Ever since the announcement of the United States Space Force (USSF), there have been many contemplating the types of military careers that could happen as a result of having a new branch of military service.
Now that USSF has become a reality, the interest in the new military branch is high enough to warrant a parody of the agency by way of Steve Carrell and the Netflix original series Space Force. And then there are the job seekers wanting to know what kind of military career could be had by joining?
Joining Space Force As A Civilian Or Federal Employee
The first hurdle for many to overcome is the decision of whether to try to join Space Force as a military member or civilian. Civilian federal jobs, especially where tech industry-type gigs are concerned, have strict qualification and educational requirements.
Those who are interested in civilian jobs with USSF should visit the United States government’s official job website, USAJobs.gov and search for jobs with the keywords United States Space Force or United States Space Forces. The plural of “Space Force” is what shows up on the official site’s search bar when it autofills as you type the search term.
An Air Force Magazine article from early 2020 reminds potential applicants that “anyone in the Defense Department, not just Air Force personnel” may apply for Space Force opportunities. Those who apply must be ready for a minimum two-year commitment to the agency, though certain exceptions may be possible.
Looking at USAJobs and other job boards may or may not return job openings–Space Force may go through several rounds of hiring and training during the initial years of its’ existence. In cases where job boards show no results, it may also be a good idea to talk to an Assignments Manager, or Personnel office staff member, or HR rep to learn if there are planned openings coming soon that haven’t been formally posted yet.
Joining Space Force As A Military Member
There are two ways you can join Space Force as a military member: those who have already passed Basic Training and are in Air Force careers may transfer into Space Force depending on time in grade, time in service, Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) and other variables.
Not everyone serving is allowed to transfer and all transfers require the cooperation and approval of Air Force, USSF, and the DoD.
We’ll cover relevant transfer issues below, but there is also the question of whether new recruits may opt into the Space Force instead of joining the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, etc. Officially, in May 2020 USSF released its first recruiting video on social media with a link that instructs those interested to click through to what presumably is the Space Force recruiting website.
When a potential new USSF recruit does so, they are directed to a splash page for the United States Air Force listing potential careers, and that list of jobs does include space.
But those looking for a standalone USSF site where you can specifically opt to join Space Force (as opposed to joining the United States Air Force in a space-centric job specialty) may find more frustration than answers at the time of this writing. Why?
Space Force Is Still New
At press time, the United States Space Force is still too new to have fully independent recruiting and retention operations. In spite of the recruiting messages, USSF has not fully come into its own as a branch of military service.
The Air Force, USSF, and the Department of Defense are in a transition mode with the new branch and it’s likely that no one wants to dampen enthusiasm for the new opportunities in space even while dealing with a lack of infrastructure to recruit, train, and retain new Space Force candidates independently.
Who Gets A Space Force Career?
Early job opportunities in Space Force come to those who enlist or are commissioned in certain Air Force Specialties (more on that below) and to those who are already in uniform working in certain critical career fields.
The United States Air Force published a list of Frequently Asked Questions about transferring into Space Force, which includes mention of a May 1, 2020 notification for “all officers and enlisted personnel who are eligible to apply for transfer.” But those who became eligible after May 1, 2020 may need to check with their command support staff, First Sergeant, Command Sergeant Major, Detailer, or Personnel office to learn what is required, deadlines, etc.
All interested in Space Force vacancies should make sure their records are updated with the most recent contact information in vMPF, the Virtual Military Personnel Flight. Applications are accepted via the Air Force portal MyPers.
Space Force Careers For Officers And Enlisted
The list of Space Force careers for officers and enlisted members keeps growing; the list you see today may be much longer in a month or two depending on mission requirements. Space Force careers for officers requires commissioning, attendance at Officer Candidate School, technical training, and on-the-job training. Passing a security clearance screening and the ability to keep/maintain the appropriate clearance are required.
Enlisted members are required to pass technical training, on-the-job training, professional military education, and be able to obtain security clearances relevant to the position. Enlisted troops and officers alike must fall into one of two job specialty categories: “organic” AFSCs specifically related to Space Force operations, and “common” AFSCs. A third category is recognized–career fields that are “organic” to both Air Force and Space Force.
Space Force Careers For Officers
- Acquisition Manager
- Intelligence Officer
- Developmental Engineer
- Space Operations Officer
- Nuclear and Missile Operations Officer
- Munitions And Missile Maintenance Officer
Space Force Jobs For Enlisted
- Missile and Space Facilities (that is how the job is listed on the Air Force recruiting official site)
- Space Systems Operations
- Cyber Systems Operations
- Cyber Surety
- Knowledge Operations Management
- Fusion Analyst
- Missile and Space Systems Electronic Maintenance
- Missile and Space Systems Maintenance (different than Electronic Maintenance)
Issues You Should Know When Transferring Into Space Force
Those with “common” AFSCs (see above) will be reviewed by a transfer board made up of senior Air Force leaders from both the Air Force and USSF as well as “a senior member from the common AFSC.”
Air Force members who requested a voluntary date of separation from the service may be suspended or removed, “contingent upon your entry into the Space Force.” This is a rule that does not apply in cases where there is an involuntary date of separation.
Other troops from other branches of military service (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, etc.) may not find much information about transfer eligibility in the earliest days of the USSF, but official sources note there are plans to accept transfers from other branches as early as 2022.
Space Force officials will evaluate the earliest rounds of transfers and other recruitment efforts and decide on further procedures following that review, which remains unscheduled at press time.
And finally, the Air Force notes a difference between being “assigned” to Space Force and being transferred to it. The Air Force official site indicates there IS a difference, primarily being associated with status.
According to AF.mil, “An “assigned” individual is a person who is in the Air Force or other Service and performs work in support of the U.S. Space Force.” Transfers happen when there is an “enlistment contract for the Space Force” or a commission for same in the case of officers who are appointed to USSF.
Some jobs are considered “organic” to Space Force and may result in the need for a choice by the service member–those who do not wish to join USSF are offered the option to retrain into a different Air Force career, retire, or separate from military service as is appropriate.
Certain Air Force Specialty Codes that are considered organic to Space Force will be removed from the Air Force job inventory in favor of those careers being exclusively linked with USSF.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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