The Air Force Reserve performs about 20 percent of the overall work of the United States Air Force (USAF). Reservists include officers, enlisted personnel, and civilians. Members of all branches of the military may join, even if they have not served in the Air Force, as well as those with no military experience. There is a wide range of jobs and areas of interest. Air Force Reserve jobs can be either full- or part-time, and include aviation, personnel recovery, and intelligence.
A majority of traditional Air Force Reserve jobs are part-time. In this category, reservists typically serve in the area in which they live for one weekend a month. Also, they typically will have temporary duty two weeks a year, although it might not be served in the area in which they live.
Another option is full-time employment — two types of Air Force Reserve jobs fall under this heading: Air Reserve Technicians (ART) and Active Guard Reserve (AGR). ARTs work as civil service employees during the week and hold the same jobs as reservists on the weekends they serve. These full-time positions help to maintain consistency and continuity in the reserve. ARTs make up 15 percent of the force, providing day-to-day leadership and administrative and logistical support. The AGR is a smaller group that consists of individuals with prior military experience who are issued orders to participate on a full-time basis.
Individual Mobilization Augmentees (IMA) are a select group used to supplement active duty units. Most have undergone special training, posses unique skills, and usually have prior active-duty experience. IMAs serve individually and work according to tailored schedules at assigned locations around the world.
Many Air Force Reserve jobs involve or focus on aviation. The Reserve currently utilizes 13 different types of aircraft created to meet a wide range of operational requirements and missions. Two main areas of aviation are airlift and specialized missions.
Airlift refers to the movement of people and equipment around the world. There are two types of airlift: strategic and tactical. Air Force Reserve jobs within strategic airlift involve carrying equipment and troops from a neutral area to an area of operation. Tactical airlift jobs require equipment and troops to be carried from one area to another within theater. In order to perform these missions, teams of pilots, maintenance crews, technicians, and ground operations units are necessary.
Specialized missions unique to the Reserve and not practiced within the Air Force are weather reconnaissance and aerial firefighting. Air Force Reserve jobs within these areas also includes pilots, scientists, technicians, and maintenance personnel. The teams who perform weather reconnaissance are known as hurricane hunters. Hurricane hunters fly directly into storms to record and transmit data that helps to chart paths, project direction, measure intensity, and estimate time of land fall. Aerial firefighting teams combat fires that cannot be contained by local volunteer and civilian firefighters; this function includes spraying fire retardant or dropping large amounts of water on a fire.
A highly specialized area within the Reserve is personnel recovery. Pararescue, or Parajumpers (PJs), is an elite unit that conducts conventional and non-conventional rescues. Typically, this Air Force Reserve job involves rescuing downed air crews that are behind enemy lines. Additionally, PJs work natural disasters and rescues at sea, on mountains, and in deserts. Pararescue has stringent requirements that include long and intense training that can take up to two years.
Intelligence support concentrates on the prevention of attacks and surprises. Responsibilities of Air Force Reserve jobs within this realm include planning or conducting aerospace operations, mapping, charting, developing objectives and requirements, providing guidance, and oversight. Intelligence personnel collect and analyze data and information, taking into account industrial, technological, geographical, and sociological factors. This information is used to support planning, operations, and special missions, and is provided to other services and agencies.