The US Air Force has confirmed it will pay substantial bonuses of up to $50,000 to candidates who take on its most dangerous roles.
Major General Ed Thomas, Air Force Recruiting Service commander said in January: “Not two years into a pandemic, and we have warning lights flashing, if we were a company, we would still be in the black, we would still be making a profit, but our profit margins and our available capital, those numbers are trending down right now.”
To fill the shortfall, the service is giving $8,000 to qualified recruits who may join and ship out to training for specific jobs “within five days or less”.
There are 16 career fields that pay bonuses to enlistees in total.
Bonuses range from $3,000 to nearly $10,000 for four-year contracts in industries like munitions assembly and packaging, bomber aircraft maintenance, and radio transmissions repair.
However, the majority of the large bonuses will require a six-year contract and are reserved for occupations that require extensive training or are among the riskiest in the Air Force.
There is a $40,000 bonus available for a career as a survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialist — which involves training airmen how to survive behind enemy lines — and there are two $50,000 bonuses for special warfare operators and bomb technicians, two of the most dangerous jobs in the service.
Thomas said: “As we roll up our sleeves in the battle for talent, we’ve got to remain competitive as we go after our next generation of Airmen”. “While we’ve got an unmatched value proposition, we also have a record-high level of competition for America’s best and brightest.”
While the pandemic made it more difficult for the military services to attract new members, a recent Rand Corp research found that the Army, Navy, and Air Force all managed to increase the number of troops in their ranks in 2020 compared to the previous year.
In addition, the Air Force announced in 2021 that it had met its recruiting goals for the first time in five years.
The increase was due, in part, to all three branches urging service members — especially those in medical fields — to delay retirements during the pandemic. They also welcomed back recently separated active-duty personnel.
The Army started offering up to $50,000 in January, though its website notes that a recruit would need to combine several bonuses on offer for “shipping out quickly, having in-demand skills or following certain career paths” to hit that top figure.
Just last week, the Navy proclaimed that it was offering a $25,000 signing bonus to recruits for any rate as long as they are willing to ship off to boot camp before this summer