The Air Force wants 1,688 airmen in their first enlistment to retrain into 74 high-demand jobs in fiscal 2017 -- and multiple maintenance career fields are newly added to the list.
The Air Force announced the new First Term Airman Retraining Program quotas in a Monday release, and provided the list of eligible Air Force specialty codes Thursday at Air Force Times' request.
The list of retraining opportunities includes such crucial career fields as 1T2X1 pararescue, 1A8X1 airborne cryptologic language analyst, 1C2X1 combat control, 1U0X1 remotely piloted aircraft sensor operator and 1W0X2 special operations weather.
There are also multiple maintenance and intelligence career fields on the list. Many of the eligible career fields have been stretched in recent years by heavy operations tempos in missions such as the wars in Afghanistan and against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
"The First Term Airman Retraining Program allows first-term airmen, including staff sergeants who are in their first enlistment, to retrain in conjunction with a re-enlistment," Master Sgt. Kris Reece, the Air Force Personnel Center's retraining policy and procedures superintendent, said in the release. "This is a great opportunity for airmen to pursue a different career field while enabling the Air Force to maintain a healthy balance in all enlisted career fields."
The number of retraining opportunities is far greater and broader than last year, when the Air Force had 1,187 openings in 46 career fields for first-term airmen. Retraining opportunities that weren't available last year for first-term airmen include 1A0X1 in-flight refueling, 1N7X1 human intelligence specialist, and 1U0X1 sensor ops.
But the biggest change is the addition of multiple maintenance career fields. Air Force officials have repeatedly sounded the alarm over its maintenance airmen, and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein recently said the service is short about 4,000 maintainers. The new retraining list is the Air Force's latest effort to shore up those career fields.
The Air Force also said that for the first time this year, airmen who are interested in retraining can use an online Air Force Work Interest Navigator tool on the internal myPers page. This tool is designed to help airmen figure out what career fields they might be interested in by having them answer a series of questions.
"The [online] AF-WIN tool creates a customized job-interest report from your responses and compares your interests to all entry-level" career fields, Reece said in the release. "You'll still want to visit the enlisted retraining advisory, however, because AF-WIN doesn't tell you if that career field is available or if you're eligible."
The Air Force will also release a similar list of retraining opportunities for non-commissioned officers.
The list of retraining opportunities can be found here.
Stephen Losey covers leadership and personnel issues as the senior reporter for Air Force Times. He comes from an Air Force family, and his investigative reports have won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover Air Force operations against the Islamic State.