We're sorry; no CCAF degree, no promotion

9 February 2013 -- McGhee Tyson ANGB, Tenn. - "It's already required on active duty, and it's required for the Air Force Reserve, and it's almost ready to be a requirement for the Air National Guard," said Command Chief Master Sgt. Steve Payne. "It was a unanimous decision of the Enlisted Field Advisory Council for this issue to move forward with the favorable endorsement of the EFAC to support a CCAF degree for promotion to E-8/E-9."
The concept of The Community College of the Air Force began evolving in 1970 as a means of gaining accreditation and recognition for Air Force training. Air Force visionaries recognized the need to enhance the skills of NCOs as technicians, leaders, and citizens. A series of conferences was held in 1971 to discuss the need for increased development of NCOs as managers of Air Force resources. The conferees recommended the founding of an Air Force community college. The college was established in April 1972.
Today, the program has grown to include more than just NCOs. The program is now open to all currently enlisted personnel, said McGhee Tyson ANGB Formal Training Technician Tech. Sgt. Bertie Wiggins.
"Once somebody separates, retires or gets commissioned, they are no longer eligible for a CCAF degree," said Wiggins.
CCAF graduates receive an Associate of Applied Science degree in their Air Force specialty code career field.
"For a lot of employers and also a lot of agencies, it may count a little bit more than just a regular or general associate's degree or even some bachelor's degrees," said Wiggins. "As an applied science degree, it means you not only have the book knowledge and book smarts, you also have the experience that goes along with it because you've actually done the job that you have your degree in."
Personnel are automatically enrolled in the program after they've complete tech school. To earn a degree, a total of 64 credit hours are required. Certain military requirements, such as having a 5-level in the career field, have to be met along with 15 hours of civilian course work.
There is no limit to the number of CCAF degrees a person can earn.
"CCAF degrees are AFSC specific," said Wiggins. "There is a degree for every career field. Once you're enrolled in that AFSC, and have attended that tech school, that's the CCAF degree you're enrolled in. So if you change career fields while you're in the Air Force, you can get more than one CCAF degree depending upon what your AFSC is."
Just as with any other degree, graduates receive a diploma as proof of their work.
"Diplomas are only cut twice a year, April and October," said Wiggins. "We nominate people for graduation all year round. Once you have been nominated for graduation and have been marked as a graduate, that day becomes your graduation date even though you won't receive your diploma until the next April or October. You can actually put down that you're a graduate on your resume without having received your diploma."
Wiggins said having the CCAF degree can help you with getting promoted just because it's a degree on your resume.
"It shows your employers and your supervisor that you're committed to furthering your education," said Wiggins. "For job knowledge it gives you a hand up because you've been dedicated to completing the other requirements to get your associates degree. I'm a proponent of you can't have too much education."
Statistics show that only 16% of the McGhee Tyson enlisted force have at least one CCAF degree. Payne emphasized the importance of earning your CCAF degree even if you already have other degrees.
"A lot of personnel we find have master's, doctorates, bachelor's or whatever, and just lack one or two things to get that CCAF," said Payne. "It won't be good enough to have a bachelor's, master's, or even a doctorate. They want you to have the CCAF."
"I've got one in security administration and one in human resources management with my 1st Sergeant background," said Payne. "That's on my resume for everything I submit. It's not just for E-8/E-9."
Payne and Wiggins both emphasized the uniqueness of the CCAF program. The Air Force is the only service with such a program.
"It's fully accredited," said Payne. "We're the only service that does that, so take advantage of it. It's the wave of the future. It's coming. If the active duty is doing it and the Air Force Reserve is doing it, and the EFAC, our top enlisted, are saying 'yes, favorable comments from us;' it's coming. Get on yours right now. Start early."
More information about the CCAF program can be found in the Air Force Portal. From the portal's main page, go to the featured links section and click on the box next to Force Development. When the list expands, click on AFVEC-AF Virtual Education Center. Other information can be found on the Internet using a search engine and searching for either Community College of the Air Force or CCAF.