Joining the Air Force is more than simply completing basic training. After graduation from the USAF's Basic Military Training (BMT) at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, newly graduated airmen move on to technical school to become functional members of the "real" Air Force. Known colloquially as "tech" school, this portion of training can vary widely in length and location and is required of all airmen upon graduation from BMT.
While BMT lays the ground work for newly trained airmen and helps them get accustomed to Air Force life, tech school serves a more functional purpose. Upon graduation from basic training, airmen attend tech school to learn their new military-specific trades and prepare to make a day-to-day impact in the service. Depending on a new airman's career these schools can vary in scope and complexity and, as such, so can their lengths and difficulties.
Shorter Tech Schools
Some careers in the Air Force either don't require much specific training beyond BMT or are better suited to on-the-job learning. Tech schools for these careers are generally short--no more than a few weeks--and represent more of a pit stop en route to an airman's first real assignment. Airmen entering into field such as pest management, personnel or postal work, for example, attend tech school for just one month before moving on to their first duty station.
Longer Tech Schools
Other jobs are much more complex or specialized and require a great deal of training. Tech school for these careers is much more in depth and lengthy and, in some cases, can last up to a year or two. This includes jobs like pararescue, which has a technical school that lasts a year and three months, or airborne cryptologic linguists, who can be in tech school anywhere from eight months to just short of two years.
Airmen should ask their recruiters how long technical school for their specific career will last prior to attending BMT in order to appropriately plan for the first part of their service commitment. Those with families, for instance, may need to plan to move to where their specific tech school is stationed if they plan on being there for close to a year. In other cases, when tech schools are shorter and less in-depth, airmen could just simply head to tech school for a brief stint while planning to relocation to their future first assignment. In any case, airmen should know the length and location of their specific tech schools in order to ensure the first portion of their careers go smoothly and without hindrance.