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How to Prepare for Joining the Air Force

If you're thinking about joining the Air Force, make sure to do your research first. Here are some of the top things you should know.

By Morgan E. WestlingPublished 5 years ago 5 min read

Joining the Air Force is a huge decision for anyone to make. For most men and women making this choice, going through the enlistment process is their first experience as an adult after receiving their high school diploma. Becoming a service member in the armed forces is no small feat. There are many requirements—mentally, physically, and emotionally—for any person 18 years of age or older to be able to enlist in the Air Force. If you want to join the military, or if you are specifically considering joining the Air Force, here’s a list of how to prepare for training as well as a long-term Air Force career.

If you are considering joining the Air Force, it is very important to do your research. Spend time online or with a recruitment officer and get familiar with every detail of the enlistment process. There are many different questions to ask before joining the Air Force. Learn the difference between the reserves and active duty. Also, you’ll want to learn the difference between being an Air Force officer and being enlisted in the Air Force. Every service member has a different rank, and if you know the basics before beginning your Air Force career, you’ll feel more on top of things.

You must be 18 years of age to join the military. You also must be legally residing in the United States either as a citizen or a non-citizen with a valid green card. Though you don’t need a high school diploma to join the Air Force, you will have to take an aptitude battery (ASVAB) test, which will test basic mathematics knowledge, arithmetic reasoning, and other skills that one would traditionally learn in vocational school. The aptitude battery (ASVAB) is not meant to be difficult, but to make sure every service member is mentally capable of military service. Your recruitment officer will help you organize the rest of your paperwork as well, including bank statements, transcripts, identification, etc.

Fitness is important when joining the Air Force regardless of if you end up in a job that requires physical activity. Everyone in the armed forces must be somewhat physically fit at the beginning, because everyone must go through basic training. To prepare, stay on top of your fitness before being set to basic training. Make sure you can pass a PT test. As you go through the enlistment process, your fitness should be a top priority.

Emotionally, joining the Air Force can be draining. You will be away from family and friends for a long time during basic training and possibly officer training school too. Your body will be going through a lot. Also, you will mentally have to get used to a whole new way of life. Now that the armed forces have control over everything you do, you’ve lost a lot of your personal freedom (even if it is for a good cause). This can be hard to adjust to emotionally.

Medically, the department of defense has set many requirements to make sure our service members are in the best shape when trying to join the Air Force. After meeting with a recruitment officer, you will go to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) where they will give a full medical evaluation. If you are in good health and don’t have any pre-existing mental or medical conditions that would prevent you from serving effectively, you should pass this part of the process.

Once your recruitment officer has qualified you for joining the Air Force, you will get the chance to choose what your job in the Air Force will be. There will be a list of available jobs to choose from, so while you should go in with some idea of what you want, make sure to keep your options open. There are not a lot of vacancies in the Air Force for active duty service members currently, so certain job fields can be more competitive than others. You will make a list of your job choices based on the list provided, and the first one to become available will be where you’re placed.

When packing for basic training, remember the items for every army basic training list: toiletries, paper, pens, a few days’ worth of civilian clothes, a cell phone for the rare times you do get to call home, and any personal essentials you may require. Also important is knowing what not to bring to basic training when you are about to become a new service member of the armed forces. Don’t bring tobacco of any kind, alcohol, food, makeup, personal running shoes, magazines, or jewelry. Basic training is meant for just that—the basics.

It is a known fact that you’ll have to endure basic training when enlisting in the Air Force. No, it won’t be fun, but you will survive it. Everyone who has enlisted in the military has gone through this process, so try to remember that this is something that will unite you with your service members. There are certain things you should expect while at basic training. During basic training, prepare for the strenuous physical activity, the yelling, early mornings, a lot of shots, and a gas chamber experience. Lay low and be obscure during the process. Be prepared to get dirty and be challenged to your core, but know that you will come out on the other end of basic training as a much stronger version of yourself. You will join the Air Force and become an active duty service member.

When joining the Air Force, it is important to think ahead to what your salary will be as an active duty service member and how you will manage your money. Make sure to have someone help teach you how to plan for retirement, make the most of your military benefits right away, manage your taxes, and spend your paycheck wisely. It is likely that you will be making very little to start out, so be frugal and smart.

Joining the Air Force is an extremely big decision for anyone to make, but many military service members will tell you that it is one of the best decisions they’ve ever made. Joining the military gives you a wider view of the world that will make you a more conscious citizen. It will help you adapt to all situations you are thrown into. Most importantly, becoming a member of the Air Force will teach you a lot about yourself as an individual. It might not be the right choice for everyone, but for many, it’s more than worth it.


About the Creator

Morgan E. Westling

Avid Reader, Freelance Writer/Editor, and Lifestyle Blogger

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