Nearly 30,000 Americans joined the Air Force in fiscal year 2018, many doing so without knowing which career field they would go into.
Whether they joined yesterday or are approaching retirement, the one thing all airmen have in common is that they go where the Air Force needs them.
For some airmen, the career field they go into is a great fit; for others that is not always the case. One option for airmen who are not satisfied with their current job is retraining.
“Everything is based on an Air Force requirement,” said Master Sgt. Terrell Tilley, the Joint Base Charleston career assistance adviser. “If there isn’t a need for more people in a career field, it won’t be open for people to retrain into. The key to my job is aligning the needs and wants of the Air Force and Airmen.”
While he acknowledged there is a need to fill vacancies in certain career fields, he also encouraged Airmen to ask questions and use resources to make an informed decision on altering the path of their career.
“I help people get to where they want to get in their career,” said Tilley. “It’s like going on a road trip. There’s someone in the passenger seat telling you what you should do, but then there’s the driver that’s making the actual decisions. I make sure people are in the driver’s seat of their career and guide them through what steps to take to get where they want to be.”
Senior Airman Fawne Maguire, an aerospace maintenance journeyman assigned to the 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, recently sat down with Tilley to discuss her options for retraining.
“I want a job where I can really have an impact on the mission here, but still translates well in the civilian world,” said Maguire. “I’m currently pursuing a degree in human resource management and would like to find a job that I will be able to apply my degree toward.”
Maguire said she is interested in retraining into the public affairs, comptroller, personnel, manpower and aviation resource management career fields. She was able to shadow members of each career field and is still deciding which she would like to pursue before making a final decision.
“I definitely recommend people who are interested in cross training reach out to the career assistance advisor and to see what resources are available for more information,” said Maguire. “I also encourage them to ask a lot of questions and try to job shadow and receive mentorship from people in the careers they are interested in. They could influence your decision by talking about the small details of their job that aren’t in the job description.”
Tilley also recommended Airman take advantage of job shadowing if the Air Force specialty code they are interested in is on base since many jobs require job shadowing or an interview to apply for cross training. Additionally, Tilley advised Airmen interested in cross training to rely on official sources, such as myPers, the Total Force Service Center, Online Retraining Advisory and the base career assistance advisor.
Tilley hosts a Retraining 101 brief every month. He also oversees the First Term Airman Course, informed decision briefings, enlisted to officer briefings and other professional development opportunities. Tilley encourages members to contact their chain of command for the schedule of briefings.