AFSC 3D1X1 (Client Systems) and Tech School

Technical Training and Client Systems

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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.

Technical Training and Client Systems

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
  1. Block 1 – Intro to Client Systems – 7 days
  2. Block 2 – Personal Computer Technology – 6 days
  3. Block 3 – Workstation Management – 7 days
  4. Block 4 – Network Account Management – 6 days
  5. 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.

Ethernet cable

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.

Biloxi Beach

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.

Biloxi Visitor Center LighthouseAll 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!

 

26 thoughts on “AFSC 3D1X1 (Client Systems) and Tech School

    1. It is pretty nasty. A lot of partying happens here, even with the strict rules. Biloxi is okay, but I’m ready to get out of here. It’s no fun without your spouse.

  1. Please tell me about the IT fundamental blocks. Was it a lot of math, what exactly was taught. I am suppose to be going off to tech school early in 2017. Thanks

    1. There was no math at all. You might a learn a little about binary (which is a computer’s language), but other than that, there’s really no numbers involved. I suck at math and I thought I would struggle, but I did fine. Learning about electronic principles was tough for me, but it was more science than numbers. Good luck!

    1. We did have weekends off, and I had Thanksgiving and Christmas time off. The training is counted by days you are in class. It’s about 60 days of training for Client Systems, which over the course of the holidays and weekends, totaled about 3.5 months. We were in class from 7-4 nearly every day.

  2. Hi. My son graduates from bootcamp the 1st weekend in May & he just sent me a letter to request that I help him research his duty station options as he has to turn in his wish list soon. Can you please weigh in on this? He’s 21 – only been 50 miles away to college & I’m thinking he should go somewhere with a low cost of living to begin. What says you?

    1. The Midwest has the lowest cost of living – hands down. However, no new airman really wants to go there. As far as the next cheapest, bases on the east coast towards Alabama and Florida will be the best bet. As a mom, it can be hard to let your new airman go off into the wild blue yonder, but ultimately, he should spread his wings. He should base his duty station not on cost-of-living, but on activities he loves. If he loves the ocean, any base in Florida will work. If he loves the mountains, shoot for Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Fishing and hunting is very big in the Midwest, so that might be the place for him. A base is what you make it.

      Check out this link to see possible bases he might like (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_Air_Force_installations). Also remember that his job will play a large part in where he can go. If he has a very specific job, he’ll be limited to specific bases.

      Hope this helps!

  3. I am just seeing this blog. It is very thorough and filled with good information. I am cross training into the career field. I was wondering if you knew what the book was called for Security+ course? I have not begun my cross training yet, but I am hoping that you would know. I also wanted to know how you felt about the career field?

    1. Thanks for the comments! I recommend using Darryl Gibson’s Sec+ book. I believe they were using Sybex, but there is no required text you must have. Most of us used Gibson’s. The career field is good, but a lot of political drama – of course. It is also ever-changing. Nothing stays the same in Comm for too long. Still, it’s a good job and there are much worse places to be. Dealing with the customers (high-ranking) can be difficult, but it’s survivable. Good luck! Let me know if you have any other questions!

  4. Hello Liz,

    I really like your blog. It’s really detailed and entertaining. I just got my afsc which is client systems tech and I leave in October. Since you are in this field what has your experience been like since you are operational? What are the days and hours of this field or they banker hours or shift?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Greg,

      Thanks so much for commenting! My experience has been good, though this is the type of career field where you deal with customers a LOT. You will put out a lot of fires, and training can sometimes be ineffective because everything changes so quickly. I have standard hours, Mon-Fri 7:30 to 4:30, though this does not include time spent PTing with my unit. You typically get an hour for lunch, and sometimes you are on call, so you may have some late nights or early mornings. Not a huge deal.

      Overall, it’s not a bad career field. Some people really hate it, but others enjoy it immensely. I just keep reminding myself that it isn’t the flightline, and the money we make is pretty good. Good luck in October! Let me know if you have any other questions!

      -Liz

    1. Hi Jason,

      Thanks for reaching out! It depends on the contract he signed. I believe (don’t quote me on this) if you sign a 6-year contract, you sew on E-3 after graduating technical school. If he signed a regular 4-year contract, it will depend on his time in service by the end of his technical training. It won’t simply be given to him just because he graduated technical training. The Junior tier is based entirely on time in service.

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

  5. Hello, I would like to know the difference between Client Systems and Cyber Transport Systems. I got Cyber ​​Transport Systems. I’m going to be in Basic September 12.

    1. Hi Johnathan,

      Cyber Transport is the better job. Client System Technicians are like the geek squad and fix everything from the wall out. We do software installs and set up printers. That means our skillset is limited. We know very little about the infrastructure of the base and how routers and switches work. Cyber Transport Systems are the infrastructure guys. They patch in ports and work with the network more than we do. They get a lot more training. They also get Top Secret clearances. They make the big money (triple digits) on the outside world, while CSTs can hope to get a job making $30-45k/year.

      I hope this helps. We work hand in hand a lot, but sometimes there can be some irritability because CSTs often envy the Cyber Transport people.

        1. Hi Julie,

          It would definitely be to the medical field. I’ve always loved the medical side and now I am trying to get back into that career field, so it only makes sense that I would cross train into some kind of medical AFSC. I really wanted to work on Biomedical Equipment, but that job wasn’t available when I came in. I would be happy with being an X-ray tech or some kind of diagnostic job too.

  6. I too was at Keesler…but this was before hurricane katrina tore up the city. we use to have every other friday off (which is why Keesler was also my first duty station! 3 DAY WEEKENDS!!!!) i went back to Biloxi for the clean up after the hurricane, because Biloxi became my second home and i still have friends that live there. what you’ve experienced of the city compared to what my experiences were are probably night and day due to all that the storm took away. but it’s still like a second home.

    1. Biloxi was really nice when I went, but I heard many horror stories about the hurricane and how much better the town was before it hit. The strip was built all back up, but you could see along the avenue where there used to be houses. Now it’s just a bunch of concrete slabs of what once was there.

  7. My son has been stationed in Ramstein Germany. He is in client systems. He says he will be deployed. How dangerous is his job?

    1. It depends on where he is deployed to, but we do not have an inherently dangerous job. We are the IT guys in the Air Force, so think – Best Buy Geek Squad. We typically work indoors and have A/C. We definitely have it better than most jobs. I wouldn’t worry too much about him. I hope this helps ease your mind. I have had several friends recently deployed and it was just like being at their regular job, only with longer hours and a different location.

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