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November Shirt Blast

Portrait of U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Perri Peraz, first sergeant assigned to the 169th Medical Group at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Nov. 8, 2020. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder, 169th Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

Portrait of U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Perri Peraz, first sergeant assigned to the 169th Medical Group at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Nov. 8, 2020. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder, 169th Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

One aspect of being in the military that doesn't get much attention is the topic of career progression. As Airmen, we are trained to do our jobs and do them to the best of our ability. But what are the tasks needed to ensure you or your Airmen are ready for the next level of advancement for that career move or rank promotion? There are many things you can do to ensure you and your Airmen are set up for success.

This kind of goes without saying; do your job. When you return from basic and tech school, you are obligated to start your upgrade training. Follow the Career Field Education and Training Plan and start knocking out your tasks to get to the level you need for promotion. This part is pretty simple; work hard and learn and the promotions will come.

Act your rank. The Air Force Enlisted Force Structure spells out the roles and responsibilities of an Airman according to their rank. Separately from your career field, you have responsibilities that correspond to the rank you are wearing. An Airman should master the tasks and responsibilities of their rank before being eligible for the next rank. Promotion is a good thing, but it can be detrimental to the unit if you are promoted into a leadership role before you are ready.

Speaking of leadership, Professional Military Education is a requirement for promotion in the Air Force. Yes, it’s difficult as a traditional guardsman to squeeze that into a busy life, but there is no question the value that comes from the materials learned in Airman Leadership School and the NCO academies. Some Airmen say they will wait for an in-residence school. But at the NCO and SNCO levels, those schools may not become available to you quickly enough. If this is you, I would encourage you to enroll in a distance learning course today. Don’t be the Airman who watches everyone they went to basic with get promoted ahead of them because they wouldn’t take the time to knock out a requirement.

We all know that PT is a yearly requirement, but it is also a requirement for promotion.  Make sure you have a current and passing PT test. 

When you do the work to earn a Community College of the Air Force degree or additional degrees, you put yourself on a track to take Senior Leadership positions. And when competing for those positions, your degree may be the one thing that edges out your competition. 

Additionally, be proactive and ask for advice on what you need to do to get to that next level and then follow through on the advice given. It is disheartening as a leader when we give advice to an Airman—tell them the exact thing they need to get promoted, and they don’t do it. Don't be in your own way and let the promotion be waiting on you. 

Network. This is something that is often overlooked in the Air National Guard. For many, particularly in the NCO and SNCO grades, timely promotions are just not possible within a particular career field or unit. When you network outside of your current work center, you open yourself up to opportunities for promotion in another career field. 

Take advantage of training, seminars, career related classes, and deployment opportunities to help enhance your career knowledge and leadership ability. Particularly in some career fields, you have an obligation to share the deployment burden. It could make the difference between you and someone else in a hiring situation. 

In conclusion, seek out Airmen that have the ability and know-how to help you succeed. Supervisors, First Sergeants, Unit Career Advisors and Unit Training Managers are all able to help you get where you want to be.