What kind of guardsman do you want to be?
As you begin searching for jobs in the guard or reserve, you have to first figure out how much and in what way you want to participate in the guard. Do you want to be full-time or part-time? Military or civil service? Be in a guard/reserve unit or attached to an active duty unit? Below we've explained the major types of guard/reserve service, beginning with the most like active duty and ending with the most like regular civilian life.
Active Guard/Reserve (AGR)
This is one of two types of guard or reserve slots that may be referred to as 'full-time.' As AGR, you are in the guard or reserve but are on active duty, assigned to your guard or reserve unit. All active duty benefits apply, including the retirement at 20 years of active service. There remain a few differences from your active duty brethren. The first is those pesky PCS moves – you won’t move unless you want to, or something (e.g. BRAC) happens to your unit. Of course this only applies to AGR jobs that are more or less permanent – some AGR jobs are for a specified term, such as a year, and obviously you’d have to move and/or find another AGR job once the term expired. (Once in the AGR program, you have preference for other AGR positions over others trying to get an AGR job, which helps you reach your 20 years). The second is the UCMJ – if you’re an AGR in the AF Reserve, it’s the same as being active duty – you fall under the UCMJ. If you’re AGR in the Guard, however, you are active duty in that state’s ANG and fall under the state’s code (if any). As an AGR in the ANG you may be eligible for additional benefits (such as free in-state tuition) offered by that state’s ANG, also. The state-specific characteristic of the ANG is one of a few differences between the Guard and Reserve.
Air Federal Technician
This is the second type of guard or reserve slot that is referred to as 'full-time.' Federal Technicians are federal civil service employees of their units for whom participating in the unit as a traditional Guardsman is a condition of employment. During the week Federal Technicians mostly work in the same job they fill on drill weekends, but for civil service pay (even though they wear uniforms to work). Think of Federal Technicians as traditional Guardsman who happen to also be employed by the unit as civilians during the week. It’s worth noting that working for the unit as both a Guardsman and a civilian employee can be tough – you might fly a night training mission and have to be at your ‘civilian’ Federal Technican job at 0730 the next morning. You do receive civilian leave (with pay) while on active duty (for annual training, for example).
This is the classic "weekend warrior" job. Most of the time, you're a civilian enjoying the wonders of regular life, but about once a month you’ll gather with your unit for a training weekend (called a Unit Training Assembly – UTA) and once a year you’ll complete a two-week annual training. As a flyer, you will have additional training periods for specific flying training requirements. The minimum requirements don’t add up to too much, but of course if your unit gets activated/mobilized you are on the hook for active duty in support of contingency operations. If you complete 20 years of satisfactory service (which means meeting the minimum training requirements during your reserve years and includes your active duty years) you are eligible to retire from the reserve and receive retirement pay at age 60. The amount of the retirement pay depends on your grade, time in service, and the points you accumulated.