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Physics Physics Degree and the Air Force?

  1. Mar 1, 2017 #1
    Currently I am an undergraduate physics and mathematics double major. I am looking into the air force after graduation because I heard there are a lot of opportunities for people with STEM degrees but I have no idea what kind of opportunities are available for my degree paths. Joining the Air Force has a lot of appeal for me because I want to be challenged and be a part of something larger than myself. I realized before my junior year that this might be what I want to do which is why I didn't do AFROTC or anything like that.

    I have looked into the navy nuke program and I don't really want to be crammed into a submarine. My interests mainly involve applied research but I am willing to compromise. I understand that the needs of the air force come before my own and that nobody can really pin point what opportunities will be available at a given point since they're always changing.

    Before I apply to OTS my GPA will be above a 3.4 and I will graduate with honors. I have a summer internship at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory developing electronic propulsion technology, I've worked for two different high energy physics research groups and have volunteer/ leadership experience (clean academic and legal record, US citizen, nothing that disqualifies me). Plus tons of programming experience.

    I heard that it is hard to be selected as a 61D (physicist/ nuclear engineer) from what I've head. Would my GPA too low? Is there anyone that can give me insight as to what may lie ahead. I just want to have some idea before I go all in.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 3, 2017 #2


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    A few notes:

    1. Navy Nuke program also has career paths outside of being on a sub or aircraft carrier. A friend of mine did emergency planning for nuclear spillage for the Navy.
    2. OTS is a mix bag. Like most direct commission programs, your choice is literally the least important thing to the service.
    3. Out of all the services, Air Force OTS (and perhaps Marine OCS) are among the hardest to get into. I''m not sure how much research you have done, but it's typically a year long process and often times people do not succeed their first time. With that said, you're more than likely a pretty solid middle of the road candidate.
    4. Be aware that you probably won't be in a research role once selected. If you are going to do OTS, you have to be pretty ok with the idea of signing up for x number of years being a Admin officer or supply officer. It's a possibility and one that you must accept. As you said, the Air Force needs will always be more important than yours.
    5. Lastly this is probably a good administration to attempt this route. If Trump is able to increase the size of the forces, there is going to be a need for more officers, so naturally selection might become easier. The economy is generally good, so the competition won't be as bad as it was during the great recession.
  4. Mar 3, 2017 #3
    You might wanna check out serviceacademyforums.com. It's SA focused obviously, but they have an OTS/OCS forum as well. I know there's at least one active 61D on the site, so if you search around a bit you might be able to find some good info. Good luck!
  5. Mar 3, 2017 #4
    Thank you for your insight. I am currently doing more research on different careers in the air force and I came across a few other interesting careers (flight test engineer, network operations officer) that also seem interesting.
  6. Mar 3, 2017 #5
  7. Mar 3, 2017 #6
    I looked at the sight ad its mostly comprised of people trying to apply to the academies. Do you know any other place where I can get some better insight (besides the AF website) ?
  8. Mar 3, 2017 #7
    Sorry, I don't know of any other good resources off the top of my head. It's possible you could find some useful stuff on baseops.net, but I think that tends to be more aviation focused.
  9. Mar 3, 2017 #8

    Vanadium 50

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    That isn't you only option. You can be crammed into an aircraft carrier. :smile:

    This. Read this again. And again. Don't expect the service's decisions to consider your opinions, or for that matter for the decisions even to make sense.
  10. Mar 3, 2017 #9
    makes sense. I feel like I can gain a lot from being an officer and I'll obviously go wherever they end up putting me. I think I have a rough idea but ill just have to see where the process takes me.
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