Air Force COOL program kicks off Published March 20, 2015 By Senior Airman William J. Blankenship 42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFNS) -- The Community College of the Air Force officially launched the Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-Line program March 16. Air Force COOL is a pathway for enlisted Airmen to earn industry recognized professional certifications and licenses to enhance their active-duty work and to prepare them as they transition to the civilian job market after they leave the service. CCAF manages the program, which is similar to the Army and Navy's programs. Found on the Air Force Portal, Air Force COOL has a credential mapping of 642 professional certifications and licenses for 190 enlisted Air Force specialty codes. The credentials are at the national and state levels and from industry. Airmen should prepare themselves at least six years before retiring and as soon as possible after they decide to separate, said J. R. Breeding, the associate dean for academic programs at CCAF. "You can have all of your time-in-service experience and have earned a master's degree, but if you don't have that certification, you probably aren't going to get an interview," Breeding said. "It is that whole-person concept that needs to be factored in for the force development of our Airmen. Attending the Transition Assistance Program is not the time to get ready to retire or separate. It is too late at that point, given the length of time it takes to complete these certifications." Using Air Force COOL to get a job-related certification or license makes an Airman just as, if not more, competitive in the job market as their civilian peers, said Russell Gray, the program manager of Air Force COOL . "This program is designed to allow Airmen to take what they've learned in the military and place it up against what their counterparts are learning in the civilian sector. It can fill that gap," Gray said. "The job you apply for may not be exactly the same as the one you did in uniform, but there are things you learned doing that job that can translate into tools that can be used once you hang up the uniform." Complete Air Force COOL program details, application procedures, eligibility requirements and AFSC listings are located on the Air Force Portal or by clicking here.