United States Air Force: 4 year vs 6 year contract

4 vs 6 year contracts in the Air Force

Are you looking into joining the Air Force but not sure how long of a contract you want to serve? As most of you may know, there are 2 options when joining active duty. 4 year contracts or 6 year contracts. Thankfully I put together this blog post to help ease your mind about the decision and making it easier for you to decide what contract to do for yourself in the United States Air Force. 

The first thing you need to do is to find out what rank you are going to be joining the Air Force as. You only need to meet only ONE of the qualifications listed for advanced pay-grade. If you don't meet any of the requirements that's okay! you'll still be able to join as an E-1. 

 

You will be joining the Air Force as an E-2 if you meet ONE of these requirements:

-Has completed two or more years of Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) and has a certificate or statement on official letterhead from a JROTC unit commander at the high school attended stating satisfactory completion.
-Has completed two or more years of college Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and has a certificate or statement on official letterhead from the professor of aerospace science (PAS) at the college attended, stating satisfactory completion.
-Was awarded the Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout Award or Girl Scouts of the USA Gold Award and presents the respective award certificate.
-Was credited with over 90 days active duty service and was last separated in a pay grade of E-2 or higher.
-Is a former service academy cadet with over 90 days as a cadet corps member.
-Has satisfactorily completed 20 semester hours or 30 quarter hours of credit from an accredited, degree-granting institution listed in the applicable AIPE* directory for last year attended.

 

You will be joining the Air Force as an E-3 if you meet ONE of these requirements:

-Was credited with more than 12 months of active duty service and last separated in a pay grade of E-3 or higher
-Was awarded the Billy Mitchell, Amelia Earhart, or Carl Spaatz award or has a letter from CAP/AF/TTHE, Maxwell AFB AL, certifying successful completion of award requirements
-Has completed at least a 3-year JROTC program and has a certificate or statement on official letterhead from a JROTC unit commander stating satisfactory completion. (Must present the certificate or statement before EAD date.)
-Has satisfactorily completed 45 semester hours or 67 quarter hours of credit from an accredited, degree-granting institution listed in the applicable AIPE directory for last year attended.
-Is an ARC member who qualifies and enlists for 6 years

These statements are taken from AFI 36-2001 (http://static.e-publishing.af.mil/production/1/afrs/publication/afrsi36-2001/afrsi36-2001.pdf) Pages 54-55.


Now that you know what rank you will be joining as you're one step closer to deciding whether you should do a 4 or 6 year contract. But first we also need to discuss signing bonuses for jobs. This might also have a say on whether you consider the 4 or 6 year contract. Currently bonuses are only offered to those who sign a 6 year contract in specific jobs. But keep in mind some jobs don't even let you have an option between a 4 and 6 year contract. Some jobs require a 6 year contract no matter what. But first. Lets discuss bonuses. 

Recently the Air Force released a new list of jobs with bonuses. The following photos are of the new enlistment bonus memo that became effective April 1, 2016.

 

Other then special forces and a few other technical jobs. Maintenance is the only career field you'll be able to get a $2,000 signing bonus if you sign 6 years instead of 4. So if you aren't interested in Maintenance and the $2,000 doesn't convince you to do a 6 year contract That's okay, there is more. If you're still unsure between a 4 year and 6 year contract I have one last thing to help you decide. 


Pay difference between a 4 year contract and a 6 year contract

This is most likely the biggest factor people have when deciding between the 4 and 6 year commitment. Thankfully I have made 3 videos comparing the contracts based off of what rank you are joining as. So using what rank you would be joining the Air Force as, you can check out the video that pertains to your situation:

 

Joining as an E-1

4 year contracts vs 6 year contracts in the Air Force. Want to know the difference? Well I explain the differences of a 4 year contract vs 6 year contract in the Air Force in this video!

Joining as an E-2

4 year contracts vs 6 year contracts in the Air Force. Want to know the difference? Well I explain the differences of a 4 year contract vs 6 year contract in the Air Force in this video!

 

Joining as an E-3

4 year contracts vs 6 year contracts in the Air Force. Want to know the difference? Well I explain the differences of a 4 year contract vs 6 year contract in the Air Force in this video!

 

 

I hope this article helped you guys make a better educated decision about joining the Air Force and what contract works best for you. Give this article a like and leave a comment if you appreciate these blog posts and want me to do more! Thank you all for your patience and support!

-Kyle Gott