The Air Force’s pool of master sergeants is growing in 2024

by Vern Evans

Nabbing a promotion to master sergeant got a little easier this year.

The Air Force announced Thursday that 5,500 technical sergeants, or E-6s, were selected to become the service’s newest master sergeants, or E-7s, out of a pool of nearly 29,500 eligible airmen. That’s a selection rate of 18.6% — up from 17.3% in 2023, according to the Air Force Personnel Center.

Master sergeants comprise the first tier of senior noncommissioned officers, technical experts who are transitioning from frontline supervisors to operational leaders.

While more technical sergeants will advance this year than last, they also spent a little more time as technical sergeants — nearly four-and-a-half years on average — than those promoted in 2023. The 2024 cohort also spent a few more months in uniform before adding a new stripe than last year’s selectees, at almost 14 years in uniform on average.

Percentages of those selected for master sergeant have swung widely in recent years. In 2022, just 14.8% of those eligible were promoted, down from 18.9% the previous year. In 2018, nearly 30% of eligible airmen were selected to promote to master sergeant.

The promotions come as the Air Force seeks to rebalance its enlisted force to become less top-heavy and bolster its lowest-ranking billets. The service wants to slightly shrink its cohort of master sergeants to comprise 9.5% of its enlisted corps by the end of fiscal year 2025; promotions are one tool to help hit that figure.

The service has said it expects its workforce to remain flat in fiscal year 2025.

The list of master sergeant-selects can be found here.

Courtney Mabeus-Brown is the senior reporter at Air Force Times. She is an award-winning journalist who previously covered the military for Navy Times and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., where she first set foot on an aircraft carrier. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy and more.

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