AF COOL: Certified, Professional Airmen

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Here I am, a new Airman who has recently become acquainted to the surrounding area and the mission of his first base. I’m excited and honored to serve in the Air Force and anticipating the great opportunities that will arise for me to advance in my career and personal goals.

One thing that was mentioned to me throughout basic military training and technical school was that I always needed to be aware of the opportunities that the Air Force provides, because while the Air Force makes a lot of benefits available to its Airmen, many are not aware of them.

Educational advancement and professional development are among those opportunities available to Airmen. Most, if not all, Airmen are aware of the Montgomery GI Bill, the Post 9/11 Bill, and tuition assistance options, which can be used to continue your own education or even your spouse’s or dependents’.

It is evident the Air Force values education. I have witnessed the Air Force’s initiative to provide quality education in my first year of service simply by the amount of resources have been directed toward building, revising and maintaining the curriculums for basic military training, technical schools and career development courses.

The new generation of Airmen I am a part of is a different group than those before us. We have earned college degrees before enlisting or during our first enlistment, we are technologically inclined, and we are shaping the Air Force in a new way with innovative ideas. I earned my Bachelor’s degree before joining the Air Force, but like many other Airmen, I’m looking forward to the next degree and other ways to further myself in terms of professional expertise.

Looking further into the ways I can progress and get the most out of my career, I learned Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-Line exists, and I don’t necessarily need to be in a classroom, whether virtually or actually, to earn accredited certifications and licenses.
By simply continuing to perform the duties assigned to my Air Force Specialty Code and testing on the material or providing a package of my work as a photojournalist, I can apply for and potentially earn up-to-date industry-recognized credentials. Those credentials certify my work experience tangibly and provide support to my resumé should I look for employment after choosing to separate or retire from the Air Force, of course only if maintained and renewed.

Not only are these credentialing opportunities available to each AFSC, but they are specific to each AFSC so that anyone can continue to progress in their professional and technical adeptness in relation to their current job.

It is clear the Air Force is concerned with setting up those who serve with the tools needed to succeed in career and professional progression.

It is important to take advantage of benefits like this for reasons like cost, certified proficiency and civilian sector competitiveness.
The certifications and licenses available can range in cost from hundreds to thousands of dollars. As an Airman, those costs can be covered through the tuition assistance provided. So in those instances when the workplace provides learning opportunities it is possible to receive certification for experience instead of attending classes and using tuition assistance in only one way.

Having these certifications is proof of proficiency, but not just for one person. It is a testament to the proficiency of the shop, the unit, the wing and beyond.

Not only does the value of having credentialed expertise prove itself in the military, but also in the civilian sector. Along with serving the country and protecting freedom for United States’ citizens, these credentials attest to the fact Airmen are valuable assets with extensive and certified skill sets.

I encourage all Airmen to research AF COOL themselves using the link provided on the AF portal and take the advantage of the opportunity to advance themselves professionally with credentialing their job experience and knowledge through AF COOL.