by Air Force Staff Sgt. Blake Mize
JBER Public Affairs
3/18/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Take
a look at the biography of any senior Air Force leader and you're
likely to find an extensive list of educational achievements.
This is partly because as Airmen advance in rank, there are more
professional military education requirements, such as Squadron Officer
School and the Noncommissioned Officer Academy, and partly because those
who take advantage of off-duty educational opportunities tend to
advance into leadership roles over time.
The methods by which the Air Force conducts business show that education
is a vital aspect of success in the Air Force, whether attained through
PME, college or both.
For example, a board reviews the records of enlisted members as part of
the promotion cycle to the ranks of senior master sergeant and chief
master sergeant. Officers' records meet a similar board to achieve major
and above. One thing members of these boards consider is each
candidate's commitment to education.
"Education is a huge advantage in getting promoted," said Chief Master
Sgt. Kevin Call, 673d Air Base Wing command chief. "They're not so much
looking at whether you have a bachelor's or a master's degree. They're
looking at if you're continually educating yourself for the betterment
of both yourself and the mission."
All commissioned officers must possess at least a bachelor's degree, but
other than that, no degree is required to advance in the Air Force.
However, Call said it's very rare for enlisted members to achieve the
rank of senior master sergeant if they have not obtained at least an
associate's degree, in their career field's focus, from the Community
College of the Air Force.
"It's not written in stone, but to get a senior-rater endorsement on
your senior NCO [enlisted performance report], you have to have your
CCAF and Course 14 done," Call said. "If you don't have a senior-rater
endorsement [as a master sergeant], you're not going to get promoted."
Course 14 is a computer-based, prerequisite PME course needed prior to attending the Senior NCO Academy in residence.
Promotion is just one area where off-duty education is beneficial to an
Airman's career. Besides the advantage of becoming better educated, the
initiative to pursue higher learning also bolsters successful quarterly
and annual awards submissions - which in turn, help establish a member's
record of sustained high performance.
"The biggest thing we look for is what sets the individual being
nominated for the award above their peers," said Call, who has judged
many award packages during his 26-year Air Force career. "When we see
things like 'pursuing education' or 'completed CCAF degree' or 'pursuing
a bachelor's degree,' those really give them high marks."
Call said it's not as important to focus on finishing a degree quickly.
"In my personal opinion, keeping consistent all the time, keeping in
that mindset just keeps you on your toes and more valuable to the
mission," he said. "My mindset when I was coming up was to show
continued education throughout my whole career, not that I was doing
four classes at one time to get it done in a year and then not doing
anything else for the next ten years."
Call also mentioned that college and PME are not the only ways to stay well informed.
"Don't always wait for information to be fed to you," Call said. "Read
books on leadership and management. We've had a lot of great leaders
that have come before us that have documented their experiences and
there is a lot that can be learned or garnered from all that. We call it
There are many educational benefits available to Airmen, including
tuition assistance and the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. For more information,
contact your local education center (552-9643 or 552-9647 on
JBER-Elmendorf) or access the Virtual Education Center on the Air Force
Portal at www.my.af.mil .