Facing a tough recruiting environment that Air Force Recruiting Service commander Maj. Gen. Ed Thomas recently likened to a “week-to-week dogfight,” the Air Force has expanded its list of jobs that are eligible for initial enlistment bonuses, hoping to entice more potential Airmen.
All told, 22 Air Force Speciality Codes are now eligible for some sort of enlistment bonus—some for four-year contracts, some for six-year deals, and some for both.
That marks a dramatic increase from the beginning of fiscal 2022, when just nine AFSCs were on the list. In April, the Air Force added six career fields, followed by more on July 11. The bonuses will be available until Sept. 30, 2022.
Many of the career fields added this week are in maintenance and offer $6,000 for six-year contracts and $3,000 for four-year deals. The speciality codes are:
- 2A634, Aircraft Fuel Systems
- 2A636, Aircraft Electrical & Environmental Systems
- 2F031, Fuels
- 2M031, Missile & Space Systems Electronic Maintenance
- 2M032, Missile & Space Systems Maintenance
- 2M033, Missile & Space Facilities
- 2T331, Mission Generation Vehicular Equipment Maintenance
- 2W131, Aircraft Armament Systems
Bigger bonuses ranging from $12,000 to $20,000 are available to those who sign six-year contracts for computer-focused fields including:
- 1D731A, Network Operations
- 1D731B, Systems Operations
- 1D731D, Security Operations
- 1D731E, Client Systems Operations
The Air Force is also still offering a “Quick Ship” bonus in which an already fully qualified applicant will get $8,000 to fill a short-notice Basic Military Training vacancy and ship out within five days or less. Thus far, AFRS said in a release, 178 recruits have taken advantage of the Quick Ship bonus.
The Air Force’s expansion of enlistment bonuses comes as all the services are experiencing recruiting challenges, a trend that has started to receive widespread media attention. Even as end strength is projected to decline slightly in the year ahead, recruiters are having a hard time convincing the small pool of eligible young adults to sign up.
At the same time, the Air Force has also recently expanded its list of career fields eligible for retention bonuses, a potential sign that the sky-high retention rates seen during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic have started to slip.
That high retention, however, has had lasting effects. The service announced earlier this month that it was expecting lower promotion rates for certain enlisted noncommissioned officer ranks due to high numbers of eligible Airmen and a shift in force grade structures.
AFSC CAREER FIELD 6-YEAR BONUS 4-YEAR BONUS 1A8X1 Airborne Linguist $20,000 Not Applicable 1D731A Network Operations $12K-$20K Not Applicable 1D731B Systems Operations $12K-$20K Not Applicable 1D731D Security Operations $12K-$20K Not Applicable 1D731E Client Systems Operations $12K-$20K Not Applicable 1D731R Radio Frequency Transmission Systems $6,000 $3,000 1N3XX Crypto Linguist $18,000 Not Applicable 1T0X1 SERE $40,000 Not Applicable 2A534 Refuel/Bomber Aircraft Maintenance $6,000 $3,000 2A632 Aerospace Ground Equipment $6,000 $3,000 2A634 Aircraft Fuel Systems $6,000 $3,000 2A636 Aircraft Electrical & Environmental Systems $6,000 $3,000 2F031 Fuels $6,000 $3,000 2M031 Missile & Space Systems Electronic Maintenance $6,000 $3,000 2M032 Missile & Space Systems Maintenance $6,000 $3,000 2M033 Missile & Space Facilities $6,000 $3,000 2T331 Mission Generation Vehicular Equipment Maintenance $6,000 $3,000 2W031 Munitions Systems $6,000 $3,000 2W131 Aircraft Armament Systems $6,000 3,000 3E8X1 EOD $50,000 Not Applicable 9T500 Special Warfare Operator Enlistment $50,000 Not Applicable 9TE/MAI Any Mechanical or Electrical Aptitude Area $6,000 $3,000 AFRS QUICK SHIP Any AFSC $8,000 $8,000