By Senior Master Sgt. William Malcolm
367th Recruiting Squadron
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Have you ever wondered what it takes to become an active duty member of the Air Force? Many have, yet very few know how or where to begin the process of joining the active duty ranks. Known as the prior service program, this simple process is open to certain former members of the military branches as well as those currently serving in the Reserve and Guard forces. The prior service program changes each fiscal year with three categories of opportunity: Direct duty with no requirement for completed years of service; direct duty with a requirement for completed years of service (plus or minus nine months); and various retraining opportunities.
The key element for those wanting to join through the Air Force prior service program is their most recent Air Force specialty code, military occupation specialty or rate. A select number of applicants will fall into the direct duty with no time in service requirements category. This option is reserved for members holding very specific AFSCs. Most applicants will fall into the direct duty with time in service requirements or retraining categories. Applicants not falling into the first direct duty category should refer to their local recruiter for the most recent prior service matrix to determine their tentative eligibility.
The prior service matrix shows the total number of positions the Air Force needs for each AFSC, broken down by total years of service. Simply put, if you have 10 years of service, hold the 2A6X1 AFSC, and there is a positive number in the corresponding cell on the matrix, you may be eligible for the prior service program.
Members who do not qualify for one of the direct duty positions may be eligible to retrain (most common for sister service candidates). On average there is anywhere between 75-110 re-training slots available for all prior service applicants into the following AFSCs:
• 1C2X1 (Combat Control)
• 1T231 (Pararescue)
• 1C431 (TACP)
• 3P031B (Combat Arms)
• 1U031 (RPA Sensor Operator)
• 1T031 (SERE)
• 3E8X1 (Explosive Ordnance Disposal)
• 8R000 (Recruiter)
• 6C031 (Contracting)
The prior service program accepts applicants on a first come, first served basis. However, this total is subject to change based on the Air Force’s needs. Members interested in this program should contact their local recruiter as soon as possible to determine eligibility. For additional information, or to locate your local recruiter, go to http://www.airforce.com/contact-us/faq/prior-service/ or call 548-9899 or 548-8993.