Have you thought about joining the military at an older age and thought the time has passed? Some new found hope could be around the corner.

Branches of the military have raised the age limit to accept older recruits.

Each branch sets their own age limit, so you might not get accepted in one branch of service but there’s still a chance in another.

What is the age limit to join the Air Force? The Air Force has the highest age limit of any military service. Maxing out at age 39 for recruits, but there are exceptions for specific job types.

Why Has The Air Force Age Limit Been Raised?

After going through sequestration a number of years ago, many airmen transitioned into the civilian world. The Air Force specifically was decreasing their manning numbers throughout the ranks, as well as taking in less new recruits.

If you didn’t know, the Air Force is already the hardest branch of the military to get in and became even harder.

After low military budgets and airmen deploying more frequently it gave reason for many Air Force airmen to step away from the uniform.

Having fewer airmen began to take it’s toll and the Air Force was suffering from it. Budget increases and new Air Force manning numbers were increased, but it didn’t draw in new recruits.

To combat this age limits have been raised and military restrictions have been lessened as well.

7 Things To Know For Joining The Air Force In Your 30’s

1. What Is The Maximum Age Limit To Join The US Air Force?

If you wanna join the Air Force in your 30’s then you are in luck. Whether your considering active duty Air Force, Air Force Reserves, or Air National Guard, the eligible age limit are 17 to 39 years old.

That sure beats the age limit a few years ending at 27 years old for new recruits. The door is now open for many who previously considered joining the military.

The maximum age to join the Air Force is even increased further for specific job types.

  • General Air Force Age Limit – 39
  • Healthcare Professionals – 48
  • Ministry Professionals – 48
  • Legal Professionals – 48

2. Basic Training Leadership

Most people who join the Air Force are young and fresh out of high school. So if you join the Air Force in your 30’s be prepared to possibly take responsibility for people as a basic training dorm chief or element leader.

Military instructors like to put older trainees in charge of the basic training flight, that’s what I saw during my experience at Lackland Air Force Base.

A dorm chief is someone who deals directly with the military instructor and is responsible for all the trainees. They are placed in charge whenever the instructor isn’t in the dorm bays, and also passes down instructions.

An element leader is in charge of and responsible for a number of trainees in their section of the dorm bay. They also pass down instructions. The element leader reports to the dorm chief and the Air Force instructor.

For each basic training flight there is one dorm chief and four element leaders. So there is a strong possibility for any older trainee to fall into these dorm positions.

If you wanna know what you’re getting yourself into, check out 50 Surprising Facts About Basic Training.

3. Transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill

If your joining the Air Force in your 30’s with a family or are thinking about a family, then this could be very important to you. Airmen are able to transfer their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to their spouse or children.

This is a great way to give children a college education and set them up for the future. The Post-9/11 benefits can be transferred entirely or partially, in case you’d like to distribute them to more then one person.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit offers 36 months of college education as well as a monthly housing allowance to its recipients. In order to transfer your Post-9/11 benefits you’d have to serve 6 years to apply and enlist for 4 additional years.

So this is great if you intent to make a career out of the Air Force and have young children to put through college later. Everything about the eligibility and stipulations can be found here.

4. Air Force Age Limit And PT Testing Standards

Every trainee that goes through basic training are put to the same PT testing standards, there’s no exception for you joining the Air Force in your 30’s.

However, after basic training, your PT tests are on a completely different scale adjusted for individuals age. So any PT test after basic training should seem like a breeze.

Depending on the scores, individual PT tests are performed once or twice a year. Scoring a 90 or above on a regular Pt test means only one test is needed per year. Anything scored under 90 requires you to test again after 6 months.

Just know that with joining the Air Force in your 30’s your runtime and push-up/sit-up minimum amounts are lower after completing basic training.

  • Basic Training Male Minimum Scores: 2 mile run time 16:45, 1.5 mile run time 11:57, 1 minute push-ups 45, 1 minute sit-ups 50
  • Basic Training Female Minimum Scores: 2 mile run time 16:45, 1.5 mile run time 13:56, 1 minute push-ups 27, 1 minute sit-ups 50
  • Regular PT Test Male In 30’s To Pass Scores: Waist 37.5, 1.5 mile run time 13:14, 1 minute push-ups 36, 1 minute sit-ups 42
  • Regular PT Test Female In 30’s To Pass Scores : Waist 34, 1.5 mile run time 15:50, 1 minute push-ups 19, 1 minute sit-ups 33

Keep in mind these regular pt test scores will only pass with a score of 75. I’d recommend surpassing these scores and achieve a 90 if you don’t wanna have pt tests every 6 months.

5. Military Family Issues

If you’re someone deciding to join active duty with a family, just know it’s a challenge.

Active duty airmen could get stationed anywhere, which could easily uproot your current family support system. Grandma won’t be minutes away, however military bases do have on base childcare during certain hours of the day.

Childcare on base isn’t free, it’s just conveniently minutes away from work depending on the base size.

Sometimes Air Force bases can be located near your existing family support. If that’s the case for you and you wanna be stationed there read 4 Ways To Get Stationed At Your Desired Air Force Base.

Joining the Air Force Reserves or the Air Nation Guard with a family has family issues too. Not all Air Force bases are gonna be near where you live. Sometimes it could be a few hours drive to get to base for your one weekend a month and two weeks a year duty.

Being a few hours away means staying in a hotel away from family and missing out on the weekend every month. Birthdays and family events will occasionally be missed, that goes for both active duty and reservists. There is no way around it.

6. Military Housing

Military housing has three different possibilities depending on if you’re married or single.

Being married either means living in base housing or receiving BAH. Base housing typically has cookie-cutter houses with 2 to 3 bedrooms. The nice thing is that you live in them for free without paying rent, utilities, or any of the normal housing bills. This could be a big advantage for some families, but sometimes base housing is full and you receive BAH instead.

BAH is a housing allowance the military gives out in order to pay rent and live off base. Each base offered different BAH amounts depending on the local housing costs. Some people like the freedom of living off base and prefer to receive BAH over base housing. So both options are there for Air Force families.

Entering the Air Force in your 30’s single means you’ll start out in the airman’s dorms on base. Typically a single airman can’t leave the dorms until putting on the rank of Senior Airman (SrA). Once a Senior Airman you’re allowed to receive the BAH housing allowance and move off base.

So being in your 30’s and living in dorms with a bunch of airmen straight out of High School isn’t ideal. Just know there are instances were getting out of the dorms early is possible.

When I first joined the Air Force I lived in the dorms on base for only a year. Still an Airman First Class (A1C) and only 23 years old, I already was receiving the BAH housing allowance. My First Sargent allowed me to move out of the dorms early cause I was deploying and dorm rooms were being renovated. It just made sense to not wait until I was a Senior Airman.

So If you join the Air Force in your 30’s, after getting settled into your first duty assignment, talk to the First Sargent if you wanna leave the dorms early.

7. Air Force Age Limit Policy

The Air Force could change their age restriction at any given moment. Right now the military is in a state of growth and need new recruits to enter basic training and join the ranks.

Despite that you still never know when the age limit could change back to a younger limit. If your heart is set on joining the Air Force in your 30’s, then I’d do it before the age restriction has the change of changing.

Going from a limit of 27 to 39 is a pretty big change. The Air Force is getting it’s strength up to 350,000 airmen by the mid 2020’s and needs about 25,000 airmen in the years to come.

After that who knows what could happen to the age requirements.

To Wrap It Up

There you have it, seven things to consider when thinking about joining the Air Force in your 30’s. The biggest takeaways from this are.

  • the Air Force age limit to join is the highest at 39, and some exceptions up to 48 in specific career fields.
  • Plus the opportunity to pass the Post 9/11 GI Bill to your family is huge!
  • PT testing standards change and reflect your age after basic training.

After knowing all of these seven things which is most useful to you for entering the Air Force in your 30’s?

Corey Porter

Corey Porter

Air Force Veteran

Corey is an Air Force veteran and the lead writer at Basic to Blues. He refueled fighter jets as a young airman and deployed twice to the Middle East. Now Corey can be found hiking in the Pacific Northwest.

Who the hell… POL!

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