Air Force Specialty Codes

Each digit in the code tells something about the person in the job

Airman 1st Class Charles Manarino zeroes in his weapon before a shooting exercise March 7, 2013, at the Jinjui Air Force Education and Training Command firing range, South Korea. The air police special-duty team course aims to train American and Korean airmen in tactics for base defense. Manarino is a 51st Security Forces Squadron member.
An Airman takes aim during a shooting exercise. U.S. Air Force photo / Staff Sgt. Emerson Nuñe

In the Army and Marines, an enlisted job is called an "MOS" (military occupational specialty). In the Navy and Coast Guard, an enlisted job is called a "rating."

But in the Air Force, an job is known as an "AFSC," which stands for Air Force specialty code. 

It's a five-digit alphanumeric code for enlisted Air Force personnel, four digits for officers, sometimes modified with additional characters for more precise identification.

 

History of Air Force AFSCs

When it split from the Army in 1947, the Air Force continued to use the MOS system to describe its jobs. This changed in 1993 when it introduced the current system used today in a major restructuring. This allowed the Air Force to streamline its workforce somewhat; the number of enlisted jobs was trimmed from 203 to 176, and officer jobs were reduced from 216 to 123. 

Here's how the AFSCs break down. 

Meaning of Characters in AFSCs

The first number in the AFSC is the career group. There are nine Air Force career groups Operations is 1 and includes jobs such as aircrew operations, cyber warfare, intelligence, remotely piloted aircraft and weather.

Maintenance/Logistics is career group 2, and includes aerospace maintenance, logistics and missile and space systems maintenance. Jobs in career group 3, Support, include cyberspace support and civil engineering and security forces.

The Professional career group, number 5, includes paralegals and chaplains, and career group 6, Acquisitions, includes contracting and financial management.

Special Investigations is career group 7, and career group 8, Special Duty Assignments is used for specialized jobs like instructors, couriers and training leaders.

Special Reporting Identifiers is a designation for a temporary status, such as a trainee, prisoner, or someone in a group that is otherwise temporary. It's career group 9.

The second digit is a letter that identifies the career field. The third digit is a number indicating the career field subdivision, also known as the job functional area.

Skill Levels in AFSCs

The fourth number in the AFSC indicates a person's skill level. For example, someone with the AFSC "1A051" has a five skill level.

An individual receives the "1" (helper) skill-level when they enter technical school for the AFSC. Upon graduation from technical school, they receive the "3" (apprentice) skill level.

Individuals are normally awarded the "5" (journeyman) skill level after a period of on-the-job training and correspondence courses, or CDCs. Depending on the job, this process can last anywhere between 12 and 18 months.

Upon promotion to Staff Sergeant, individuals enter training for the "7" (craftsman) Skill Level. This level training includes more CDCs, more on-the-job training, and for some jobs, a 7-level technical school. Once promoted to E-8, the person receives a "9" (superintendent) skill level.

The final digit (numeral) indicates further job division within the same functional area.

Specific skills (such as the type of aircraft) are designated by suffixes, such as "A" or "B."