degree. The Air Force has an accredited community college that offers basic training as PE credits and puts your Tech School training en route for an Associate Degree. They are envied by other branches of the armed services.
Pro: Living Accommodations Are Better
The Air Force has a reputation of having some of the best programs when it comes to quality of life; they have the best dormitories for their officers, family housing, recreation, and on-base shopping and services. This is possibly because they have a bigger budget and a head start in using some of it to fund, establish, and maintain the quality of life programs.
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Pro: Free Healthcare & Housing
The Air Force offers all its Airmen and their families’ world-class insurance plans. They receive low cost, full medical and dental care at military and civilian facilities. Airmen also get full pay and allowances even during sick days, and they are also given low-cost life insurance.
When it comes to housing, members who have dependents can live on-base in the military family housing offered for free or off-base where they receive a significant monthly housing allowance.
Pro: Career Opportunities after Service
As an Airman, you are offered an opportunity to pursue different career paths related to the Air Force to enable you to achieve your true potential. On day one, you get enrolled in Community College, an accredited Air Force college, to start with Basic Military Training. Also, the Air Force offers outstanding Airmen scholarships to complete their college education. You can also receive up to 100 percent tuition assistance through their Tuition Assistance Program, Montgomery GI Bill, or the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Related Article: 10 Best Air Force Jobs For Civilian Life
Pro: A Chance to Better Yourself
During your stay at the Air Force, you will receive valuable training in different fields including aviation, engineering, and other fields. It will also teach you to have a balance in life in terms of having the right combination of independence and support. You will be able to find yourself in the Air Force and know where you fit in a complex society. This will enable you to focus on yourself and improve your life
Pro: GI Bill
The GI Bill refers to the education benefit earned by Members of Active Duty, National Guard Armed Forces, and Selected Reserve. It is provided for by the Department of Veterans Affairs. This benefit is meant to help service members and selected veterans cater for all the costs associated with getting training or education.
Once you join the Air Force, Tuition Assistance Programs offered by Air Force take over your tuition costs for academy classes that you take in your off-duty time. At the same time, you can use your Post-9/11 GI Bill funds to pursue other education programs or training.
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Pro: Gain Leadership Skills
At the tactical or personal/direct level, members of the Air Force master their primary duty skills. Furthermore, they develop experiences in applying these skills and also acquire knowledge that enables them to display competencies that is essential to effective leadership. This means they learn how to motivate and influence others to achieve a certain mission.
Pro: Learn a New Skill at No Cost
While at the Air Force, you have different sponsorship programs including GI Bill funds and Air Force Tuition Assistance programs that allows you to learn new skills without you having to pay for anything. You will receive valuable training in different fields without paying a dime.
Pro: Guaranteed Paycheck
Air Force salaries are structured based on experience and rank. If you do not have dependents, your paycheck will only contain a base pay. However, you are guaranteed a paycheck as long as you meet all the requirements of your contract with this service.
Pro: Retire Young
Airmen are eligible for retirement after 20 years of service, and they begin to receive their benefits on the day they retire. Air Force provides a generous retirement plan that requires no payroll deductions.
This is a huge benefit; you retire early and get to enjoy all the benefits of retirement.
In this era where corporations maximize income by scraping off employees benefits as well as the general lack of job security, the secure benefits offered by the Air Force are enough reasons to convince you to join this service.
Related Article: Top 20 Reasons To Join The Military
For many, this is the only path to getting professional status. For others, it is a gateway towards attaining self-reliance and maturity as well as get a chance to explore the world.
Let’s look at potential dangers and downsides to joining the Air Force.
10 Cons of Serving in the Air Force
Con: You Won’t Always Get the Job You Want
After training, you are assessed to determine your strengths and weaknesses. If your recruiter sees that you are better at aviation engineering than piloting, then you will have to work in the aviation engineering field. Your choices and desires matter less when it comes to job placement at the Air Force.
Con: No Matter Your Age, Rank Still Overrides
As mentioned earlier, salaries and remuneration are structured based on ranks and experience. This means a younger Air Force officer can be paid better than you because of rank. However, the years you have served are also considered when it comes to salaries.
Con: Very Little Choice of Where to Live
Although you have the option of staying off-base especially if you have dependents, most of the times, you will be forced to live on-base for easy accessibility in case of emergency. And even if you stay off-base, you cannot live far away from your military operation base for accessibility in case you are called upon for duty. This restricts you from living in your desired destination.
Related Article – How to Join the US Military as a Non-Citizen
Con: Lack of Individuality
Once you join the Air Force, you can’t just do what you want in terms of your appearance. You must live as per the set rules. You cannot wear whatever you want or cut your hair in a certain way. You are under a set of rules when it comes to appearance; you need to look and act as a member of military forces.
Con: Harder To Get In as Compared to Other Branches
The Air Force, together with Coast Guards, are the hardest services to join. This is because they get more volunteers than the slots they have open. This allows it to be more selective when interviewing and accepting applicants than other military branches. Also, the number of slots available is always few compared to those reserved for Navy and Army.
Related Article: 41 Questions To Ask Military Recruiters
Another factor that makes Air Force the hardest service to get in is that their numbers keep decreasing because of advances in technology which means less taskforce is required to maintain and operate their weapon systems.
Most Air Force members get deployed at some point in countries where air attacks are needed. Sometimes, you can volunteer for these deployments while other times, you are ordered to go. Deployments are worrying for both the individual as well as their families back at home.
Con: Very disciplined
Air Force expects you to always be a great human being or as they call it; be a “Whole Person.” This means that you have to be good at your job, be in good shape, improve yourself by taking additional classes, be involved in sports and other activates on base, volunteer around the community, mind other people’s welfare, etc. You are expected to be a highly disciplined person who conducts himself/herself in a good way.
Con: You Can’t Quit
There is no way to quit the service once you are on active duty. You are under contract, and the Air Force expects you to see your contract through with commitment and respect. However, there are special cases whereby you can be discharged from duty if you are psychologically or physically unable to perform your assigned duties. You have to see your 4 or 6 year contract through.
Con: Family Separation
With regular travels in and out of the country, being in the Air Force can be hard on families. You will find yourself missing anniversaries, family reunions, birthdays, etc. You can always attend these events, but it may not be as flexible as it would have been being in a civilian job.
Related Article – 10 Benefits Of Being A Military Wife (and 5 not-so good things)
Con: Corporate-like Atmosphere
In the Air Force or military in general, you are taught to take the blame, share credit, and put your team first. Also, in the military, you have to take orders. You cannot execute anything or carry any task without permission from your seniors. This limits personal judgment even on simple matters.
Although some of these disadvantages are often exaggerated in the public’s domain, they are nevertheless real. Therefore, it is up to you to decide if they are worth it or not.
The U.S. Air Force is one of the most prestigious places of work. Other than handling matters of national security, the Armed Forces provide many other job opportunities for US Citizens. Being part of an organization whose purposes is to preserve peace and security, and also defend the US air space and its territories, you will be in a better place to serve your country. However, just like any other job, this, too, comes with its share of pros and cons.
The benefits, as well as the downsides, of the Air force we have highlighted here exist in the other military branches as well. That’s why you are advised to join this force out of your personal willingness. But despite the odds, feeling of pride and belonging, as well as your determination, will help you survive and stay in this force. But as always, it is better to join the Air Force wholeheartedly without being coerced.
References / Resources
- Air Force Promotion Timeline for Enlisted & Officers - June 27, 2020
- Air Force Cyber Transport Systems (3D1X2): Career Profile - May 3, 2020
- Air Force Officer Training School (OTS) Guide - April 9, 2020
Is it dangerous to serve in the Air Force?
When compared to other branches of the military (specifically the Marine Corps and Army), the Air Force is considered one of the safer branches to serve in.
What is Air Force pay like?
Like other branches of the military, pay is dictated by the length of time you've served, as well as your rank. There are some specific bonuses that the Air Force offers that may not be available under other branches.
What's the minimum enlistment term for the Air Force?
A typical enlistment contract for the Air Force is 4 years in duration. With that said, certain jobs (called AFSC's) require a longer commitment, typically 6 years.
Does the Air Force see combat?
All branches of the military have the potential of being engaged in armed conflict. As mentioned above, however, the chances are substantially lower than those of the Marines or Army.