AUDITIONS AND USAF BAND CAREER INFORMATIONHow much is the salary and other allowances?
Basic Pay: After you complete basic training and arrive at The United States Air Force Band, you are awarded the rank of Technical Sergeant (E-6 pay grade) and will earn $2,317.80 per month in basic military pay. Your pay will increase with tenure and promotions, and you will receive annual pay raises to reflect the increase in cost-of-living.
In addition to basic pay, the Air Force offers non-taxable housing and food allowances to help cover your living expenses.
Housing Allowance: For members living off base, an allowance (known as "Basic Allowance for Housing") is provided to defray the cost of housing in the Washington, D.C. area. This allowance is based on your rank and on whether or not you are providing support for dependents, such as children living with you or a spouse. Although most members of The Air Force Band live off base, a limited supply of on-base housing is available. (Availability varies, and in most cases, you must sign up on a waiting list for housing.) For on-base residents, housing expenses, including rent, utility bills and maintenance are paid in full in lieu of the housing allowance.
Food Allowance: The Air Force provides a food allowance (known as "Basic Allowance for Subsistence") of up to $348.44 per month.
Total Pay: With basic pay and the housing and food allowance, a Technical Sergeant with dependents, living off-base, will earn $61,838.88 annually, of which $34,025.28 is tax-free. A Technical Sergeant without dependents, living off base, will earn $54,386.88 annually, of which $26,573.28 is tax-free.
(Note: figures are current as of 2012)
TDY Expenses: When traveling for job-related reasons (known as temporary duty [TDY] away from your home base), you receive additional tax-free money to cover your meals, lodging, and other incidental expenses.
Uniform Allowance: You receive an annual tax-free clothing allowance to replace uniform items.
Are health care and life insurance available?
All members of the U.S. Armed Forces are automatically enrolled in TRICARE - the Department of Defense's health care program for active duty personnel, retirees, and their families. Through TRICARE, you receive FREE, comprehensive medical and dental care at the Joint Base Anacostia Bolling Clinic, or as needed, at one of the Washington, D.C., area military treatment facilities or civilian TRICARE providers. Family members may also be enrolled in TRICARE and receive medical care at military or civilian facilities through various options for little or no cost. Inexpensive dental care programs may be purchased for family members.
Air Force members may participate in the Service Members' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program at very reasonable rates. For example, for only $29 per month, members may purchase life insurance coverage of $400,000.
Is there a pension or retirement program?
The Air Force provides a 20-year retirement program for its members. After serving 20 years, members will receive 50% percent of their basic pay in retirement compensation. This amount increases each year by 2.5%, and after 30 years of service, members will receive 75% of their basic pay in retirement compensation. Retirement income is adjusted each year to compensate for increases in the cost of living.
The federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) allows participants to place a portion of their monthly pay into an account similar to a 401(k) investment plan. The contributions are considered pretax dollars and therefore reduce the amount of income subject to tax, and the accounts grow tax-free. Enrollment is available when members first join the military and anytime thereafter. Unlike traditional military retirement, which requires a commitment of at least 20 years of active duty, money invested in the TSP belongs to individual members, no matter how many years they serve. Income contributed to the TSP is not taxed until withdrawn from the account. Withdrawal before age 59-1/2 may be subject to penalty; however, the TSP account can be rolled over into an IRA or another employer's retirement account.
What about vacation time and sick leave?
Active-duty members of the Air Force earn 30 days of leave (vacation) each year. Members of each performing ensemble (with the exception of the Ceremonial Brass) take their leave at the same time during a "blanket leave" period. Requests for leave outside of the blanket leave period are considered on a case-by-case basis and may be approved depending on the performing/rehearsal schedule and mission needs of each ensemble. Special consideration is given to emergency situations and significant family events.
Members are not charged leave for sick days, and with doctor authorization, will receive as many as necessary to return to full health.
Can my student loans be deferred or repaid?
The College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP) is for all non-prior-service persons considering enlistment in
the Air Force. If you have taken some college courses and have accumulated debt, this program may be for
you. Participants must sign up for this program when signing the enlistment contract. Under CLRP the repayment maximum is $10,000 per recruit.
Are benefits available for continuing education?
Yes! The Air Force encourages its members to seek continued development in their area of expertise. The Air Force Band sets aside limited funds for private lessons and for participation in professional workshops and conferences.
The Air Force also offers 100% tuition reimbursement (up to $250 per semester hour, not to exceed $4,500 annually) for those working on an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree. There are many excellent schools in the Washington, D.C., area.
Post-9/11 GI Bill
Post-9/11 GI Bill offers increased education benefits to veterans who served on or after 11 Sep 01. Benefits are based on aggregate, honorable service, and include college tuition (up to a certain amount), a monthly housing stipend and an annual books/supplies stipend. Active duty and distance learning students may receive a pro-rated benefit. Eligible active duty service members and Selected Reserve may chose to transfer benefits to DEERS-registered dependents, but stipulations apply and require eligibility determination by Service component.
Everyone with at least 90 aggregate, active duty days of honorable service on or after 11 Sep 01 is eligible for benefits under the new GI Bill. For full benefits, a member must have served at least 36 months active duty on or after 11 Sep 01. Reserve and National Guard members with 3 years of aggregate, active duty service on or after 11 Sep 01 can also qualify for full GI Bill benefits. Eligibility stipulations and benefit details are available at base education offices and at http://www.gibill.va.gov.
Can I shop at the base commissary and exchange?
Members and their families are permitted to shop at military commissaries (grocery stores), base exchanges (department stores) and service stations. These facilities offer tax-free shopping and a savings of about 30% over similar off-base stores. Additionally, recreational facilities and skills shops (such as wood shop, framing shop, photography and automobile skills shops) are available at a significant cost savings. These facilities are can be found at Joint Base Anacostia Bolling and at the other military installations in the Washington, D.C., area.
What other benefits are there for my family?
Twelve military family support centers in the greater Washington area provide job-search, volunteer and educational assistance to military family members. Some of the services provided are career counseling, interview techniques training, assistance with resume preparation and access to job banks and Department of Defense job listings. Free informational assistance for house hunting and understanding the local real estate market is also available for military families.
The Judge Advocate General's office (a law office) on Joint Base Anacostia Bolling offers free legal assistance to members and their families, including preparing wills and powers of attorney, reviewing legal documents such as lease agreements and providing notary service.
2: QualificationsDo I need a college degree?
Although most members of The United States Air Force Band have earned undergraduate degrees, a college degree is not required to become a member. Candidates are offered positions solely on the basis of a successful audition.
Are there physical requirements?
To be considered for a position with the Air Force Band you must not have a medical condition that would prevent you from enlisting in the United States Air Force. You must also be between the ages of 18 and 34. Waivers may be applied for if you do not meet these requirements, but no guarantee can be made that they will be granted.
As a member of the Air Force, you must maintain high standards of personal appearance and physical fitness. You will be required to pass bi-annual physical fitness evaluations and will be subject to random drug urinalysis testing at any time during your enlistment. Prior to your audition, you will be asked to demonstrate that you fall within the Air Force maximum allowable weight standards.
Will I need a security clearance?
Members of The United States Air Force Band must obtain a Secret Security Clearance. Due to the length and scope of the security clearance process, it is initiated when a new member arrives at the Band. An extensive background investigation is necessary to be granted the clearance. During the initial telephone interview before your audition, you will be asked a series of questions to determine if any barriers exists that might prevent you from obtaining a clearance. Failure to obtain and maintain this security clearance may result in administrative separation from The United States Air Force Band.
3: Audition ProceduresHow do I find out about openings?
Current openings are posted on this Website and are advertised in professional trade journals such as the International Musician.
How do I get an audition?
Step One: Send required materials to the band. A committee will review the materials and determine whether an applicant demonstrates the minimal musical skills necessary for membership in the band.
Step Two: Applicants are contacted by their local Air Force recruiter who sets up an in-person prescreen interview to determine the applicant's eligibility to enlist in the U.S. Air Force.
Step Three: Applicants who pass the initial prescreening are invited to a live audition. They are asked to perform various prepared compositions and to demonstrate outstanding ensemble skills and music theory knowledge. The audition committee evaluates each applicant silently and confidentially. (Note: Those invited to the audition travel at their own expense.)
What happens if I win the audition?
If you are found to be musically qualified and are the best candidate, you will be offered a position as a member of The United States Air Force Band. You do not have to accept the position right away, however, we ask that you make every effort to let us know within one week.
4: Joining the Air ForceWhere do I start?
When you accept a position with The United States Air Force Band, you will be given an Air Force Form 485, Application for Enlistment in an Air Force Band, which allows you to begin the enlistment process and join the Air Force. Simply take the form to your local recruiter who will guide you through the enlistment process. You must take and pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (a skills assessment test) and complete a physical exam. The enlistment process is completed at your local Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) where you will sign an enlistment contract. After enlisting, you will go directly to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, to complete Basic Military Training.
What is Basic Training like and how long is it?
Basic Training is an 81/2-week course at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. While in basic, you'll learn standard military drill and ceremonies, Air Force history, customs and courtesies, and will participate in daily physical fitness exercises. Visit http://www.basictraining.af.mil/questions/index.asp for more details. Musicians, who are usually highly educated and very self-disciplined, tend to do quite well at basic training. Projected band members are sent through basic training in the Drum and Bugle Corps flight.
After Basic, what happens?
When you graduate from Basic Military Training, you will be immediately assigned to The United States Air Force Band. You are allotted a specific number of travel days to move from your home of record to Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling and the Washington, D.C., area.
Incoming members and their families can be housed on base temporarily for up to 30 days for a small, reimbursable fee. Married members may be given 8 days for "house hunting." These days do not count against your vacation time (leave). House hunting time must be taken in the D.C. area immediately following basic training. New members "sign-in" to the base upon arrival to The USAF Band building, Hangar 2. Your sign-in date triggers your immediate date of rank (DOR) to Technical Sergeant, grade E-6.
The Air Force will move your household goods, and if necessary, will store them until you find permanent housing. If you decide to move yourself, you will be reimbursed for some of the moving and storage expenses.
Where can I find information about joining the Air Force?
The Air Force has a comprehensive Website - www.AirForce.com - that provides a great deal of information about joining the Air Force. Additionally, your local Air Force recruiter will answer all of your questions about the benefits of joining the Air Force. To find your local recruiter, call (800) 423-USAF.
5: Professional Life Where does the Band perform?
The Band performs in all types of settings, from the finest concert halls to other venues such as school or civic auditoriums, outdoor festivals, parades, gymnasiums and field houses. On occasion, units of the Band even deploy around the world to entertain American troops who are serving overseas to defend our nation's security.
Through our concert series - Guest Artist Series, Jazz Heritage Series, Chamber Players Series and Summer Concert Series - the Band entertains audiences of all ages in the Washington, D.C. region. On community relations tours throughout the country, the Band performs in major metropolitan regions as well as small communities.
The Band is in great demand to perform at educational conferences such as the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, College Band Directors National Association, Jazz Educators Network convention and the American Choral Directors Association.
At home on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling and at Air Force installations around the country, the Band performs for official military functions and ceremonies.
Small chamber ensembles and instrumental/vocal groups perform in venues ranging from the White House Visitor Center to the homes of senior government and military leaders who are hosting their counterparts from around the nation and the world.
The Ceremonial Brass performs full- and standard-honors funerals at Arlington National Cemetery and regularly at patriotic and ceremonial events in the nation's capital.
All brass, woodwind and percussion players are required to perform in marching formations for various functions at the White House, Pentagon, and for special events such as the Presidential Inaugural and other high-visibility parades.
Are there other performance opportunities?
Although you are assigned full time to perform with one of the Band's ensembles, you may be temporarily asked to perform with other units to alleviate manning shortages in those ensembles. You may also participate in the Chamber Players Series as your duty schedule allows.
If you wish, you may participate as a civilian in the D.C. area's active and vibrant performing arts community or give private lessons to music students. However, remember that if a scheduling conflict should arise, your Air Force Band commitments must be met first.
Are instruments and equipment provided?
The Band will supply you with professional-caliber musical instruments as well as the musical supplies and performance uniforms (or costumes) you need to accomplish your musical duties. Air Force equipment may not be used in activities unrelated to your official duties (freelancing, teaching, etc.)
What will my duty schedule be like?
Each unit of the Band is unique in its scheduling and has different rehearsal/performance requirements that change on a weekly basis according to the mission. Band units frequently perform on evenings and weekends, and compensatory days off are often given on weekdays. For example, if a performance tour goes over a weekend, days off may be scheduled on weekdays following the return. The band schedule typically includes the same number of days off enjoyed by the rest of the Air Force.
As military bands are a traditional part of American patriotic celebrations, you should expect to work on major holidays such as Veteran's Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day.
A typical non-performance day consists of rehearsals and administrative duties, spending about half of the duty day in each area.
Will I have any non-musical duties?
The Air Force Band is a fairly self-contained organization, meaning its people must perform a variety of non-musical duties to ensure the smooth day-to-day functioning of the unit. These duties may range from performing simple clerical work to coordinating and managing the activities of an entire unit.
Most new members of the Band are assigned to stage crew and will assist with the transporting, setting up and tearing down of the equipment for performances. In addition to stage crew, members are assigned to work in one of the following areas.
- Music Library
- Public Affairs (publicity kit and web site development and maintenance)
- Operations (coordinating group tours and performances)
- Equipment Supply (procurement and inventory)
- Band Administration (records clerk, training monitor, auditions, awards and decorations)
- Computer Staff (application development, network administration, software/hardware maintenance)
- Vehicles (coordinating/maintaining band vehicles)
Is The Air Force Band a full-time job?
Working as a musician in The United States Air Force Band is a full-time profession, not a side activity. You will be an active duty member of the United States Air Force. In wartime or peacetime, your primary duty is to perform as a musician. However, in emergency situations such as hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes, you might be used in the base manpower pool to assist with clean up efforts around your base. This rarely happens.