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What is the Air National Guard? Here’s the scoop before you sign

If you’re thinking about an Air Force career, you’ve likely heard of the Air National …

Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, director of the Air National Guard, administers the oath of enlistment to 15 members of the Kentucky Air National Guard on the 2nd Street Bridge in Louisville, Ky., April 12, 2014. The event kicked off Thunder Over Louisville, the city’s annual air show and fireworks display over the Ohio River. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

If you’re thinking about an Air Force career, you’ve likely heard of the Air National Guard — also known as Air Guard. 

So, what is the Air National Guard? 

It’s really the perfect fit for anyone who has an interest in military life but isn’t sure they want to join full-time. It’s a part-time role with full-time responsibility to country and service.

Basically, it means you can have the perfect combination of military and civilian life. The Air National Guard is a part of the United States Air Force that takes its participation as seriously as any full-time military role. 

Want more Air National Guard information? 

Read on to learn what it’s about, who can serve, and the full benefits you receive — paycheck included.

What is the Air National Guard?

air guard members moving aircraft
Photo by Staff Sgt. Jon Alderman

The Air Guard participates in both federal and state missions, which allows members to serve their local community in addition to their country. 

During local or regional disasters — like a hurricane or tornado — Air Guard members are activated to protect locals.

Additionally, the Air Guard can be called by the President to unite with the Air Force active-duty members to serve for a global crisis. 

This particular area of service is ideal if you want the experience of serving your country while also fulfilling a rewarding civilian career path. You still get certain military benefits with the biggest benefit of still spending time with your loved ones more than you would if you were full-time active duty. 

Eligibility Requirements 

In order to be eligible, physical requirements must be met. A recruiter will meet with you to discuss and measure your weight and height to make sure you’re within the guidelines. A medical history evaluation will also be required to make sure you’re healthy. 

Requirements include: 

  • Must be between ages 17 to 39
  • Be in good standing with the law
  • Meet the education requirements
  • Take the ASVAB exam

You must also be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident and have a high school diploma or GED. High school seniors may also be eligible. If you have a bachelor’s degree, you’ll go in as an officer and will have a four-year initial contract.

What Does Air Guard Daily Life Look Like?

air guard moving T-33
U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jon Alderman

As an Air National Guard member, you’re considered a reserve component of the Air Force. While you’re a part of the military, you also get to maintain a civilian life, too. 

Once a month, you’ll be required to attend drill sessions. Two weeks every year, you’re also called to active duty training. This training is typically close to your hometown, so it means there’s little disruption to your private life.  

But, it’s important to note the Air Guard is required to be able to respond to local and world crises within 48 hours.

Missions include: 

  • Flying
  • Ground support 
  • Special operations
  • Unique missions
  • Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR)

What Career Options Do Air Guardsmen Have?

air guard moves snow
Photo by Tech. Sgt. John Winn

As an Air Guard member, you’ll have access to over 200 career options. If you don’t love your career pick, you can always switch later. To name a few, here are some Air National Guard career choices: 

  • Orthopedic Surgeon 
  • Public Health Officer
  • Munitions Systems Specialist 
  • Bioenvironmental Engineering Specialist
  • Remotely Piloted Aircraft Maintenance Specialist
  • Low Observable Aircraft Structural Maintenance Specialist

Check out more Air National Guard careers here.

What are the Benefits of Joining the Air National Guard?

american flag offset
Courtesy of Unsplash

Other than receiving a paycheck and the honor of serving your country, Air Guard members also get federal and state benefits. Perhaps the biggest perk is you’re not a full-time member of the service, but you still get to serve your country in a critical position. 

Federal benefits include: 

  • Legal assistance
  • Official library service
  • Re-enlistment bonus
  • Military retirement plan
  • Eligibility for VA home loans
  • Use of military recreation facilities
  • Access to military clothing stores
  • Free-space-available air travel
  • Base Exchange (BX) and commissary privileges

Your local benefits vary state-by-state. Florida, for example, allows Air Guard members to get 100% tuition paid at Florida-funded state colleges and universities. You can also get up to Florida funded school rates for private education. 

Want to Join? Gather Air National Guard Information

black history speaker to Air Guard
Photo by Tech. Sgt. John Winn

While joining the Air National Guard isn’t as big of a time commitment as full-time service, it’s still a military commitment. 

One of the best ways to learn more about joining and the Air National Guard lifestyle is to speak with a recruiter. You can also look for online forums to chat with other Air National Guard members about what it takes to serve in this role.

If you’re a civilian looking to supplement your income while also serving, the Air National Guard is a great option to check those boxes. Just be sure to gather all the facts and Air National Guard information you can before signing on the dotted line.

Did we miss anything for this post describing “What is the Air National Guard?” If you have more questions, let us know in the comments below!

Interested in the Air Force? Check out the Air Force PT Test: Requirements For 2020.

Feature image courtesy of U.S. Air National Guard



The editorial team at Sandboxx.