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A Staff Sergeant, abbreviated as SSgt, is a Non-Commissioned Officer in the United States Air Force in the pay grade of E-5. Staff Sergeants occupy the first of the NCO ranks, and are making the transition from airman to NCO. Staff Sergeants begin to take on additional duties and responsibilities, and are expected to become technical experts in their chosen AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code, or career field). Staff Sergeants must also be willing to accept extra duties and responsibilities, and be self-starters and self-motivated. Staff Sergeants should also strive to further their education, both on and off-duty. To be promoted to Staff Sergeant, an airman must have three total years of military service, and six months time in grade as a Senior Airman (E-4). The airman must also have obtained a 5 skill level in their AFSC. In addition, the airman must complete ALS (Airman Leadership School), prior to promotion to Staff Sergeant, or shortly thereafter.