Advanced Paygrade (Rank) Programs - USAF
The initial enlistment paygrade in the United States Air Force is E1 (Airman Basic). However, certain categories of applicants can enlist in the United States Air Force and receive advanced paygrade status of E2 or E3. These programs generally require the applicant to already be in the Tier 1 education category (in other words, no double qualifying; if the applicant is using their college credits to qualify for Tier 1, those same credits cannot be used to also qualify for advanced paygrade).
An applicant needs to meet only one of the qualifications listed for advanced paygrade, not all of them; meeting more than one qualification does not make the applicant eligible for an additional advancement.
Advanced Paygrade of E-2 (Airman) Is Authorized for an Applicant Who:
- Has completed two or more years of Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) or college Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and has a certificate or statement on official letterhead from a JROTC unit commander at the high school attended or from the professor of aerospace science (PAS) at the college attended, stating satisfactory completion.
- Was awarded the Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout Award or Girl Scouts of the USA Gold Award and presents the respective award certificate.
- Was credited with over 90 days active duty service and was last separated in a pay grade of E-2 or higher.
- Is a former service academy cadet with over 90 days as a cadet corps member.
- Has satisfactorily completed 20 semester hours or 30 quarter hours of credit from an accredited, degree-granting institution listed in the applicable AIPE* directory for last year attended.
Advanced Paygrade of E-3 (Airman First Class) Is Authorized for an Applicant Who:
- Was credited with more than 12 months of active duty service and last separated in a pay grade of E-3 or higher.
- Was awarded the General Billy Mitchell Award, Amelia Earhart Award, or General Carl A. Spaatz Award╪, or has a letter from Civil Air Patrol (CAP) / USAF / Director of Personnel, CAP National Headquarters, Maxwell AFB AL, that certifies successful completion of award requirements.
- Has completed at least a 3-year JROTC program and has a certificate or statement on official letterhead from a JROTC unit commander stating satisfactory completion.
- Has satisfactorily completed 45 semester hours or 67 quarter hours of credit from an accredited, degree-granting institution listed in the applicable AIPE* directory for last year attended.
- Is an Air Reserve Component (ARC) member who qualifies and enlists for 6 years.
Documents for these programs must be presented as a part of the enlistment program.
Information derived from AFRSI 36-2001 - Recruiting Procedures for the Air Force
Other Advanced Rank Programs
In addition to the above, individuals that are initially enlisting for a period of six years are promoted from Airman Basic (AB) or Airman (Amn) to Airman First Class (A1C) upon completion of either technical training; the indoctrination course (Combat Controller (CCT) (1C2X1) and Pararescue (PJ) (1T2X1) only); or 20 weeks of technical training (start date of the 20 week period is the date of Basic Military Training (BMT) completion), whichever occurs first.
The Date of Rank (DOR) for A1C is then adjusted to the date completed Basic Military Training (BMT) without back pay and allowances.
Information derived from AFI 36-2502 - Airman Promotion/Demotion Programs
*AIPE is the Accredited Institutions of Postsecondary Education (AIPE) book published by the American Council on Education (ACE). NACES is the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services. Colleges and universities not listed (or are listed as “candidate” institutions) in the AIPE directory are not authorized for award of a higher education code or enlistment grade.
╪ Though the General Ira C. Eaker Award is listed in seniority between the General Ira C. Eaker Award and The Amelia Earhart Award under Cadet achievement awards, it is not mentioned in the recruiting manual as being eligible for advanced paygrade.