AF COOL Program Explained
The Air Force COOL program is a pathway for enlisted members of the Air & Space Force to earn industry-recognized professional certifications and licenses. All related licensing fees, exam charges, and study preparation costs, including training, are covered by the Air Force COOL program.
The Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-Line, or AF COOL has a credential mapping for 642 professional certifications and licenses to support the 190 enlisted Air Force specialty codes. The credentials are at the national and state levels, and from industry. Funding will not exceed a maximum of $4,500 per lifetime per Airman or Space Professional.
WHY GET CREDENTIALED?
Credentialing has two purposes. First, it continues to professionalize the enlisted force by providing up-to-date industry-recognized credentials in an Airman or Space Professional’s job. Second, it provides a way for airmen to prepare for civilian life by ensuring that they are ready for work in the civilian sector. There are many aspects to credentialing including certifications and licenses.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR AF COOL?
The first requirement for enlisted RegAF, ARES, and ANG component members is you have to be on Title 10 or Title 32.502(f) orders during the complete process.
- Must ensure approval of funding before taking any actions that would obligate the expenditure of funds, to include registering for, scheduling or partaking in an exam or other credentialing expense.
- Submit request for payment not earlier than 60 days and not later than 30 days prior to the anticipated exam date.
- Submissions submitted after the start date will be the financial responsibility of the member.
- Member is required to submit exam results (pass or fail) within 30 days of course completion date.
- Member is required to review and understand credentialing agencies refund policy prior to taking an exam.
- Member will update personal email, contact number and address as well as the supervisor’s email and phone number prior to submitting an educational goal or funding request.
- Payments will not be made for CEU/PEU, failed exam retakes, conference attendance, travel, hotel expenses, per diem, airfare, etc.
- If payments are required to be made through a student portal and not a public facing site, the Airmen must be provided a login and password to give the Purchasing Agent to make these payments on their behalf. Failing to do so will result in disapproval.
In addition, to utilize the Air Force Cool program you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Enlisted, RegAF, ANG, AFRS* (ANG and AFRS must be on title 10 or title 32 (502)f orders for entire duration of the certification. ANG/AFRS members must have a copy of their orders uploaded to their digital file folder by their local base education office and their Activated End Date updated prior to creating an educational goal.
- Possess a 5-skill level in the Airmen’s assigned Primary Air Force Specialty Code to which credential is mapped.
- Must not have an Unfavorable Information File (UIF), a failed or overdue physical fitness test, a Referral Enlisted Performance Report (EPR), nor be on a control roster at the time of application for AF COOL.
- Must have a record in the Air Force Automated Education Management System with an approved credentialing goal.
- Must complete credential while in RegAF status, (with the exception of those who fall under the 180 day rule).
HOW DO I APPLY?
To apply for the Air Force COOL program, click into the Air Force Virtual Education Center (AFVEC). If you meet the requirements, the first step is to search for approved, related credentials. Once you've chosen a credential that you want to pursue, you will need to create an educational goal.
While you're creating this process after your supervisor has approved your educational goal, you'll be able to go into AFVEC and start uploading your supporting documentation. It is the member's responsibility to do the research and find the information that they're wanting to pursue. The AF COOL program does not offer that for you directly. NHDoD will assist in creating your education goal.
- Select a certification under the approved AF COOL listing in AFVEC, and create an Educational Goal
- Member’s Supervisor reviews to ensure member is eligible and has no factors limiting their ability to complete the certification.
- Member uploads supporting documents (at minimal itemized price quote and AF COOL Credentialing Agency Approval document) under their educational goal in AFVEC.
- Member creates two funding requests, if required, the first for study material and the second for exam(s).
- Funding Request will be reviewed by the AF COOL CPO, and if approved then sent to the Purchasing Agents for payment. Purchasing agent will notify the member that they are cleared to test.
- Member takes the test and uploads results under the supporting documents section of their educational goal
- Member emails AF COOL CPO to notify results have been uploaded (email@example.com)
- AF COOL CPO verifies, post results, and close educational goal.
POPULAR AF COOL APPROVED CERTIFICATION PROGRAMS
To make researching AFSC related credentials easy, below is a list of popular AF COOL approved certification programs. NHDoD, a division of New Horizons Learning Group, has designed several certification programs that significantly leverage the $4500 of funding available. Because these programs offer more than just a single class and exam, Airmen are required to complete each exam before AF Cool will approve the next course in the sequence.
|CompTIA IT Operations Specialist (CIOS)||CompTIA A+|
|CompTIA Secure Infrastructure Specialist (CSIS)||CompTIA Network+|
|CompTIA Systems Support Specialist (CSSS)||CompTIA A+|
|CompTIA Cloud Admin Professional (CCAP)||CompTIA Network+|
|CompTIA Network Infrastructure Professional (CNIP)||CompTIA Network+|
|CompTIA Linux Network Professional (CLNP)||CompTIA Network+|
|CompTIA Secure Cloud Professional (CSCP)||CompTIA Security+|
|CompTIA Security Analytics Professional (CSAP)||CompTIA Security+|
|CompTIA Security Analytics Expert (CSAE)||CompTIA CySA+|
|Project Management Sigma Program||Lean Six Sigma Green Belt|
Project Management Professional
|ITIL Lean Program||Lean Six Sigma Green Belt|
|Microsoft 365 Modern Desktop Administrator Associate||MD-100T00 Windows 10|
MD-101 Managing Modern Desktops
|Microsoft 365 Enterprise Administrator Expert||MS-100 Microsoft 365 Identity and Services|
MS-101 Microsoft 365 Mobility and Security
|Modern Network Internet of Things Practitioner||Cisco® Implementing and Administering Cisco® Solutions v1.0 (CCNA)|
CertNexus Certified Internet of Things Practitioner (CIoTP)
|Azure Administrator & Developer Associate||AZ-104T00 - Microsoft Azure Administrator|
AZ-204T00 - Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure
|Azure Security Engineer Associate||AZ-104T00 - Microsoft Azure Administrator|
AZ-500T00 Microsoft Azure Security Technologies
|Azure Solutions Architect Expert||AZ-303T00 - Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies|
AZ-304T00 - Microsoft Azure Architect Design
|Azure DevOps Engineer Expert||AZ-104T00 - Microsoft Azure Administrator|
AZ-400T00 Designing and Implementing Microsoft DevOps Solutions
|Internet of Things Cloud Practitioner||CertNexus Certified Internet of Things Practitioner (CIoTP)|
|Internet of Things Security Practitioner||CertNexus Certified Internet of Things Practitioner (CIoTP)|
CertNexus Certified Internet of Things Security Practitioner (CIoTSP) v1.0
|Scrum Agile Certified Professional||SCRUMstudy Agile Master Certified (SAMC™)|
PMI Agile Certified Professional (PMI-ACP)® Exam Preparation
Additional certification options available for:
- EC-Council | Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH 312-50); Certified Chief Information Security Officer (C|CISO); Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator (CHFI); Certified Network Defender (CND)
- (ISC)² | Chief Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP); Certified Authorization Professional (CAP); Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)
- Microsoft | Azure Security Engineer Associate
- Citrix | Certified Professional Networking (CCP-N)
Once you've chosen a certification program, your local NHDoD training expert can help you provide the necessary vendor documentation to be uploaded to AFVEC.
HOW TO START A FUNDING REQUEST FOR AF COOL?
When you log into the system and you see on the right hand side of your AFVEC screen under self-service actions, click "Start a Funding Request". If you can't find the exam center that you are looking for in the drop down menu, select the hyperlink for "Find Exam Center". Type in the first word of the location you are looking for. Leave the State as All and hit Search. Next, put in the testing window. You have 60 days before the system pings you and tells you that you need to create a funding request for your exam. You can also create your exam request and the same time you do your study material request. Just know that the exam funding request will give you 120 days that you'll be able to submit for in your window and study material gives you 60 days. So be sure to utilize all of that time frame.
AF COOL APPROVAL PROCESS
Once you've created a funding request for your AF COOL certification exam and study preparation it's going to go to your supervisor for approval. Once your supervisor approves, it comes to the CPO. If all the documentation is uploaded and good to go, and the right dates and the right goal are input and match your funding request, they will approve and send it to the purchasing agents. They will make the payment on your behalf. You will receive and email at each point of this. Do not proceed to a test or study material without receiving all three of the approval emails from supervisor, CPO, and purchasing agent.
STUDY AND TAKE EXAMS
The final step is to study and take the exams. When you take AF COOL approved certification with NHDoD you also get Test Pass Assurance. In the event a candidate fails his/her first attempt on the corresponding certification exam, a candidate can earn a Free 2nd Shot exam. However, the funding will be recouped if individuals fail to provide proof of completion of credential within 120 days. Within 180 days of separation or retirement, the credential costs must be self-funded and reimbursed after proof of completion. The full Air Force COOL program details, application procedures, eligibility requirements and AFSC listings are located on the Air Force Virtual Education Center website or on the Air Force COOL website.