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A Brief Update 

As of 2019, civilians can no longer join as a cyber warfare operator. Many original rules, such as retraining AFSC candidates have changed. Today, the USAF hand selects Airmen from the cyber transport system who show promise in succeeding in CWO – Cyber Warfare Operators. 

Steps to Getting into Cybersecurity 

Unlike the Army, you cannot enter cybersecurity until you have proven yourself as an Airman. If you haven’t enlisted yet, the most you can do is mention your desire to your recruiter. From there, who can be put you on a track that can lead you to a cybersecurity job. However, know that at the end of the day, it’s the Air Force that decides where to place you. Thus, it’s important to keep up the good work on your ASVAB and EDPT and thereafter. 

How to Get Started with Cybersecurity

If you have an interest in technology, but are unsure where to begin, try the following steps to begin your cyber journey: 

Reading: One thing that people take for granted is the power of reading. Here you can learn the latest in the technology, which positions appeal to you, and much more. You can accomplish this through online means such as websites, blogs, and magazines. 

Mentor: Once you have chosen your field of expertise, find a leading expert in the industry. You can do this by contacting civilian companies or by finding specific professionals. Share your story and ask if they can advise you. You never know if someone is willing to help until you ask. 

Certifications: Don’t put it off, begin learning now and obtain a certification. Remember, once you are in the military, your schooling will be intense. Any course you may take will surely give you the needed edge. 

Requirements to Join the Air Force 

In order to get into Air Force cybersecurity, you must meet the following requirements: 

US Air Force Airman in any AFSC or Cyber Transport Systems Pipeline with the ability to succeed as a CWO (Cyber Warfare Operators) Pipeline  

High school diploma or GED with 15 college credits 

Between ages 17 to 39 

Ability to lift 40 pounds 

Previous knowledge of computer operating systems, software applications, protocols, addressing, and hardware 

At least a 60 on EDPT (Electronic Data Processing Test) 

At least a 64 on your ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) 

Eligibility for top secret SCI (Sensitive Compartmented Information) clearance 

8.5 weeks of basic training 

Passing ASVAB and EDPT 

Before you join the Air Force, you will be asked to take two tests. In order to get into cybersecurity, you must score a 64 on your ASVAB and a minimum of 60 on your EDPT.  

The ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) is the first test you will encounter during your recruitment. The purpose is to narrow down the long list of Air Force jobs to see which one will best suited to you and the military. 

EDPT (Electronic Data Processing Test) meanwhile is a more concentrated technical test. It will show your potential as an IT personnel. Learn more about the ASVAB or EDPT now. 

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Tech School 

There are various technical schools you can attend on way to a cyber job. You should know the length of time in each academy varies depending on which job you land. Also, the Air Force breaks downtime in units called “blocks”.  

Dolan Hall: After basic, Dolan Hall is likely the first step you will take. Here you will learn very basic cyber technology information. This includes topics such as how computers function and, since you are in the Air Force, airport-related data. Primarily, you will learn memory-based information. This may be tricky if you are a tech-based person. Know, however, that you are not alone. You will have your classmates to share the hardships with. When you are struggling, try creating a study chatgroup, flashcards, Quizlet, ProProfs, etc. Remember you are in this together! 

Thompson Hall: Thompson Hall is considered a higher educational place compared to Dolan. But, again, your level of learning and amount of time in each hall depends on which job you are slated for. It’s probable that you will learn about encryption, servers, virtual machines – accessing a second computer through your computer. No matter where you end-up, you will most likely dabble in the latter. In fact, most airmen find that they will spend an entire block to virtual machines.  

Workshops: From time to time, you will be pulled out of your block to take a related workshop. Tread carefully here. Some instructors are lenient while others will make you retake the entire block before you can advance to the next level. 

Air Force Cyber Positions 

Each position in the Air Force has an AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code). Inside each code you will note there’s an “x”. This “x” represents an additional number which will tell you which skill level you have. For example, if you are still in training, you may begin with the number 1, if you are experienced, your number might go up to 6 etc. Below is a breakdown of some of the divisions: 

⦿ AFSC 1B4X1: If you enter this division, know that you will be split into two separate jobs: Offensive Cyber Operations (OCO) and Defensive Cyber Operations (DCO) 

⦿ 3D: Cyberspace Support which is broken down as followed: 
        ⦿ 3D0x1: Knowledge Operations Management 

        ⦿ 3D0x2: Cyber Systems Operations or 3D033 Cyber careers field 

        ⦿ 3D0X3: Cyber Surety[17] which includes COMSEC, EMSEC, and COMPUSEC 

        ⦿ 3D190: Cyberspace Support Superintendent which, in 2015, has merged with 3D090  

⦿ 17CX: Cyberspace Operations Commander 

⦿ 17DX: Cyberspace Operations 

⦿ 17SX: Cyberspace Warfare Operations Officer 

⦿ 1B: Cyber Warfare 

⦿ 1B4X1: Cyber Warfare Operations 

Note: Each of these jobs vary. Your day to day will change depending on where you are placed and what your new base specializes in. Some of the popular locations include the Pentagon, Peterson Air Force Base, MacDill Air Force Base, and Lackland Air Force Base.  

Specific Cyber Duties 

Remember, even if you know your position, you will not fully know your duties until you are in your assigned base. But, of course, you are curious. Specific AFSC duties can entail providing core services such as designing, configuring, installing, and managing data for operating systems and server application levels; providing and utilizing IP addresses, domain name server, storage area network and electronic messages; managing and securing public key infrastructures such as PKI technologies; helping users and working with system settings using GPO; creating antivirus software; patching operating systems, and creating surety fixes; creating, testing, and maintaining local restoral and contingency operations; and much more!


Transferring to the US Army 

While you have access to many different cybersecurity jobs in the Air Force, there is no guarantee of getting a job in this field. However, if you enter the Army, the MOS 17C is promised to new recruits as long as they pass their training. If you have not enlisted, consider the Army. If you have however, and can’t make your way to the cybersecurity division, you can ask for a transfer. It’s important to know that this is not an easy task. It can take years to reach your goal. 

The first thing you must do is ask for an early release, with the intent of transferring. Then contact the Army to see if you are needed. The best place to be in is finding that your current division does not need you and the branch you want to transfer to does. Note though, if you are in the Air Force, Army recruiters are legally not permitted to talk to you. Thus, this is a tricky road that can prove frustrating. But, with the right ambition, it is possible.

Learn more about MOS 17C by clicking here. 

Careers After the Military 

Even if you do not obtain your cyber dream job, know that if you are able to secure any position in a similar field and continue to educate yourself in cybersecurity, you can land yourself with a 6 figure salary after finishing your service. 

Also, some Air Force jobs work with civilians. This will present opportunities to secure a job before your service is complete. Thus, keep your eyes peeled for future steps! 


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