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Air Force Senior Airman

E-4 Enlisted Airman, U.S. Air Force
(Next) E-5 SSgtAir Force Staff Sergeant
Staff Sergeant

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How to get promoted to Senior Airman History of the Air Force Senior Airman Rank

A Senior Airman is a Enlisted Airman in the United States Air Force at DoD paygrade E-4.

For a long time, the E-4 pay grade had two different ranks: senior airmen and sergeant. This is a lingering result from the split with the Army. Senior airmen were not considered a non-commissioned officer but sergeants were. However, some noticed how odd it was that two airmen of the same pay grade could have such varying duties and responsibilities. The Air Force decided to phase out the sergeant title and designate senior airman as the sole title for the pay grade E-4. As a result, the Air Force is the only service where non-commissioned officers are not found in the E-4 pay grade.

However, senior airmen that are lucky enough to attend Airman Leadership School early may supervise younger airmen but are not considered non-commissioned officers.

Want to learn more? Read about the Air Force's Senior Airman rank on

History of the Air Force

The Air Force was founded in 1947, just after WWII. It was created using most of the existing Army Air Corps that had just made significant contributions to the war effort. The Air Force is the most technological of the branches, as well as the "most business-like" (least strict). There is a general concensus in the military that quality of life for servicemembers in the Air Force is highest. Just as the Army fights land wars and the Navy fights sea wars, the Air Force was originally envisioned to fight air wars. While wars in the past 70 years couldn't be fought with aircraft alone, the age of Drones and Artificial Intelligence may cause a paradigm shift where air-only wars are possible.