[Enlisting in] the Air Force after just graduating

What would life be like for a college graduate that just graduated with his BA in Accounting and then decided to enlist in the Air Force? I’ve heard all kinds of various information, thus my decision to turn here. Just because my degree is in accounting, does that mean I’ll get to use it or will my MOS be determined by the ASVAB score and their needs? Before I turn to a recruiter, thank you for helping me answer these questions.

*It should have read enlisting…I’m sorry for the typo.

Is there any particular reason why you wouldn’t want to be an officer instead? (Not that there would be a problem with enlisting; lots of college grads enlist for one reason or another.)

Pretty much the same as everyone else’s, with the exception of maybe some minor perks of being automatically promoted to E-3 (A1C) after Basic Training because of your college credits.

No, you won’t necessarily get to use it. It may help you get into a certain career field, but as you guessed, the Air Force’s needs come first. I knew plenty of college graduates that enlisted into different career fields.

MOS is Army and Marine lingo. The Air Force equivelant is AFSC “Air Force Specialty Code.”

You can enlist with what they call a “guaranteed contract.” That is, you take the ASVAB, you select a job that your score qualifies you for (in your case, it looks like there’s a few 6F career fields for accounting/finance), and you’re guaranteed to be placed into that school upon completing basic. If you do your 7 weeks and they decide they don’t really have any openings in that career field, you’re allowed to bail.

Most people do this. The alternative is to come in open general, which means they pick something for you after basic, and yes, they’ll ignore your BA and make you a cop or something.

The guaranteed contract is good for a single enlistment – if the AF ever tells you they need to train into a different career field, you can tell them to shove it and they’ll just force you to separate when your enlistment is up. However, once you’re in, they CAN tell you that they don’t need accountants at the moment, and, oh, hey, we need someone to drive trucks in Afghanistan, and you don’t seem to be doing much, so pack your shit and here’s your kevlar. It’s rare, but before you enlist you really need to understand that everyone can deploy, and non-deployable positions are getting axed left and right. You may or may not be accounting in the desert either… they have a lot of generic jobs that they need generic people to fill.

I was 3 years into a computer engineering degree when I dropped out and enlisted. It was the best decision I had ever made, so I don’t want to talk you out of it, but I went from a rather advanced software engineering program to a “computer programmer” career field where my first job involved low-level help desk tasks. Expect to be placed on the front lines in the finance office helping people sort out pay problems and other menial paper pushing tasks. While having 2 years of college will let you come in as an E-3, your degree won’t get you any special treatment or increased responsibility, and I ain’t gonna lie, the officer/enlisted disparity kinda sucks.

The work won’t be great, but you’ll get hands-on experience with DoD accounting rules and methods, so after you do your 4 years you’ll be much more marketable to a defense/government contractor and/or a civil service job. In this job market, 4 years experience is a pretty big deal, and there are worse ways to get it than serving your country.

Let me know if you have any specific questions that I didn’t address.

I don’t think the accounting degree would hurt you in any of ther services. However, the Air Force and Navy, given the choice, would prefer a technology/science education. The Marines are looking for personal leadership qualities and your degree won’t help or hurt you. Can’t say for sure about the Army, but an educated guess is that it doesn’t make much difference as it’s such a large organization.

With a degree, it would be a shame not to attend OCS. Being a former Marine, I’ll tell you no other service will instill a sense of pride as the Corps will do. However, if you want to the opportunity to see far away places, the Navy would be the place to go. If you like Texas, you’ll like the Air Force.

Thank you all for your help. Steronz, I do have a specific question for you. From what I’m seeing on the AF website. there are officer careers listed for college graduates. With that being said, I found one in cost analysis that I would be most interested in. Could I do the contract option that you were talking about, or is there a totally different process for this program?

sorry for the duplicate post

Depends what you want to do - my guess is that the materiel command or supply corps or whatever that particular branch calls it will not turn down someone with accounting skills.

You could start out as enlisted and then after a few years apply for OCS. The Air Force requires all officers to have a degree , some enlisted guys get a degree while serving and then apply to OCS. Some guys do a stint as enlisted and get out so they can get a degree and then go back in to OCS.

rmcgrad09 - Officer recruiting is an entirely different beast, with an element of black magic that I still don’t understand. Basically, it breaks down like this. The AF comes up with a list of needs for the year – we need to recruit xx officers with this basic career breakdown – yy pilots, zz contracting officers, etc. The AF Academy comes first – those guys are getting groomed for high-level positions from day 1, and they get priority. ROTC comes next, since we paid for them to go to college and all.

Now, generally speaking, they’ll undershoot the number of ROTC people they need… better to have too few people at this point than too many. Plus it gives them wiggle room. After assigning all the academy grads and ROTC folks, they look at what they have left and fill those positions with Officer Training School (OTS) seats. OTS is a mix of guys off the street (i.e., you) and prior enlisted folks. Prior enlisted guys might have a slight edge, but not enough to justify enlisting first IMO.

Anyway, throw out pilots and navigators because those positions are treated differently. Everything else, they pick people with degrees that roughly match what they’re looking for. So if they need 50 logistics officers, 25 contracting officers, and 15 materiel guys, they might round up 90 folks with generic business type degrees – economics, finance, accounting, whatever. Those guys get to make a list of the career fields they’d like from whatever’s available, and then they get assigned based on the needs of the AF. You might get something related to accounting, but I wouldn’t bet on it. In fact, I’d plan on getting something else.

Not sure if that’s clear or not. Basically, you need to go talk to an officer recruiter to find out when the next class starts and what they’re looking for. They generally do OTS boards twice a year, and it’ll take several months prior to the board to submit an application, and several months after before you’re finally give a class date if you’re accepted. So step 1 is to figure out the timeline. Step 2 is to figure out what sorts of careers they need for that class – it’s always a grab back, 1 class they might need a whole bunch of tech guys, the next class they might need none.

I know several guys who enlisted with degrees, and they did it for various reasons. Some didn’t want to wait up to 8 months for the OTS process to work itself out, others were told that OTS wasn’t accepting many people for their career so they should go in enlisted and then make the switch. Personally, I wouldn’t enlist until after you’ve given OTS a serious shot.

Shoot, if your interest is cost analysis, then the DOD is about to start a significant hiring in the acquisition workforce. (About to start means within the next several months to years.)

You’d likely be in a good position to apply and be selected for a civilian position in any of the services or in one of the Under Secretary’s offices (either Comptroller or Acquisition, Technology & Logistics).

If you don’t have your heart set on serving in uniform, you may want to check with your college’s employment office or local job fairs. You can also do searches on USAjobs.gov.