Air Force technical training, also known as tech school, is similar to a civilian trade school program and will build your proficiency and prepare you to perform your specialty during your military service. It’s the mid-point between the eight-and-a-half week basic training program, called BMT, at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and a period of focused, on-the-job training that will last from 12 to 96 weeks once you are stationed on a base. A military recruiter can help you determine the details of your technical training in advance when plotting your career path.
Housing and meals are provided to tech school students, however, not for their dependents or spouses. In addition to a benefits package that includes health care, life insurance and a retirement plan, the Air Force provides a salary during tech school that increases based on your rank and service time.
When attending tech school, students find a more relaxed learning environment than the rigid experience of basic training, and that enables them to master tasks and skills. Small class sizes facilitate an interactive experience between instructors and learners, and there is plenty of one-on-one attention when it's needed. All tech school participants pass through a three-phase system to transition from the restrictions of basic training to their new responsibilities and leadership roles on the horizon. Curfew, room inspections and dress codes are enforced. Tobacco use is prohibited, electronics use restricted and alcohol consumption limited for students of legal drinking age.
Time in Air Force technical training school will vary depending on the particular career path you choose. With more than 130 available jobs, schooling times range from a couple of weeks to just under two years, and classes are held eight hours per day for five days a week. For example, airfield management students and space systems operators spend just a month in tech school, while a cryptologic linguist studies for 23 months. The accelerated, intensive study program is arranged into lesson sections called “blocks” that are graded on a pass-fail basis for advancement.
Students who complete BMT usually continue with tech school in San Antonio at Lackland Air Force Base. Other states with installations offering tech school training include California, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Texas and Washington.
You will automatically earn credits for college through the Community College of the Air Force while enrolled in tech school. Then you are eligible to pursue an accredited associate of applied science degree. Through the Air Force Education Program, you can acquire basic learning skills and pursue your studies all the way to the master’s level without ever leaving your assigned base. In an Air Force video, technical sergeant Sarah Sullivan said, “I have three associate degrees and one bachelor's and I’ve never been to a civilian school.” Tuition assistance for off-duty education is available, too.
- U.S. Air Force Technical Training: Advance Your Career
- U.S. Air Force Technical Training: Overview
- Basic Training For Dummies; Rod Powers
- U.S. Air Force: Enlisted Pay
Tricia Chaves began her writing career after working in advertising and promotions for entertainment publisher "The New Times." In 2005, she earned her real-estate salesperson license from the state of Ohio and certification for leasing and property management from the Northeast Ohio Apartment Association. She was certified as a life and weight-loss coach and master practitioner of neuro-linguistic programming in 2011.