Enlisted recruits to the military take Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) tests. Each service sets its own basic qualifying score, and your results also dictate which jobs you can do when you start your Air Force career. These are multiple-aptitude tests, and you can take them in high schools, Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS) and Mobile Examination Test (MET) sites. You need to pass to be eligible to join the Air Force, but you must also pass other tests such as a physical.
The ASVAB evaluates your strengths, weaknesses and future potential. It has four main sections: Mechanical, Administrative, General and Electronic. These contain a total of eight or nine tests. The high school test has eight parts: General Science, Arithmetic Reasoning, Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Math Knowledge, Electronics Information, Auto and Shop Information and Mechanical Comprehension. The Production version adds the Assembling Objects sub-test. Some of the tests show whether you are eligible to enlist; others show which career you might follow.
Your basic enlistment eligibility depends on your scores in Arithmetic Reasoning, Math Knowledge, Word Knowledge and Paragraph Comprehension. These results make up the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT), which is used by all branches of the military. Each branch has its own passing score -- in the Air Force this is 36 for high school seniors or graduates and 65 for GEDs. If you pass the ASVAB, then your scores also dictate your future career path. You will discuss options during the enlistment process.
Air Force Specialty Code Jobs
Jobs in the Air Force are divided between the four main ASVAB sections, categorized by the Air Force Specialty Codes of G (General), M (Mechanical) A (Administrative) and E (Electrical). Your ASVAB score in a code has a bearing on whether you qualify for a job. In some cases, a job will have a minimum score from one code or from a choice of two; in others you'll need a minimum score in two codes to qualify. Entertainment jobs also require an audition, and some combat and tactical roles need a Physical Assessment Stamina Test. Typically, roles requiring the stamina test are not open to women.
The ASVAB is for enlisted recruits. You won't need to take the tests if you are a commissioned officer. The Air Force also has its own testing program for officers -- the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT). This is divided into 12 sub-tests, and, as with ASVAB testing, it measures eligibility, ability and future career potential, although the focus is on senior roles and jobs.
Carol Finch has been writing technology, careers, business and finance articles since 2000, tapping into her experience in sales, marketing and technology consulting. She has a bachelor's degree in Modern Languages, a Chartered Institute of Marketing.certificate and unofficial tech and gaming geek status with her long-suffering friends and family.