The Air Force recognizes that military life can generate stress for personnel as well as dependents. Air Force clinical social workers are officers in the USAF medical corps who provide services to military personnel and their families. Only candidates who meet the requirements qualify for this job.
Air Force clinical social workers provide counseling services to airmen and their families. The issues they deal with may range from job stress to marital problems. Issues may be financial, such as stretching military pay to cover a growing family, or mission-related, such as separation.
The Air Force requires clinical social workers to hold a master’s degree in social work from an accredited university and the highest license offered by the candidate’s state of residency. Candidates with clinical experience beyond graduate school are preferred. Candidates working on the master’s or highest license may be eligible to apply as interns; a local recruiter can advise on eligibility for internships. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and between the ages of 18 and 34. A passing score on the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test is required. Candidates must pass a physical, background check and drug test. Selection is made by a board, which weighs all factors, including AFOQT scores, grade-point average, experience, character and past accomplishments in making its determination.
Candidates for the job of clinical social worker qualify for the direct commission route. Normally, new officers attend basic officer training school, which lasts approximately three months and is a rigorous program, both physically and mentally. With a direct commission, however, training is reduced to five weeks. During this training, new officers learn about military healthcare and basic military procedures. Training for direct commission officers consists of classroom instruction, leadership development and physical conditioning exercises.
Base pay for the military is set by the Department of Defense and normally revised annually. All military personnel of equal rank and service years receive the same basic pay. Pay grades of O-1, O-2, O-3 and O-4 correspond to the ranks of second lieutenant, first lieutenant, captain and major, respectively. Although candidates typically enter as second lieutenants, individuals may receive a higher rank, based on experience, education, test scores and other factors. Monthly basic pay for pay grade O-1 ranges from $2,876.40 to $3,619.20, as of 2013, while an O-2 earns between $3,314.10 and $4,586.40. The salary range for an O-3 is between $3,835.50 and $6,240, and it is $4,362.40 to $7,283.70 for an O-4. If officers choose on-base housing, it is provided at no cost, and if they choose to live off base, they receive a monthly allowance. This allowance is based on the officer’s rank and family status, and it ranges from $660.90 to $1,822.50. Subsistence allowances of up to $1,100 per month are also provided for those choosing off-base housing.
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