|Air Force Enlisted Promotion System|
|SMSgt (E-8) Promotion Overview and Historical Promotion Rates|
The Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard base their enlisted promotion rates based upon a member's job. In other words, promotion rates are different for each job, depending on how many available "slots" there are in the next grade.
That means that for over-manned jobs, it is very hard to get promoted, while people in undermanned jobs may be promoted much faster than the service-wide average.
The Air Force manages its enlisted promotions differently. The Air Force first determines the overall promotion-rate (Air Force Wide) for the promotion cycle, by forecasting how many slots will be available. It then takes this rate and applies it to all of the Air Force jobs (almost*) equally.
For example, let's say the Air Force determines (Air Force Wide) that it will be promoting 20 percent of all eligible Staff Sergeants Sergeants (E-5) to the rank of Technical Sergeant (E-6) for the next promotion cycle. Each and every career field (job) will promote 20 percent of their eligible Staff Sergeants to Technical Sergeant, regardless of whether or not the job is over-manned or undermanned.
*NOTE: The percentages for each job don't come out evenly for two reasons:
When determining who gets promoted, the Air Force uses WAPS (Weighted Airman Promotion System) points. For SMSgt (E-8) and CMSgt (E-9) promotions, the individual's records are also reviewed by a centralized promotion board. The promotion board awards "board points," based upon the records. The maximum board points that can be awarded are 450. Quite simply, if the promotion rate is 10 percent, you add up the WAPS points and the promotion board points, and the top 10 percent of the eligible members in that job with the most total points, are the ones who get promoted.
Below are the historical Air Force promotion rates to the rank of Senior Master Sergeants from Fiscal Year 1971 to Fiscal Year 2002: