Civilian Developmental Education offers opportunities to learn, grow

SOS participant

Craig Smith, a civilian employee at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center participates in the Air Force Squadron Officer School, one of a number of opportunities for professional development in the Air Force Civilian Developmental Education portfolio. The course provided Smith the opportunity to immerse in Air Force leadership training in conjunction with active duty officers from across the Air Force mission. (Courtesy photo)

CDE 2020

AFMC leaders encourage employees across the command to start preparing now to apply for the 2019 Civilian Development Education opportunities when the application cycle opens March 1.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – With more than one-third of all Air Force civilians employed across the Air Force Materiel Command footprint, there’s a good chance that the next cadre of Air Force leadership is working at an AFMC organization at this very time.

Making sure these current and future leaders are prepared to fulfill and excel in leadership positions is the driving force behind the dedicated effort by AFMC leaders to encourage employees across the command to start preparing now to apply for the Academic Year 2020 Civilian Development Education opportunities when the application cycle opens March 1.

“The Air Force is making a dedicated effort to develop the entire workforce and all of our future leaders,” said Patricia Young, AFMC Executive Director. “We are making an investment in them and giving them skills, education and training so they can continue to lead and make us the best Air Force in the world.”

The Air Force CDE is a portfolio of courses and training designed to address the developmental needs of the civilian workforce at all levels. Programs help civilians to achieve short or long term goals at a level appropriate to their needs and desired path of future growth.

“At any point in their career, a civilian can access the education, coaching, training and mentoring they need at the appropriate level. This is our commitment to the workforce to ensure they are ready for that next step in their personal development,” said Young.

More than 700 AFMC civilians applied for spots in 1,145 CDE programs across the Department of Defense in 2018. Applicants were selected for more than 640 programs during the competitive process at all levels of the developmental spectrum.

“Our goal this year is to inform and inspire AFMC civilians on the Air Force CDE opportunities,” said Michael Owens, AFMC Civilian Development Program Manager. “The application window is short, which is why we are encouraging our civilians to begin to prepare now.”

The Air Force CDE portfolio has programs suitable for a person at every stage of their career. These include opportunities for civilians to attain associate through advanced college degrees in Air Force institutions and spots in military professional education programs such as the Air War College and Squadron Officer School. Fellowships at the RAND Research Institute, Education with Industry and the Engineer and Scientist Exchange Program are among a myriad of other portfolio offerings, which include long-term courses as well as shorter seminar events.

This year, programs are divided into five categories:  the Professional Military Education series, which includes Basic Developmental Education, Intermediate Developmental Education, and Senior Developmental Education; Academic Programs and Fellowships; and Leadership Courses, which are primarily one-week seminars.  The Air Force Personnel Center made this change to clarify the programs that meet the Professional Military Education requirement, which is one of the critical factors in determining program eligibility.

“Taking the right course, seminar or training at the right time is key. Getting feedback as a person develops an application package from a mentor or other leader can help ensure you are on the right track,” said Young.

For Marketta Peel, a management analyst at the 711th Human Performance Wing, Air Force Research Laboratory, CDE gave her the opportunity to complete her Master’s Degree through the Air Command and Staff College Online Master’s Degree Program.

“I was prior military and assumed I knew everything there was to know regarding our military and government, but this course took my knowledge to the next level,” said Peel. “I applied to finish my degree and continue on the road to success in my career. I was in classes with military and civilians much younger than me, and I succeeded.”

Craig Smith, a human resources chief of engineering at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, has participated in multiple CDE programs, including the Air Force Civilian Acculturation Leadership Program and more recently, Squadron Officer School. As a career civilian, Smith feels that CDE provided him with more exposure to military culture and training that will help him to succeed as a future leader in an Air Force organization.

“I knew that if I wanted to become a leader in the Air Force, then I would need to learn every aspect of the Air Force culture, which includes military culture and training,” said Smith. “I also wanted to be challenged physically and mentally in order to continue my individual developmental process.”

“I can honestly say that the relationships that I developed with my (SOS) Flight are the greatest experiences in my Air Force career. I learned from every single individual, and I believe they all learned something from me as well,” he continued. “I changed their view of civilians in the Air Force, and they changed my view of uniformed members as well.”

The CDE application window is open from March 1 through May 1. Interested individuals are encouraged to review program details on the myPers website and to speak with a supervisor or mentor to discuss program options.

Though an individual does not have to opt in and participate in CDE, the career impact can be significant, said Young.

“Those who opt in and want to continue their personal and professional development might be more competitive for jobs in the future,” said Young. “We think that we have created such a valuable program that it can benefit everyone.”

To learn more about the Civilian Developmental Education program, visit:

As the application window approaches, civilians are advised to monitor their email and the AFPC and AFMC websites for further information on programs, application processes and deadlines.

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