Air Force Civilian Service careers: a variety of benefits
“Our professional opportunities let you grow, move, and change jobs altogether, setting you up for a long, varied and deeply satisfying career,” says the top recruiter
Recent graduates and mid-career professionals in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) specialties can pursue a wide variety of opportunities with Air Force Civilian Service (AFCS), reports Michael Brosnan, chief of civilian workforce planning and enterprise recruiting at the Air Force Personnel Center. “Our scientist and engineer (S&E) career field comes to mind first, in which we hire for over sixty different positions.
“Those with an IT background can come from industry but many of them are veterans. S&E Palace Acquire (PAQ) program participants are strictly recent graduates.” The PAQ, he explains, is a developmental program for new S&E grads.
According to Brosnan, many STEM positions require a bachelors degree in engineering or science from an accredited institution. Engineers require a degree from an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)-certified institution.
“About thirty percent of our new hires are in technology, with about thirty percent of those coming to us as recent graduates,” Brosnan says.
In the coming year, he sees opportunities for STEM professionals across many Air Force career fields, including civil engineering, cybertechnology, communications and information, intelligence, logistics, medical services, safety, security, special investigations and weather.
PAQ program gives a competitive edge
He encourages students and entry-level candidates to consider the PAQ program. “S&E PAQ was established to help identify future AFCS leaders,” he elaborates. “The program was established to heighten the Air Force’s ability to maintain the leading edge in today’s technology-intensive environment.”
Brosnan explains that the PAQ offers qualified BS graduates a three-year development and training program. “The first and third years of this program involve work experience, and the second year is dedicated to graduate studies in state-of-the-art technology,” he reports. “During that second year, the participant maintains full salary, and all tuition, fees, and books are paid for.
“Qualified applicants with relevant MS degrees, or BS degrees and one year of professional engineering or science experience, may also be considered for a two-year on-the-job training program,” Brosnan adds. “At the end of the development period, selected candidates will be promoted to jobs as journeyman-level engineers or scientists.
“We may also offer eligible candidates a twenty-five percent sign-on bonus and repayment of qualifying federally insured student loans up to $20,000.”
Vital hiring areas run the gamut
AFCS hires many separated or retired military personnel with technical training and experience. Many come from IT backgrounds. Brosnan notes that “more than fifty-five percent of our current civilian workforce is veterans.”
According to Brosnan, technology areas vital to the Air Force include manned and unmanned air vehicles, space systems, sensors and communications systems, materials, artificial intelligence, directed energy, geophysics, training systems, aerospace systems, photonics, armament technology, and a wide range of activities with technology applications to current and future systems.
“The Air Force offers hands-on experience in some of the most dynamic and exciting research and development projects in the world,” he notes. “A broad spectrum of disciplines is needed to support these activities, including aerospace, computer, electrical/electronics, mechanical and chemical engineering, plus computer science and operations research.”
AFCS hires STEM pros in three broad categories: scientists, engineers and analysts. Each of these is further divided into specific orientations. Thirty scientist roles range from microbiologists and geneticists to physical scientists, metallurgists and astronomers. Twenty different engineering options include nuclear, petroleum and industrial. Nine analytical opportunities exist for actuaries, mathematical statisticians, cryptographers and more.
The Air Force STEM Outreach Coordination Office sponsors scholastic achievement and scholarship programs across the country. These programs advance educations and provide a stepping stone to a job with the federal government straight out of college.
AFCS is proud of its efforts to ensure a diverse workforce. “Our recruiting strategy emphasizes diversity,” Brosnan says. “We target underrepresented demographics to make sure that we continue to look like the civilian labor force.
“AFCS values job seekers with experience gained in our development programs, especially in the science and engineering career fields,” Brosnan notes. “Many federal civilian and Department of Defense agencies value graduates from our programs as well.”
A career with AFCS has many rewards
“A career with AFCS offers everything you could want in a job: quality of life, competitive compensation, excellent benefits and, perhaps most important, personal satisfaction. With all that, you might want to stay a while,” Brosnan smiles.
“Our professional opportunities let you grow, move, and even change jobs altogether, setting you up for a long, varied and deeply satisfying career. Our functions are so diverse, you could spend an entire career with us but still change jobs as often as someone in the private sector. Along the way, you’ll accrue a wide variety of employment benefits. And, if you decide to leave AFCS, your benefits are ‘portable,’ meaning that when you come back, and we’re sure you will, your benefits will be intact!”