Air Force Career Paths

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by Chazkr5, Feb 23, 2010.

  1. Chazkr5

    Chazkr5 New Member

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    Would anyone on here be able to describe to me the differences between being an AF officer as a pilot or as an aerospace engineer? In terms of both life style, type of work, deployments, etc...

    I am either going to be going to the Academy next year or University of Florida and to AFROTC. I know that one way or another I'm going to be an AF officer, just what I want to do is undecided.

    Thank you in advance for any information.
     
  2. Chazkr5

    Chazkr5 New Member

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    I was also wondering if there would be any differences in terms of rank advancement between the two career paths.

    Thanks :)
     
  3. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Well, as a research scientist, you will quickly end up managing projects. You will probably be stationed at one of 3 or 4 CONUS (lower 48) locations.

    As a pilot, you could wind up pretty much anywhere. Most pilots will either deploy or go on TDY trips pretty frequently.
     
  4. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I would believe that engineers meet "line" promotion boards along with the pilots. That being said, statistically pilots have a higher promotion rate than any of their other counterparts.

    What exactly do you mean aerospace engineering regarding the AF? NORAD, NASA? Or do you believe that you will help design the next generation of jets?

    The one thing to understand about being a pilot, is that every airframe has specific bases. Cross over is not common unless the jet is being boneyarded or you took a bad juju assignment and it is payback.

    For example:
    Fly the Strike and you will spend your life floating between Mt Home, SJAFB and Lakenheath. If you are the top of the game and go WIC, you could sprinkle in an assignment to Eglin or Nellis, but that is not the norm. The norm is rotating among the bases that jet is at. Bullet went SJAFB, Elmendorf, SJAFB, Leavenworth, Pentagon (desk assignment) and back to SJAFB.
    When he was with 111 it was Mt Home, UK, Cannon, UK for the majority of people.

    Do not enter in as a pilot believing you will be able to x-train and fly different jets as you would buying a new car every few yrs. You are not likely to have the career progression of flying a 16 for 4 yrs, get into a 22 for the next 6 yrs and spend the final yrs in the 35. It is possible to x-train once, but the majority of people start their career in one plane and finish it in that plane.
     
  5. Chazkr5

    Chazkr5 New Member

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    Thank you for the responses so far.

    By aerospace engineering I mean going into research and design and designing jets, missiles, what ever is needed.

    I understand that I would x-train at all most likely. At this point I'm torn between the two career paths and was wanted a little bit more detailed information as to what each career entails. I know generally what I would be doing in each and I can see myself enjoying each of them, I just want to know a little more about each so I could have a more informed decision going into it.
     
  6. bendaddy

    bendaddy Candidate

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    A similar question - What are some of the military career paths a USAFA grad could follow with a degree in Management? I understand that there are many, but what jobs do Management majors generally pursue?
     
  7. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Designing jets is done corporate and not the AF. Boeing is one of the company that designs the jet, not the AF. Pilots working at Nellis, Edwards, Eglin, Pentagon have a hand in it, but I do not know of any military member who designs the jet and the AF says to bidders go make it.

    To be involved in the aspects of what is needed in a jet is also not done from the freshly minted officer. Bullet works on the 35 requirements as a contractor, (he retired with over 1K hrs and O-5) his counterpart is a Lt. Col pilot. They employ them because they have actual experience as fliers regarding what works and does not work in a jet for the fliers.

    Management majors can do anything from going UPT to PA.
     
  8. bendaddy

    bendaddy Candidate

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    Sorry Pima, but what exactly is "PA"?
     
  9. Chazkr5

    Chazkr5 New Member

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    So if most of the designing of the jets is contracted out, what kind of research and design does the AF do? Both my ALO and the head of the ROTC det. near where I live said that if I graduate with a degree in aerospace or aeronautical engineering, I could potentially work in research and design. I had just assumed that they meant designing jets. What does an officer in research and design, research and design?
     
  10. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    PA means Public Affairs

    Someone else would have to answer research and design questions regarding the AF. I just know the engineers that designed the 15E, 22 or 35 were not AF officers.

    I also know what Bullet's job is currently as a contractor regarding the 35. His aerospace engineering degree has nothing to do with his ability to do the job, his experience flying fighters for 21 yrs has everything to do with it! Everyone in his office that are military are fliers, their office is joint fighter requirements, which means they are involved in what goes into the plane, from ammunition to cockpit seats.
     
  11. nick4060

    nick4060 Member

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