In the pursuit of knowledge: top 10 ways to get schooled in the Air Force.
Whether it's mandatory or voluntary, the Air Force offers numerous avenues to pursue and further your education. Though not an all-inclusive list, the following is Airman's list of the "Top 10 ways to get 'schooled' in the Air Force."
The Community College of the Air Force enables you to earn an associate's degree by capitalizing on your on-the-job and technical training. Enlisted Airmen are automatically enrolled upon graduation from basic training. More than 15,000 associate of applied science degrees are awarded annually and more than 125,000 Airmen are working toward their CCAF degree at any one time. http://www.au.af.mil/au/ccaf/index.htm
2 TECH TRAINING
Technical training is the foundation in which Airmen learn the required core skills and knowledge to perform in specific career fields through class instruction and hands-on training. It's also a good start toward earning college credits.
3 ON-THE-JOB TRAINING
One of the most beneficial ways to gain skills and knowledge is through hands-on experience. On-the-job training furthers the skills you learn in technical training, college and basic training by challenging you to manage all the elements in a job environment.
Professional military education is a career-long process and a must as you climb the ranks. PME helps broaden your horizons, sharpen your leadership skills and gain a better understanding of the Air Force as an institution. Some PME schools are also open to civil service employees. http://www.au.af.mil/au/facts.php
5 CLEP EXAMS
The College Level Exam Program is one way to earn college credit without having to sit through classes. By taking CLEP exams, you can get a head-start on your degree by earning up to 12 college credits. http://www.petersons.com/airforce/clepcenter.asp?sponsor=8
Education With Industry is a unique way to broaden your horizons by exposure to how civilian organizations operate. As an alternative to formal training, EWI offers Airmen and civil service employees the opportunity to work in a civilian corporation or government agency. https://www.afit.edu/cip/ewi.cfm
If you're looking to further your professional knowledge and/or pursue an advanced degree, the Air Force Institute of Technology located at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the place to be. AFIT has three resident schools which offer graduate degree programs and numerous professional continuing education courses. AFIT also manages Airmen pursuing graduate degrees full-time in civilian universities. https://www.afit.edu/
8 CONTINUING EDUCATION
Whether it's a one-day workshop at the auto skills center, a seminar at your base family support center or obtaining certification through a community college, continuing education gives you the opportunity for self improvement in areas of your liking. Most communities offer programs that cover foreign languages, art, music, computers, exercise and more.
9 DEGREE PROGRAMS
In addition to AFIT, you can pursue a degree during off-duty hours through a civilian university. Most universities usually have a variety of programs and some classes are held on base for your convenience. Many programs are accelerated or are tailored to meet the needs of a demanding military career. Contact your local base education office for more details.
10 TROOPS TO TEACHERS
Reflecting the focus of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the primary objective of Troops to Teachers is to recruit quality teachers for schools that serve students from low-income families throughout America. The program helps relieve teacher shortages, especially in math, science, special education and other critical subject areas, and assists military personnel in making successful transitions to second careers in teaching, http://www.proudtoserveagain.com/pages/808014/index.htm
If you're in pursuit of an education but deployments or graveyard shifts don't mesh with classroom education--online training is the way to go. Many universities offer online programs to keep your education goals intact despite a hectic TDY or deployment schedule. http://www.petersons.com/airforce/search.asp?sponsor=8
For most Airmen, educational aspirations can only reach as far as the pocket book allows--there's help available. The Air Force Tuition Assistance program is designed to help active-duty personnel pursue voluntary, off-duty educational opportunities. For more information contact your base education office or check out the Air Force Virtual Education Center in the Air Force Portal, http://www.my.af.mil/.
photo by Master Sgt. Scott Wagers