STO training out of academy, or during?


Sep 24, 2016
I read on this forum that the training takes an extreme amount of time away from and training is mostly secretive. The thread was from years ago, were they referring to time as a cadet or the pipeline after?

Do they train/weed you out during the four years at the academy, or do you just put it down hope to make it through the pipeline?

If you train during the academy, when do you make your desire known to ensure you are put into the same training program? Is it the same time say one who desired to become a pilot would announce his? If there is training at the academy, and you get washed out are you allowed to choose a rated slot?

Just was thinking -- if I didn't get into the academy I would want to cross train over, so why not consider doing both. Thanks for your time.
I can provide some info. My son is a sto. However, he didn't apply for sto selection until after the academy. His situation was a little unique. He graduated the academy with a pilots slot. But he was also selected to go to grad school after the academy for 3 years toget his master's and PhD. During those 3 years at grad school is when he had a change of heart and wanted to be a sto instead of a pilot. So during his 2nd year of grad school, he got permission to apply to sto. He tried out and didn't get accepted the first try. He was offered a second try 6 months later and was selected. They took back the pilot slot, and when he finished his PhD, he went off to sto training. He's been doing that for the last year and a half.

Now, having said all that, a friend of his in his academy class, also put in for sto while at the academy. Like other jobs however, you don't find out if you get that job until the beginning of your senior year. For sto however, they have 2 selections per year. March and September. If your initial application for sto is approved, you'll be invited down to Florida for selection. It's a tryout. For about a week of pure physical hell. Out of 25 +/- accepted to this selection, only about 5 actually get selected. If you are one of the fortunate ones, then you'll go into the 2 1/2 year training pipeline after the academy. If not, then you'll probably get one of your other job choices. Unless they see enough in you to offer you a 2nd try. This is rare.

As for training for it at the academy, I believe, you are pretty much on your own. You may find others in your class interested in it and you might train together, but I don't believe there's any official training prior to applying, getting your application accepted, and going to Florida for hell week selection. My son simply trained hard physically. Lots of running, swimming, pull-ups, push-ups, etc. you can go online and see what the requirements are.

When my son didn't make it the first try, it wasn't because of the physical test. Of the 25+/- who started hell week, only 12 made it through. The rest quit. Of the 12, they selected 5. They thought he had what it took physically, but wanted to see more growth in leadership. So they let him try again. Each person is different.

Not sure if this answered your questions, but hopefully it did. Best of luck. For what it's worth, there are less than 100 officers who are STO's. So, if you really want it, you'll have to work hard. Physically and mentally.
I'm a little confused about what exactly you're asking, but I'll tell you all the info I know about the process to go STO from USAFA- which unfortunately isn't very much. Perhaps someone with more knowledge can help out, too.
If you get picked up for STO from "selection" (from what I understand, a 1-2 week long screening process to determine whether or not you are fit mentally/physically for the job), that will be your AFSC (job) after your time as a cadet. So you go to USAFA for 4 years, graduate and commission, and then go to the actual STO training.
However, cadets that are interested in STO spend a significant amount of their own time physically preparing for selection and the pipeline. This isn't just your typical workout regimen; we're talking about swimming, drown proofing, all of those aspects of training that will be required of you in selection and training. During your firstie year, you can go to selection if you pass the physical fitness test required beforehand and have chain of command approval. Keep in mind that despite the hard work and effort you may put in beforehand, they may not pick you up at selection. I know a grad that had to go through selection twice in order to get "picked up" for the job, and another who was in fantastic shape/was a great leader, but simply could not get the drown proofing down. Just like other very tough career fields, a lot of people don't make it- it takes a lot of dedication to get through! That means spending your cadet career getting ready for selection and letting your chain of command know about your interest.
I wish you the best!
As far as I'm aware you do battlefield airman training on weekends and on your own at the academy starting freshman year (this is optional I believe, but highly recommended?). Then they solicit volunteers early your C2C year (junior year) via email. You complete the fitness test and apply for a phase 1 slot? Then the summer going into C1C year you go for about a week for essentially tryouts to move on in the program. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong. Pilot does not have to be officially decided till end of your C2C year.
Thank you all for sharing your knowledge with me! Are you able to say, apply for a pilot slot before you/concurrently with selection? Obviously would rather take sto if selected although like you all shared there are very limited slots.
It's concurrent. So when you get your job drops senior year you can get STO and pilot then you usually have a little time to decide. I know this because someone had this exact same situation last year.