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A Senior Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force is a senior non-commissioned officer in the pay grade of E-8. A Senior Master Sergeant serves as a liaison between lower enlisted troops and commanding officers, passing down orders from higher authority, and handling personnel issues so the commander doesn't have to. Senior Master Sergeants are also operational leaders, highly skilled in their AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code, or career field). To be promoted to Senior Master Sergeant, a Master Sergeant must have completed the Air Force Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Academy, either in-residence (for all components of the Air Force), or by correspondence (available to Air National Guard senior NCOs only). The SNCO must also have 20 months time in grade as a Master Sergeant, and at least eleven years total time in service to promote to Senior Master Sergeant.