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Frequently Asked Questions

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 Certification and Career Development

Can a job be restricted based upon the employee having IA certification?

Not at this time. In the future, certain IACF positions may carry IA Certification requirements.

Can any of the training requirements be waived?

No, the training requirements are all critical elements of the program and will not be waived, including the leadership training, regardless of the applicant's experience.

Can contractors apply for certification?

No, certifications may be conferred upon U.S. Government employees only. Contractor or other officials may take courses that contribute to this program. Please read DSCA Contractor Certification Guidance (PDF).

Can military personnel apply for certification?

Yes, military personnel are encouraged to apply for certification.

Can the experience requirement be waived?

No, experience is a critical element of the program and will not be waived.

Do you have to be Level I certified before applying for Level II Certification?

No, when applying, an individual should apply to the highest level of certification for which they qualify.

Does everyone have to attend the International Programs Security Training to receive IA certification? Are there any previous courses that count as the equivalent?

It is a requirement for certification at any level that individuals attend one of the following courses to satisfy the International Programs Security Requirement Course training requirement:

  • Defense Institute for Security Cooperation Studies (DISCS) courses
    • IPSR-3 days
    • IPSR-OL (on-line course)
    • IPSR-2 days (offered before December 2005)
    • IPSR-5 days (offered before December 2005)
    • SCM-CONUS (if completed after October 2000)
    • SCM-Overseas (if completed after October 2000)

  • Defense Acquisition University (DAU) course PMT 203 International Security and Technology Transfer

Does IA certification impact certification received in current career program(s)?

No, IA certification is a stand-alone program targeted specifically at the IA community.

Have specific courses been identified to meet the training requirements associated with the three levels of certification?

Specific international courses have been identified and are listed in the requirements. Since so many varying courses can meet the functional training requirements, specific courses have not been documented. Rather, the applicant should review the training standards based on his/her own functional area.

If you have questions about the eligibility of specific courses or would like assistance identifying appropriate courses, please contact the Air Force Administrator at

If an employee has already submitted an application and received certification Level (I or II) and would like to submit an application to obtain the next Level (II or III), do they need to resubmit the entire package (with all attached paperwork, certifications, career brief, etc..) or a modified version of the original package?

All applicants must submit a complete application for each request for certification including all necessary documentation and signatures.

What does IA certification do for your career?

IA certification is a way that all members of the IA community can differentiate themselves from others and demonstrate their commitment to international affairs. For civilians, IA certification will be documented on your individual career brief. Some specific positions may be identified as requiring certification.

What is the Foreign Area Officer Program (SAF/IA)? How does it relate to the International Affairs Certification Program, if at all?

Information about the FAO Program is located at This program is not directly related to the International Affairs Certification Program; however, the programs do have some similarities and benefits for the workforce.

What is the status of coding IA Certification on Civilian Career Briefs?

All civilian candidates earning a certification should use the Self-Service applications available in the Defense Civilian Personnel Data System (DCPDS) via MyBiz. Changes will immediately update the personnel record and be reflected on Civilian Career Briefs the next day. For more information on using MyBiz, please click here.

You should enter the following codes in the "Certification and Licenses" section of the Career Brief:
  • IA1 for Level I
  • IA2 for Level II
  • IA3 for Level II

What type of documentation is required to back up the IA certification application?

Documentation submitted must clearly justify the application. Example supporting documents include items such as copies of diplomas, career briefs, etc. We highly recommend that all applications include a Civilian Career Brief or Military SURF.

What will the organization, individual, and the Air Force gain under IACF?

The development of IACF provides numerous benefits for the Air Force IA community. IACF will leverage the existing Air Force career field model and provide deliberate training and education resources to develop IA professionals. From and individual perspective, IACF will deliver a flexible career development path, increased opportunity for challenging work experiences, and timely, appropriate training and education. Furthermore, IACF will ensure that the Air Force IA community has a cadre of highly trained civilian personnel to execute the future IA mission.

Who will fund the training required for IA certification?

There is no additional funding available specifically for this certification. Required training for IA certification will come from current organization training funds.
 Graduate Studies

GMAP program on hold until further notice.

 International Affairs Career Field

What is IACF?

The IACF is designed to corporately manage IA positions and systematically sustain and develop the IA community into the future. The IACF ensures our ability to recruit, educate, train, and retain a superior team capable of meeting the challenges of the dynamic global security environment.

What is the timeline for implementation?

IACF began initial operations in March 2006. The first task during initial operations entailed the placement of an IA Career Program Administrator at the Air Force Personnel Center, Directorate of Civilian Force Management. The IACF officially launched in October 2007.

What will change under IACF?

IACF corporately manages IA positions. This ensures that as a community we place the right people, with the right technical and leadership skills, in the right positions to support IA. IACF incorporates defined development requirements such as Civilian Development Education and the International Affairs Certification Program. IACF also fosters career mobility between IACF and other career fields, offers career broadening designed to provide a broad IA experience, encourages mentoring to the IA workforce to prepare them for the increased responsibilities they will assume as they progress in their careers, and provides the IA community access to a pool of talented IA professionals through the Palace Acquire intern recruitment program.

What will not change under IACF?

IACF will not change our ability to create, advocate, and implement United States Air Force policies and programs to support US national security objectives. However, having the career field in place allows us to better manage the IA workforce and ensure that we are collectively prepared to meet future mission requirements.

Why did the Air Force establish the IACF?

Civilian Force Development requires that career fields account for the entire civilian workforce. In June 2004, the Force Development council recognized the IA workforce as a specialized community and mandated the creation of an International Affairs Career Field. In addition to Air Force transformation efforts, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) directed the implementation of a number of workforce initiatives beginning in November 2001. These initiatives include the establishment of an IA certification program, opportunities for military and civilian personnel to earn an advanced degree in international affairs, and introduction of interns into the IA workforce.

SAF/IA implemented DSCA's directives in coordination with the Air Force personnel community to ensure that IA activities remain integrated with the Total Force Development concept.
 Mentorship Program

Can I participate in this program if I am not a SAF/IA employee?

At this time, the SAF/IA Mentorship Program is available to SAF/IA civilian and military personnel only.

What is the role of supervisors in the SAF/IA Mentorship program? What is the relationship between my mentor and my supervisor?

Many supervisors are also effective mentors. In the SAF/IA Mentorship Program, the mentor is not in the direct line of supervision of the mentee. We believe that supervisors and mentors play different, yet complementary roles in the professional development of the mentee. Keeping the mentor and supervisor roles separate, encourages confidential communication with in the confines of the mentoring relationship. Those involved in the mentoring relationship should understand and respect these differences to avoid possible conflict and confusion.

Role of the Mentor

The mentor's focus should be on the needs and career goals of the mentee. The mentor should not communicate with the mentee's supervisor on behalf of the mentee, but may encourage effective communication/interaction between the mentee and the supervisor on the progress of the mentorship relationship.   

Role of the Supervisor

The supervisor motivates, coaches, and assesses the job performance of the mentee.  Although the supervisor is also responsible and accountable for the mentee's professional and career development, the supervisor/mentee relationship tends to be more organizationally focused rather than mentee focused. 

If you want to become a mentor in this program, please complete a Mentor Application (PDF).