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The Value of Continuing Education

College student using a laptop.

PATRICK AFB, Fla. – One important chapter out of any Air Force or civilian Career Guide is learning to be an expert in your chosen field. 

To accomplish this requires four elements: core training, continuing education, discipline and the ability to think beyond the pages of a manual. Our Air Force core training comes from technical schools, on-the-job training, or college classes. 

That education is only the beginning of our journey, and the reason most of us join the military. The next two elements are used together to get to the level of subject matter expert (SME). 

We take the time to learn everything we can about our job using many sources such as technical manuals and manufacturer instructions. More interesting sources include internet searches or networking tools such as blogs, LinkedIn or other types of social media. The information we gain is developed into usable tools in our work centers. 

When we share our expertise with others as a SME, an instructor or a consultant, our knowledge is then challenged and sharpened. 

Why become a SME? Because there is a tangible need for people with great skills in every office. But, we can't focus only on technical materials. We must continue to educate ourselves in other areas to become the whole package person. 

This includes learning how to speak and write well, how to get along with others, and investing some time in professional societies where we can share ideas. Networking can work in our favor when we need professional advice or a job after retirement. A little effort now can pay off big later. 

The Air Force promised us an education, and that culture of continual growth is still strong today. 

Our members enjoy 100% Tuition Assistance, the GI Bill, certifications, continuing education via computer based training, commissioning programs through degree completion as well as training in personal finance and interpersonal skills from the Airman Family and Readiness Centers. 

All of these are cost-free. So let's keep learning fun and make it a part of every day. That way our skills will be continually sharpened and our brains will stay engaged! 

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