The biggest factor for Senior Master Sergeant and Chief Master Sergeant promotions, however, is the centralized promotion board. Twice per year (once for Senior Master Sergeant, and Once for Chief Master Sergeant), the Air Force convenes a promotion board. The board is divided into several 3-person panels, with each panel examining the promotion records for specific AFSCs (jobs). In other words, everyone eligible for promotion within a given AFSC will have their records scored by the same panel.
The board president is always a general officer, and each panel consists of two colonels (O-6), and one Chief Master Sergeant (E-9). The panel examines the promotion records, and score them by considering the following factors: Performance, Professional Competence, Leadership, Job Responsibility, Breadth of Experience, Specific Achievements, Education.
For specifics about how the scoring process works, see Senior NCO Promotion Fact Sheet. The maximum number of board points that can be awarded is 450, so you can see that the board is the most significant part of Senior Master Sergeant and Chief Master Sergeant Promotions.
So, how long does it take to get promoted in the Air Force? On average, one can expect to be promoted after completing the following Time-in-Service (2001 Statistics):
- Airman (E-2) - 6 months
- Airman First Class (E-3) - 16 months
- Senior Airman (E-4) - 3 years
- Staff Sergeant (E-5) - 4.4 years
- Technical Sergeant (E-6) - 12.9 years
- Master Sergeant (E-7) - 16.9 years
- Senior Master Sergeant (E-8) - 19.7 years
- Chief Master Sergeant (E-9) - 22.1 years