It’s human nature to be competitive, and with the Air Force having to make tough decisions during force shaping, no one can afford not to be competitive.
In order to be competitive in the Air Force, it will take a whole-person concept, which has been around for years and consists of work ethic, self-improvement and community involvement. I know a lot of good, competitive people who are on the enlisted retention board list, and hopefully career fields will get the numbers they need voluntarily before having to force good people out of the Air Force.
Now is the time, more than ever, to start taking advantage of the benefits the Air Force offers. There are people who have been in the Air Force for 15 to 20 years and not taken any classes or maybe one or two. Some people I have talked to say, “I joined the Air Force so I wouldn’t have to go to school.” Wrong answer. If you plan on staying in the Air Force, you don’t have a choice. You will never make it past the master sergeant boards with an attitude like that. The Air Force is expecting more from their leaders, and it is getting harder. We are working with fewer resources, and if you want to be successful, you have to be competitive.
For the Airmen getting out voluntarily or involuntarily, make sure you have a plan. Definitely go talk with the education office and see what benefits you qualify for. The job you have in the Air Force will likely determine the direction you go in the civilian sector. Some of those jobs in the civilian sector require certain certifications, which is another benefit the Air Force offers. Those who have a college degree or some type of certification will likely earn more money and have higher chances of getting promoted than those who do not have either.
More times than not, you will be more successful with a college degree. According to data by Education Pays, those with only a high school diploma will earn around $33,000 per year, and those with some college but no degree will earn $39,000 per year.
Those with associate degrees will earn $42,000 per year, while bachelor degree holders will earn $55,000 per year, and lastly, those with master’s degrees will earn $67,000 per year. These are pretax figures. Economist Tony Carnevale projects by the year 2018 the U.S. will need at least 22 million more people with college degrees in order to meet the growing demand for educated workers and at the current rate, America will fall short.
Vince Lombardi is quoted as saying, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”
Being successful doesn’t come without sacrifice. You will have sleepless nights trying to write school papers or staying up to study for exams. You will sacrifice family time, weekend outings, vacations and more, but it will all pay off. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.