Professional development

  • Published
  • By Col. Robert Letourneau
  • 49th Materiel Maintenance Group commander

In your future, do you want to be technically competent, financially secure, respected for your contributions?  Do you have short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals that will put you on the path to this destination?  Last week Lt Col (Sel) [Lieutenant Colonel Select] Jeurney Meekins wrote in this column about the importance of setting goals.  This week, I will build upon her article with some thoughts on Professional Development (PD) and the need for PD goals.

Professional Development has to do with bringing the knowledge, skills and abilities required for your vocation into a more advanced or effective state.  The Air Force has worked consistently to develop PD processes and opportunities that span your career.  We invest in you to get a highly trained, qualified, experienced and disciplined member for our team, and to secure the future of our Service and our Nation.


Elements of Professional Development include off-duty education, Professional Military Education (PME), specific skill training, additional training, professional development seminars/courses, and communication skills. Embedded in many of these are elements of personal development that may include relationship building, interpersonal communication and supervisory skills.

The Air Force will make many courses available to you in your career.   Some will be offered or mandatory at very specific times.  Others require your initiative and won't be offered to you on a silver platter.  You may have to chase them down or complete prerequisites if you want to partake and meet your goals.

Don't know where to start?  Ask your supervisor or a mentor.  I recommend that you talk to several people you respect in and out of your career field.  Your leaders are responsible for diagnosing the developmental needs of Airmen and then assisting them with personal and professional developmental needs that fulfill current or future job/role and responsibilities.  Mentoring is an essential component of PD.  At minimum, mentoring consists of a discussion of performance, potential, and professional development plans during the performance feedback session.  The feedback should include promotion, PME, advanced degree work, physical fitness, personal goals and expectations, professional qualities, next assignment, and long-range plans, at minimum.  The new Airman's Comprehensive Assessment (feedback) forms are designed to facilitate meaningful and purposeful feedback so all Airmen reach their full potential.  Your next feedback will require discussion about your personal and professional goals.  This is your opportunity to open a dialog about those plans with your supervisor.  If you are a supervisor, make sure your troop has a plan toward becoming a highly trained, qualified, experienced and disciplined member for our team!


Whether you serve for a few years or until retirement, each of us will eventually leave the service.  Will you be prepared for that future?  Your Air Force offers you fantastic opportunities for Professional Development, and I encourage you to take advantage of as many as you need to secure your goals.  Know where you want to go and have a plan to get there.  To get started, pick a short-term goal.  How about taking the next step toward earning your CCAF [Community College of the Air Force], bachelor's or master's degree?  Get after it!