Kick-start your professional development

studio, development

Chief Master Sgt. Patricia Ford, superintendent, 50th Network Operations Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christopher DeWitt)


It’s the New Year and it’s a good time to assess how you have been professionally developing yourself. Is there a gap in you or your subordinate’s professional development?  What do you want to accomplish this year to make yourself a better professional?

Professional development is the responsibility of every Airman - military or civilian. There are many possibilities to help you develop professionally. 

I’m not talking about a degree like the Community College of the Air Force or a bachelor’s degree, but other opportunities that enhance or build-on a skill you already have. Or, start a new skill you’ve always been interested in doing, but didn’t know how to get started. 

If you’re feeling stagnant in your development and unsure of the opportunities available to you, seek out the career assistance advisor, civilian personnel office, or talk to your supervisor. You can always log onto various websites available on the Air Force Portal.

Sometimes, it’s hard to pull together all the available resources to help narrow down the options that will enhance your skills or push you to learn a new skill. 

Below is a list of some of those training opportunities:

1.    Air Force e-Learning

2.    Professional Manager’s Certification

3.    Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education I and II courses

4.    Federal Virtual Training

5.    Books24X7 resources

6.    Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-Line

7.    Defense Technical Information Center

8.    Defense Acquisition University

9.    Defense Travel Management Office

Training is not the only way to develop oneself.  Other opportunities are available to help you expand your knowledge and skills regarding the Air Force, the wing or untapped talents. 

Stretch yourself into one of the below areas to find out how much you can really accomplish with a little dedication to your development.

1.    Get involved in a private organization (i.e. Airman’s Council, 5/6 Council, Top 3, non-commissioned officer’s association, etc.)

2.    Lead a squadron, group or wing-level event (i.e. squadron picnic, Change of Command, awards ceremony, etc.)

3.    Conduct personal research on an issue or new program that will benefit your organization or work center.

4.    Volunteer to brief at established programs like First Term Airmen Center and non-commissioned officer, senior non-commissioned officer and company grade officer professional enhancement courses.

5.    Attend a speed mentoring session, the next chief’s mentoring for senior non-commissioned officers is 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. March 2 at the DISH.

6.    Attend a space or cyber conference.

7.    Read from the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force reading list.

8.    Attend a Profession of Arms Center of Excellence course or visit their website here for tools to use.

9.    Order free books from the Air University Press Bookstore or read an online paper by visiting their website here. AU press publications are available at no cost to active duty, total force, retired military and Department of Defense personnel and organizations.

10.  Pick up a copy and read the Air and Space Journal or visit their website here.

There are countless ways to improve your professional development; you have to seek them out. You must be self-motivated, because no one is going to do the work for you.

The Air Force gives you tools that can be utilized by both military and civilians. When it’s time to move on from the Department of Defense, you can carry these skills to your next job. The training and opportunities you obtain can help fill-in award packages, performance reports and resumes, but most of all, the tools challenge you to become a better person and Airman.

There are always professional development opportunities that come with a dollar figure. But the ones I’ve listed for you won’t dip into your wallet.  You have to be willing to dedicate time and effort, then reap the benefits knowing you’ve expanded your skills and to help the Air Force, your members and your career. 

In 2018, challenge yourself to learn something every day, week, or month. Don’t pass up the opportunities the Air Force gives. Take an active role in your and your Airmen’s professional development.