If you’re reading this blog post because you’re a follower of mine, then it may not mean much to you. But if you’re reading this because you found it on Pinterest or through a Google search, chances are you’re thinking of taking a CST position in the Air Force or you just found out your AFSC is Client Systems.
I did a lot of Googling when I found out that I could possibly work in Client Systems and everyone said the same thing. It’s the “Geek Squad” of the Air Force. I’m here to confirm that. Client Systems is like the Geek Squad, EXCEPT you’re paid a lot more and way more valuable then some kid at Best Buy. Today, I’m going to give you a full rundown of what this AFSC does and what technical training has been like so far.
A Summary for AFSC 3D1X1
The Air Force Specialty Code for Client Systems is 3D1X1. The “X” stands for whatever your skill level is at the time. After graduating tech school, you are a 3-skill level, or apprentice.
According to my instructors, Client Systems Technicians work on everything from the wall jack out. We do not deal with anything inside the walls, under the buildings, etc. We deal with ticketing systems (where people submit work orders because their computers are jacked up) etc. Troubleshooting is life. It’s a customer service oriented job. You could be on the phone all day talking to officers and high-ranking enlisted personnel about ridiculous problems like why their e-mail won’t work, etc. If you don’t like people… you’ll probably hate it. If you’re intimidated by officers (like me), it’s going to be a struggle.
Some say it’s the best job in the world; others say it’s the worst. One thing is for sure: this field is hot, ever-changing, and the AF is going to make you very valuable with their education.
Client Systems Tech Training and Education
The training and classes for AFSC 3D1X1 are changing as I type this. Just as I arrived at tech school at the end of November, they cut 2 blocks out and changed the certification standards. You used to have to pass the A+ certification test and take blocks on radios and telephones. Blocks are courses of instruction (around 6-7 days long). They have thrown all that out and changed the certification to Security+ because it is a tier 2 level certification and the DoD requires anyone working on their computers to have it. It has very little to do with our job, but alas, it’s the way the game is played. I will go into more detail about Sec+ later.
CS is a fairly new AFSC, so the Air Force is still working out the kinks of instruction and what they expect their students to know. It’s still up in the air. There’s a chance the layout I am showing you for the Client Systems Course could actually get shorter than what it already is! Here’s a layout of how the school is now:
- IT Fundamentals (2 Blocks, 10 Days) DOLAN HALL
- Client Systems Course (5 Blocks, 32 days) THOMSON HALL
- Block 1 – Intro to Client Systems – 7 days
- Block 2 – Personal Computer Technology – 6 days
- Block 3 – Workstation Management – 7 days
- Block 4 – Network Account Management – 6 days
- Block 5 – Client Systems Project (Not testable, but has Progress Check) – 6 days
- Security+ (10 days) THOMSON HALL
IT Fundamentals is a lot of memory work. You learn about routers, modems, and other computery stuff, as well as servers, networks, and protocols. It trips a lot of people up because they don’t study enough. I passed those two blocks just fine, but I put in a lot of study time. If you have experience (like working at Geek Squad), you will do okay, but you still have to STUDY. I’m the least experienced person in our group, but I had higher scores than most because they didn’t put in the study time needed to memorize the way the books word the information.
I took the Block 1 test for the Client Systems course right after Christmas Exodus and scored a 98%. Just remember to study and you’ll be fine. Everything tends to be a cram jam. You do learn how to make an Ethernet cable from scratch. It’s pretty cool. You also learn about the duties and responsibilities of our AFSC.
Block 2 gets you inside the computer and teaches you specific parts and how to remove them. It’s pretty cool, but I was confused quite a bit. Block 3 involved lots of learning how to map drives and complete software installs. This is stuff we’ll be doing in our actual job.
Block 4 and 5 have several progress checks (similar to testing, only hands-on). I’ve heard the Block 4 test is the hardest. Block 5 does not have a written test, but it has a huge progress check that many people fail. Overall, I think I’ll be okay if I study and stay focused.
Security+ is the big kahuna. It beats a lot of airmen down, and it typically takes twice to pass. I’m praying I don’t fail the first time. We were told to begin studying a book (that we purchase on our own) before we get to the class. The class is only 9 days, meaning you are only being taught for 8 days. You must be focused and dedicated to succeed. That’s all I can say about Security+ for now. I plan on writing a post dedicated solely to it after I pass.
Keesler AFB | Biloxi, MS
First, you should know that the technical school for Client Systems is at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi. It’s located right on the Gulf of Mexico. The base is small, but that’s nice because you have to walk most of it unless your family is bringing your car. You’ll be in the 336th Training Squadron and will be known as the Red Wolves. You’ll do most of your learning at Thomson Hall.
All the dorms for training airmen are in the “Triangle.” The dorms create a triangular appearance from above, hence the name. You’ll live in Smith or Holbrook Manor. Currently, females live in Holbrook on the first floor, though they’re talking about changing it to integrated floors. We’ll see. You’ll notice a few Marines and Navy bros marching around, but for the most part, training at Keesler is dedicated to airmen.
Biloxi is a cool town. It has everything you could want and more. There’s tons of great seafood joints, and a lot of casinos. Even if you’re not 21, there’s plenty to do and lots to eat. Also, be wary of STDs. They run rampant here. If you’re not married and looking to hook up, think twice. There are some real nasty airmen out there.
This seems to be a pretty good starter for now. I hope to write more about Client Systems after I pass Security+ and begin On-the-Job training in Denver. Feel free to ask any questions!