Tech Sergeant Promotions Inch Back Up After Tough Few Years

The Air Force’s selection rate for promotions to technical sergeant neared 20 percent in 2024, bouncing back from historically low rates the previous two years while still trailing the highs of the late 2010s. 

Out of 35,328 eligible staff sergeants, 6,914 were tapped for promotion, a rate of 19.57 percent. Both the number of those selected and the percentage dwarf last year’s statistics, which set a 27-year low: 5,354 selected for a 14.5 percent rate. 

The full list of those selected for promotion will be available publicly June 13 at 8 a.m. Central Time. 

The E-6 promotion numbers continue a slight upward trend across the enlisted Air Force. In May, the service announced promotions to master sergeant with the highest total number selected in six years and the highest rate in three. And in March, the service had its highest selection rate for new senior master sergeants in six years. 

In 2022, the Air Force warned Airmen to expect lower promotion rates for the next several years, particularly for noncommissioned officers, due to recent enlisted grade structure revisions and high retention. Leaders said too many Airmen were getting promoted without enough experience. 

“The majority of the experience decline was attributable to the Air Force trying to achieve an enlisted force structure with too many higher grades,” Col. James Barger, Air Force Manpower Analysis Agency commander, said in a release at the time. “We also found that experience levels would continue to decline unless the Air Force lays in more junior Airmen allocations and fewer E5-E7 allocations.” 

In both 2022 and 2023, the NCO ranks saw some of their lowest promotion numbers since the early 1990s and the end of the Cold War. 

Even the 2024 cycle for new technical sergeants, while an improvement over the previous two years, is a far cry from as recently as 2019, when more than 9,000 Airmen were selected with a promotion rate approaching one-third. Based on data back to 2003 provided by the Air Force Personnel Center, this year’s selection rate is just slightly below historic averages.

Officials have said it could take until 2025 before the service has a “healthier” distribution of Airmen across grades, suggesting at least one more year of lower numbers. 

While the Air Force has now announced E-6, E-7, and E-8 promotion statistics for 2024, E-5 numbers are still to come later this summer. 

Air Force E-6 Promotion Statistics

Sources: Air Force news releases, Air Force Times