Yes, you can join the U.S. Air Force if you hold a GED®. But you will need to take a few extra steps to be successfully admitted to the Air Force.
It’s no secret that enlisting in the Air Force is competitive. So, getting to know the rules will help you all the way.
First of all, keep in mind that the U.S. military, and also the Air Force, enlists GED graduates as long as they’re meeting specific requirements.
What are these requirements?
In short, you need to gain the status of tier 1 recruit and score really well on the ASVAB. To become a tier 1 recruit, you need to take extra steps.
How do you do that? Let’s take a closer look at how you can become a tier 1 recruit and join the Air Force with a GED.
Applicants holding a high school degree are placed in the tier 1 category, provided they score at least 31% on the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery).
Recently, however, the Army had tossed the mandate for recruits to hold a high school or GED diploma as a response to the ongoing recruiting crisis, but this policy was reversed again.
Tier 2 category
GED graduates are placed in the tier 2 category and need to attain at least 50% on the ASVAB to qualify for the U.S. Air Force.
But every GED diploma holder gains a tier 1 recruit status if he/she earns 15 college credits.
A student can get 15 college credits by attending one semester at a community or trade college.
Another alternative for GED students is attaining a GED College-Ready + Credit score by scoring in the 175-200 range on each GED subtest.
Students with this score receive up to 10 college credits (depending on the school), so then they’ll need to earn fewer extra credits from a college of their choice. So in that sense, a GED is not considered equal to a grade 12. More education is required.
So, GED graduates that complete 15 college credits before they apply to join the ranks have significantly better chances of making it into the Army, also into the Air Force.
So again, GED graduates that additionally earn at least 15 college credit hours fall into the tier 1 category.
If there’s an open position, tier 1 applicants will be selected first, whereas candidates in the tier 2 category can apply for an open position that is left. So yes, a GED will get you into college and might get you into the Air Force, but making an extra effort is definitely required.
The U.S. military can only accept up to 10% of all applicants with a GED, and all branches additionally set their own limits, usually less. The reason for this policy is that research has shown that applicants who quit high school prematurely are also more likely to leave the military during their first term in comparison to high school grads.
So you may perfectly well join the Air Force with a GED, but your chances will be significantly increased if you manage to get a high school diploma or a number of college credit hours. When you need a copy of your GED, go to this post that includes all relevant information.
Bear in mind that if you want to enlist in the Air Force with a GED diploma, you must meet stricter requirements and have the patience to wait until a GED slot becomes available, which may take up a year or more. Usually, not even one percent of Air Force enlistees are GED graduates every year.
ASVAB score requirements
To qualify for the Air Force, GED graduates need to be at least 18 years old and have attained a score of at least in the 50-percentile (65-score) on the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery), while high school grads need to attain a score of only in the 31-percentile on the test.
But, as said before, GED holders may get the same qualification as high school graduates if they earn 15 or more college credits.
So when you think about joining the U.S. Air Force, be aware that GED holders must meet more stringent requirements compared to high school grads, and this also applies to other military branches.
So, in conclusion, in the Air Force, less than 1 percent of all annual recruits are GED holders, and they must even pass the ASVAB test with scores higher than high school graduates. Check out this post to see what it takes to qualify for the Army with a GED.
The ASVAB score
Air Force recruiters usually first administer the ASVAB or AFQT to assess a GED graduate’s cognitive skills. This will give the Air Force recruiter a good idea of whether the applicant is mentally fit for service in the Air Force. The ASVAB score is also used to determine for what position the applicant is best suited in the Air Force.
After taking the ASVAB test, a GED applicant may be recommended by the recruiter to enroll in a community college for one semester to complete at least 15 credits which will put the GED holder in the same tier 1 category as high school recruits.
Even when recruits to the U.S. Air Force meet these qualifications, they need to meet a number of physical and legal requirements to be eligible to serve. These include weight and height requirements, grooming standards, age limits, and tattoo policies. See also this post about how to join the Marines with a GED.
The U.S. Air Force Reserve is available to applicants without any prior military experience, current military personnel transitioning from active duty, and former members of a military branch.
Applicants without earlier military service experience must be in the 17 – 39 years of age category, be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, hold a high school or GED diploma with at least 15 college credits, and be in good physical and mental health.
Applicants that meet these requirements will take the ASVAB test at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), where they will be physically and morally screened. Here, their future positions will also be determined. Check here to learn more about how to qualify for the U.S. Coast Guard.
Upon completing all the tests and physicals, all recruits will have to go through an 8-week course of Basic Military Training (BMT) at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas.
After completing the BMT course, recruits may get technical training where they will learn all about their career field and even earn some college credits toward an academic degree.
Maximum enlistment age
A few years ago, the Air Force raised the maximum enlistment age from 27 to 39. This was done to set up a pool of persons with computer programming skills and experience, and the Air Force also wanted more individuals with foreign language expertise.
So though not impossible, it is quite hard for GED graduates to get into the U.S. Air Force. Less than one percent of all annual enlistments are GED holders, and they need to attain at least a 65 score on the AFQT part of the ASVAB.
Working for the U.S. Air Force means so much more than being a pilot. There are actually over one hundred different career areas within the Air Force for which candidates are recruited. Now the age limit has been lifted to 39, many applicants have decided that military service could be their calling, even later in life.
The overall ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) score is also referred to as the AFQT (Air Force or Armed Forces Qualification Test) score.
This score is made up of the results of the subtests that cover math, arithmetic reasoning, word knowledge, and reading comprehension. ASVAB and AFQT are frequently used interchangeably. The minimum AFQT score requirement is often also referred to as the ASVAB score.