ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --
The principal purpose of the Airman Retraining Program is to maintain an equilibrium of manpower across all Air Force specialty codes (AFSCs). The program allows Airmen to retrain into career fields to alleviate manpower shortages. In addition, it grants Airmen the opportunity to move from their current AFSC to another.
There are several retraining programs available to Airmen who are looking to change their AFSC. For example, first-term Airmen can apply through the First Term Airman Retraining Program.
“[First-term Airmen] need to meet time in service requirements,” explained Master Sgt. Jason Pranzo, a 28th Bomb Wing career assistance advisor. “A six-year enlistee needs to have between 59 to 67 months’ time in service, while a four-year enlistee is required to have 35 to 43 months’ time in service.”
Pranzo explained that the time window for first-term Airmen does not move. If an Airmen were to receive orders that fall during their time window, they can apply using an exception of policy letter. Even if an Airmen were to extend their enlistment, their time window wouldn’t change.
Furthermore, Airmen can’t possess an unfavorable information file (UIF); have a negative comment on their most current enlisted performance report (EPR); and can’t be under investigation by the Office of Special Investigations. Airmen are expected to be a five skill level within their current career field and need to be eligible for promotion and reenlistment.
“[First-term Airmen] don’t need permission from their supervisors, their commanders, their first sergeants, or superintendents,” said Pranzo. “As a first-term Airmen it’s your right to apply, unless you self-eliminate.”
While Pranzo made it clear that first-term Airmen don’t require leadership approval, he does recommend that Airmen are transparent with their leadership.
“If an Airmen is interested in retraining, they should go to their supervisor,” said Pranzo. “A good leader will understand that the person is an asset to the Air Force – if in fact they are. And I would rather retain that asset in the Air Force and let them go on and do other things where they can utilize their natural talents.”
Additionally, noncommissioned officers can apply for retraining through the Noncommissioned Officer Retraining Program (NCORP). The requirements for NCORP are very similar to the First Term Airman Retraining Program but exclude a time window.
“NCORP is for second-term and career Airmen,” said Pranzo.
NCORP has three phases, Pranzo explained. The first phase is voluntary, NCOs can volunteer for AFSCs where there are shortages if they are in an overage career field. The second phase is involuntary, NCO’s in career fields that have manpower overages can be involuntarily placed into a career field with shortages. Phase one and two last for approximately 30 days each. The third and final phase is open to Airmen who were not selected up during phase two. Phase three stays open for the remainder of the fiscal year.
First-term Airmen and NCO’s are encouraged to become familiar with the online retraining advisory
. This is where Airmen can find out if their AFSC is an overage career field. They can also view the career fields that have manpower shortages.
“Retraining benefits the Air Force, we’re spreading manning without having to invest in brand new trainees,” said Pranzo. “The best and the brightest are the ones who are picked up for retraining. The best and the brightest are being put into career fields where their natural talents are going to be utilized. The Air Force ends up with a motivated, highly productive Airman.”
Additional information on retraining can be found on Air Force Instruction 36-2626, Airman Retraining Program; or https://www.afpc.af.mil/Retraining/ .