The Air Force has opportunities for about 2,597 airmen — both first-termers and non-commissioned officers — to retrain into 110 different jobs in the next fiscal year.
The Air Force Personnel Center on Thursday provided to Air Force Times a chart of the potential fiscal 2019 retraining opportunities for 1,634 first-term airmen, 730 staff sergeants, 202 technical sergeants and 31 master sergeants.
For first-term airmen, that’s slightly lower than the 1,688 retraining opportunities initially available in fiscal 2017, but higher than the 1,401 first-term retraining slots announced for fiscal 2018. And for NCOs, it’s higher than the 631 NCO retraining slots for 2017, and the 685 slots for NCOs announced for 2018.
Personnel officials stress that these numbers represent a “snapshot” in time that can fluctuate quickly, as needs change throughout the year. For example, by November 2016, the list of retraining slots for all airmen, from first-term through master sergeant, had shrunk to 1,917. A list released in March detailed 814 retraining opportunities for airmen up through E-7 at that point in fiscal 2018.
AFPC also issued a release July 26 announcing the fiscal 2019 NCO Retraining Program, or NCORP, allowing airmen on at least their second enlistment to retrain into specific, undermanned specialties, as long as their current career field is adequately manned.
An airman who wishes to retrain under NCORP must be a staff sergeant or staff sergeant-select through master sergeant with at least a skill level of five in their control AFSC, or a three-level if his current career field doesn’t have a five-level. Staff sergeants also must have fewer than 12 years of active service as of Sept. 30, and technical and master sergeants must have no more than 16 years of service by then.
If the Air Force does not get enough volunteers to retrain, it could move into a “mandatory retraining” phase.
In 2019, one of the jobs that could have the most retraining opportunities is the 1B411 cyber warfare operations career field. That Air Force specialty code now has 125 retraining slots for first-term airmen, as well as 76 for staff sergeants and eight for tech sergeants, for a total of 209. The Air Force has highlighted cyber jobs as one of its top manning priorities.
The 2019 list also details 156 retraining slots for 3F211 education and training career field, including 94 first-term airmen, 56 staff sergeants and six tech sergeants.
There are 124 slots for airmen to retrain into the 1C311 command post career field, 116 slots for the 4N051F aerospace medical service job, specializing in the flight and operational medical technician field, and 115 slots for the 1A111 flight engineer field.
The list also has 108 retraining slots for the 1A911 special missions aviation field, which is gunners for AC-130 gunships. These aerial gunners are some of the most frequently deployed and highly stressed airmen in the Air Force, causing the service to express concern over retention and readiness in the field.
The various 3P011 AFSCs that make up the security forces career field — by far the biggest career field in the Air Force — also have 318 retraining slots for first-term airmen and staff sergeants.
The fiscal 2019 list also includes 181 total retraining slots for the various maintenance-related jobs in the 2A career fields.
It includes 1,657 positions in 57 jobs that are deemed overmanned, from staff to master sergeant, and where airmen need to transfer out of.
Here is the complete list of retraining opportunities.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.