When you think of the Air Force, you might think of pilots and combat zones. But did you know that within the Air Force are 170,000 civilians who are working jobs that assist in its overall operation? Well, it’s true. There are countless civilian jobs available within the Air Force that help sustain and support its mission: defending the nation and protecting its values.
These Air Force civilian jobs are collectively known as the Air Force Civilian Service and they’re just as committed to the Air Force’s mission as those in uniform and these jobs are a way for civilians to serve a greater purpose without engaging in a military career.
From entry-level positions to, quite literally rocket science, the Air Force Civilian Service does work that is vital to the Air Force and beyond. Just as an example of their importance, the AFCS teams are the ones who came up with GPS. It’s clear that these jobs aren’t only impacting the Air Force – they’re impacting the world.
Here, we’re talking about what these Air Force civilian jobs are, what it means to be qualified and eligible for an Air Force civilian job, and more information about finding the right Air Force civilian job for you.
What is an Air Force Civilian Job?
Civilians often feel just as much of a sense of duty to their country as those serving within the military feel. We all want to contribute to the betterment of our communities and Air Force civilian jobs can often be a way to do just that.
The 170,000 people working in Air Force civilian jobs cover over 600 occupations and professions from engineers in labs and physicians treating Air Force families to HR professionals and police officers.
These Air Force civilian jobs are the backbone of the Air Force community and they’re essential to keeping things running smoothly. Basically, anyone working on an Air Force base but who isn’t serving as a member of the Armed Forces is considered part of the AFCS. They help those in uniform do what they do best.
Air Force Civilian Jobs
When you start looking through Air Force civilian jobs, you’ll notice that the occupations cover a lot of ground. There are thousands of employment opportunities on over 80 Air Force bases throughout the country and overseas.
Air Force civilian jobs fall into the following categories:
- Acquisition and Contract Management
- Administration and Management
- Aircraft Maintenance
- Animal Care and Veterinary Services
- Civil Engineering
- Cyber and Information Technology
- Finance and Accounting
- Fire Protection
- Law Enforcement and Security
- Medical and Mental Health
- Pilot and Simulator Instructors
- Skilled Trades
- STEM Disciplines
- Social Services
When considering applying for an Air Force civilian job, think about which of these categories are most connected to your experience and interest – and go from there.
Benefits of Air Force Civilian Jobs
There are pros and cons to every career path so it’s important to find a job that makes the “not-so-fun” stuff worth it. According to the AFCS, the benefits of pursuing an Air Force civilian job are plentiful, boasting a healthy work/life balance, financial benefits, and opportunities for professional growth.
Starting with work/life balance, the AFCS’s motto is “work to live” not “live to work.” What they mean by that is that your work doesn’t have to be the only thing that matters to you. They want you to be able to enjoy everything else life has to offer and see work as a means to a better life.
Flexible work hours are one way they promote a healthy work/life balance. Working 40 hours a week is the norm, but you won’t be expected to always be in the office from 9 to 5. Personal and family leave is part of the package with ample holiday, sick, and vacation time off.
Also, living on or near an Air Force base can offer a wonderful quality of life. US Air Force bases usually have some of the best schools, medical centers, and a sense of community that only a military town can provide.
Next comes the financial benefits. As a federal employee, Air Force civilian jobs offer incredible healthcare benefits, life insurance coverage options, and three types of retirement funds. You can even carry these benefits with you from one federal job to the next should you choose to leave your position with the Air Force.
And finally, there’s the benefit of professional growth. With a civilian job in the Air Force, you’re offered extensive educational opportunities including on-site training, educational events and programs, and tuition reimbursement if you choose to pursue a degree. You’ll also have access to career planning tools and guidance.
Do You Qualify? Are You Eligible?
So, if all of this sounds interesting and like something you might want to pursue, it’s important to know if you’re qualified and eligible for an Air Force civilian job. Most jobs you may have applied for in the past have qualifications that are necessary for the job, but Air Force civilian jobs also require you to be eligible. What does that mean?
Qualification is based on your education and experience. If you’re qualified for a job, that means you meet the educational requirements and have previous experience working in the field. For example, a physician will need a medical degree and have past experience working in a hospital or doctor’s office in order to be qualified for the job.
However, when it comes to Air Force civilian jobs, you might be qualified, but ineligible. Eligibility refers to regulatory requirements that come from the federal level. Some eligibility requirements might be ensuring that you’re a US citizen or that you’re a certain age.
Make sure to read the job description carefully to ensure you’re not only qualified for the position, but that you’re also eligible.
Finding the Right Air Force Civilian Job
The AFCS website has various tools to help you find the right job for your particular interests, skill-set, education level, and experience. Air Force civilian jobs are categorized as entry-, mid-, and senior-levels and are available to those at various stages in their careers.
Air Force civilian jobs are also categorized for students, recent graduates, veterans, military spouses, and people with disabilities so that when you search for a job through the AFCS, the listings will be narrowed down based on your unique parameters.
From there, the Job Opportunity Announcement will list all the qualifications and eligibility requirements as well as the job duties, salary, location, benefits, and security requirements. You’ll then be able to decide whether you are a good fit for the position.
It will be beneficial to know that there are two authorities the AFCS uses to hire candidates for hard-to-fill positions:
- Direct Hire (DHA)
- Expedited Hire (EHA)
They are both fast-track methods to hire public applicants with no prior federal experience for positions either covered by government-wide authorities or specifically for the Department of Defense.
Positions covered by government-wide authorities include:
- Information Technology Management
- Medical Occupations
- Scientific, Technical, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
- Veterinary Medical Officer
Positions specifically for the DoD include:
- Acquisition Workforce
- Childcare Service Providers for Department Child Development Centers
- Cyber Workforce
- Domestic Defense Industrial Base (DIB) and Major Range and Test Facilities Base (MRTFB)
- Financial Management Experts
- Post-secondary and Recent Graduates
And once you’ve found an Air Force civilian jobs that seems like a good fit, all that’s left to do is apply.
If you’re interested in learning more, the AFCS website has many resources to help. With an Air Force civilian job, you’ll have the chance to be a part of something greater than yourself as support for the strongest Air Force in the world.