Air Force COOL Program: Credentialing Opportunities 

AF COOL stands for Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-line. It is a program that gives Air and Space Professionals an allotment of $4500 over the course of their career to get a professional certifications. 

This is a great benefit offered to the total force by the Department of Defense. It can help you with future planning and set you up for success in your civilian life. 

The Air Force and Space Force use AF COOL, other branches of the military use DOD COOL.


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What is the AF COOL Program? 

The AF Credentialing Opportunities On-Line program is an opportunity for Airmen and Guardians $4500 over their entire military career to obtain a professional license or certifications. Many times, the license or certification awarded will be directly related to enlisted AFSCs. As you progress in rank, more opportunities open up like management credentials. 

You can find the approved AF COOL Program credentials on the AFVEC Air Force Cool website.

Who can apply for the AF COOL Program?

To apply for the AF COOL Program you must meet to following eligibility requirements.

  • Possess your 5-skill level in your AFSC
  • Not be on a UIF or Control Roster
  • Be current on your most recent Fitness Test
  • Have an AFVEC profile with an approved COOL goal
  • Obtain approval from your supervisor and complete it while on Active Duty Orders

Members of the Air National Guard are only eligible in certain situations. ANG members are eligible as long as they are activated and they meet the above criteria. Make sure your active duty orders are uploaded as supporting documentation to your educational goal and funding request.

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How do you apply for the AF COOL Program?

The first step is to explore all of the approved AF COOL Credentials on the AFVEC website. Select one that will benefit your own career goals and professional development. If you have an idea of some of the career fields you may be interested in working in, maybe select one that would get you certified.

Next, create an educational goal in the Air Force Virtual Education Center. Make sure you provide all supporting documentation necessary to have your goal approved by the AF COOL managers.

After you have a goal approved, you’ll need to apply for AF COOL funding on the AFVEC website. This is similar to applying for funding for tuition assistance. At a minimum, you’ll need to know where the exam center is, the cost of the exam, and when you’ll test for your credentials. To make it easy, submit your funding request 60 days out from your start date but no later than 30 days out from your start date. 

After supervisor approval of your funding request, the AF COOL office will make the payment on your behalf. Stay in touch with the training provider or company and make sure they receive payment. 

All there is left to do is to study, go to the class, and take the exams to receive your certification. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you maintain all of your exam scores, licenses, and documentation associated with your program. Attach these documents as supporting documents to your funding request and education goal. Make sure you do this even if you do not pass your exams because you could be responsible for paying back the cost of the certification if you do not upload all of the supporting documentation. After your supporting documentation is attached email the AF COOL office at for them to close out your funding request and COOL goal. 

Fighter Aircraft Maintenance

Where can you use the AF COOL Program? 

You can use the AF COOL program on any credential or license that has been approved for AFCOOL. Typically these related credentials will be depend on your primary AFSC. For example, I am in Aircraft Maintenance and I used AF COOL to obtain my Airframe and Powerplant Certification. As you reach E-7, more leadership focused credentials become available like the Project Management Professional course. 

You can use the AF COOL program to pay for a prep course or also know as “boot camps”, study material, and exam fees. You can get permissive TDY approved through LeaveWeb to go to a specific location to receive your certification, but AF COOL will NOT pay for airfare, lodging, or food. 

If your credential requires a recurring recertification, recertification fees can be paid for by AFCOOL as long as you are under the $4500 lifetime cap. 

Why would you use the AF COOL Program? 

The military will not be forever. There comes a time in everyone’s career where they separate from the military and head to the civilian sector whether that be through a retirement or a standard separation. At that point, you’ll need all of the credentials and licenses necessary to jumpstart your civilian career. If you transition out of the military with minimum certifications or college experience, you can expect to land an entry level job. If you come out of the military certified, you can get a civilian employment position that is suitable for the time and experience that you’ve put in through your years of hard work and military service. Consider using the Skillbridge program to help bridge the gap to your future civilian career.

The AF COOL program is a great way to boost your resume and should be considered by everyone. The AF COOL Handbook by Air University should provide answers to any questions you may have. Also, make sure that reach out to your education center on your base. They should have an AF COOL program office to help you through the process if needed.

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