enlisted vs officer air force | USAF Enlisted vs. Officer! Pros & cons explained

Hey, everybody, and welcome back to Space nerd confessions. For those that are new to my channel, I’m Cynthia, and a quick little background of mine. I have eight years of, of experience on the enlisted side in the Air Force as an intelligence analyst, and I recently commissioned through OTS and graduated in December of 2019. And currently I’m in space training to become a space officer in the air Air Force, which in the next few months, I’ll be transitioning into the Space force. So the purpose of this channel is to serve as a platform between me and my viewers, discussing anything along the lines of the Air force or the space force.

So it’s really driven on what you guys have as questions. So make sure to comment with any questions that you may have or any topics of interest. I developed, like, five questions of what you should ask yourself, of how you should approach joining the Air Force. So the first question is, what do you want to do? So are you the hands on type that likes to get the job done, like that technical aspect, or are you a leader or a manager?

Do you want to lead your team to accomplish the mission? The second question is, what kind of career do you want? So what kind of degree do you have or what kind of degree are you willing to pursue? And my advice for this piece is that you stick with a degree or education that you love or that you aspire to be or that you enjoy or that you’re very familiar with and you’re very comfortable with. And by doing this, you know that you can correlate to a job that you’re going to love, whether it’s on the enlisted side or on the officer side.

Another important question to ask yourself is, what are your short term goals and what are your long term goals? So do you know that you want to do 20 years? If not, maybe just do a short enlistment and see if the Air Force is for you, if it’s a lifestyle for you. And if so, if you already have your degree, then you can try to work on a commissioning program, whether it’s OTs or ROTC scholarship. And if you don’t have a degree, well, luckily, you’re in the air force and they’ll pay for your school, and you can work on getting your degree while you’re in.

And that’s exactly what I did. And I was able to commission through OTS. And if you were to do the enlisted route first and you find that you do want to do the 20 years, like I said, that’s where you can do the commissioning piece. And if you want a better retirement. That way you can shift over and going off.

That leads into my next question, which is, how much does pay matter to you? So comparing the retirement income versus the career lifetime income, you need to compare and contrast the pay for enlisted an officer and see what best suits you. And for my last question, it’s an overarching question of them all. But what suits your personality? So kind of a combination of everything.

So do you want to get a degree? Do you want to lead? Do you want to be hands on? Do you want to do 20 years? What is your end goal?

All right, so what’s my advice? So I advise you to join, enlist into the air force, then work on getting your degree. If you already have your degree, great. Then continue on a higher level degree to make your package even stronger than it would be before. If you don’t have your degree, then take advantage of that free education.

As you’re working on your degree, you’re gaining experience in the career field of interest. You’re also seeing if the air force is for you. And once you feel ready to apply for ots, whether it’s you finishing your degree or gaining a certain amount of experience, then apply for OTS. And just because you don’t get in the first or second or third time around, which they have multiple boards a year, doesn’t mean you should give up. The longer it takes that you do get accepted into OTS.

You’re still gaining more experience, and you’re gaining more time in service, which is getting closer to that retirement. Most importantly, find what is right for you. Do your research and pursue what you love or what you find interest in. So just try your best to match your personality and your goals whenever you make the decision. So today I’ll be discussing whether you should join the Air Force as an enlisted member or as an officer and what the pros and cons are for each side.

I developed the pros and cons and the why and why not off of a poll from about 50 officers with diverse backgrounds. So I’m able to incorporate their opinions and their experiences throughout my video. So first, I’ll be talking about the benefits of joining the Air Force as an enlisted member. It is not uncommon for enlisted personnel to have a degree. So whether or not you join the Air Force as an enlisted member, with or without a degree, you do have potential for applying to become an officer in your career.

Obviously, for those that don’t have a degree, you’ll have the opportunity to go to school while you’re enlisted and knock out your degree for the first few years that you are in the Air Force, and it’ll be on the Air Force’s dime. So to start things off on the enlisted side, as far as pros, there’s about eight of them that I’m going to discuss, and I’ll try to keep them short and sweet. So for the first pro on the enlisted side, it suits the hands on types. So there are a lot of enlisted personnel that have a degree, but they prefer to stay on the enlisted side because they love the technical aspect of their job. And another pro for being enlisted is for those that love to be a part of a team.

You’ll be more of a team player on the enlisted side since you have more interaction with the team. And because of this, you’re able to relate to the airmen around you as a supervisor or potentially a leader. And the next benefit may be obvious, but you do get a free education. By enlisting into the Air Force every year, you’ll get $4,500 that you can apply for education. So like I mentioned earlier, you can get your undergrad degree or your grad degree.

So if you do have that desire to commission, this is where you can take advantage of that free education and balancing some experience in the air force before going to the officer side of the air Force, and another pro for the enlisted side, which also kind of applies to the officer side. But there are a plethora of career opportunities to get out of the air force. So whether or not you do have a degree, your several years of experience will provide opportunities for you, and it’s a plus. If you do end up doing 20 years, you can retire at 20 years in the military, and you’ll have your pension, and you could apply for any outside career opportunities afterwards. So the next pro is that by enlisting first and maybe commissioning later on your career, it provides you a lot of insight.

So for those that don’t have any military background or military families, it’ll provide a lot of information and experiences in the air force. So you can kind of learn about the Air Force culture or the ranking structure or the just air force mentality and kind of getting an idea of if that’s something what you want to pursue. Additionally, prior enlisted officers, also known as priory, tend to get a little bit more respect up front just because they have that enlisted background to kind of shape them into a better leader, just because they’re able to relate to the enlisted because they were once in their shoes. Also, by enlisting into the air Force, you get a chance to mature where on the officer side, they have a lot of expectations of you, like, right up front, whether you’re moving out of your parents’house, or moving out of the college dorms, there’s a lot of learning and growing up to do. And then on the enlisted side, from learning to be a day to day adult or just how to be an airman, there’s definitely a lot of room for growth.

And the last thing I want to mention for enlisted pros is that there is a bunch of support. So if you do want to commission, make it known early so that way your unit can set you up for success to help you build a strong package for ots. Or even if you end up wanting to do an ROTC scholarship. At the end of the day, just make sure you surround yourself with mentors, whether it’s on the officer side or the enlisted side, so they can help set you up for success for whatever your career goals are. And next, I’m going to be covering the cons of enlisting in the Air Force for those that have an aspiration to be an officer in the Air force.

However, because I do love my air force, I’m going to have a rebuttal for each of these disadvantages just to show that you can overcome these lows. So, for the first con, for those highly motivated airmen or those that have a degree tend to say that they should have went officer. But my rebuttal to that is, it’s okay. There are plenty of commissioning opportunities, whether it’s through OTS or through ROTC scholarships, to become an air force officer, whether you have a degree or not. The next disadvantage is that enlisted are paid less than officers.

However, the air force offers plenty of benefits for a brand new airmen without a family. When they show up to their first base, they’re provided dormitories, food at the dining facility, and great medical benefits. And then once you get to a certain rank, you’ll start moving off base. And this is where you’re going to get a tax free base housing allowance, and then also food allowance, and then you still have that medical coverage for yourself and your family. I also want to mention that just because you enlist first doesn’t mean you are guaranteed in OTS.

So, yes, it is still difficult and very competitive to get into OTS, but as I mentioned earlier, by enlisting first, you’re able to gain some experience while simultaneously making your package stronger for the next border. And for the last con for the enlisted side is that promotion testing can be daunting. But there are plenty of study materials that you can use to help prepare yourself for the promotion testing, and as long as you set it as a priority, it is possible. Next, I’ll be talking about the pros for joining the Air Force as an officer right off the bat. Becoming an officer straight off the bat suits those that are just naturally born managers or leaders.

Another benefit is that you are paid well, like right off the bat. And then also another pro is that you don’t have to live in the barracks for your first assignment. Additional pros include more automatic respect, a better retirement, and lastly, you don’t have to worry as much about promotions on the officer side. Promoting up to three is almost guaranteed, and then four and above. That’ll be more on a board basis, but you won’t be doing any promotion testing.

All right, so now I’m going to go into the cons of joining the Air Force as an officer without any enlisted background. And for the first disadvantage as joining as an officer without any enlisted background is that you may feel uncomfortable leading in a force that you’re not really familiar with. Whether they don’t have a military background or if they’re just not a natural born leader, it could be an uncomfortable situation for those. And another possible con is that you have a difficulty making challenging decisions. Whereas if you have that enlisted background, you’re able to grow up in the ranks and learn a lot along the way, and that will help you make the better decisions and set organizational goals and seek the best in others.

Another disadvantage is that as you rank up as an officer, the more distant you are from your lower enlisted team, and it causes a shift in your relationship. Also, for officers, it’s not a very hands on job, with an exception of being a pilot or any rated positions or engineers. And like I said, OTS is just extremely competitive. So if you are thinking about going in officer right away, do you have enough to be competitive to apply for an OTS board? That’s the question that you need to ask yourself.

So I hope this is a great resource for those that are unsure whether to enlist or join as an officer into the United States Air Force. Please. Like I said before, if you have any questions, comment below and let me know. If there’s any topics of interest. Make sure to subscribe and I will see you next time.

Bye. Thank you, guys.

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