Since 1991, the Staff Sergeant (E-5) has been the first rung on the Air Force’s noncommissioned officer ladder, making it the only one of the five Armed Forces of the United States to not have a noncommissioned officer in the E-4 rating. This was not the first time that Staff Sergeant had been the entry-level NCO position in the Air Force: the service had eliminated the E-4 rate of Sergeant in 1952 and had not revived it until 1967.

To qualify for advancement to E-5 Staff Sergeant, Senior Airman must have logged three years Time-in-Service, six months in the E-4 grade, and have earned a 5 on the Air Force Skill Level rating (possible scores are 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9, with 9 the maximum). Senior Airmen chosen for promotion to Staff Sergeants are required to attend Airman Leadership School, were they will be taught both leadership skills and administrative duties incumbent with their new pay grade.
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Embroidered Staff Sergeant rank insignias are worn on a variety of utility uniforms and outerwear garments and is available in two patterns, the ABU (Airman Battle Uniform) and OCP, or Operational Camouflage Pattern (note that insignias for certain garments like the Sage Green Fleece are classified as “ABU” but have a solid background rather than a camo pattern).

Both OCP and ABU embroidered rank insignias are available in three attachment styles you may choose from in the selection box to right—sew-on, hook and loop (Rank with Velcro), and slip-on (Gortex loop). When making selections for the OCP coat insignia, note that the attachment style must be the same as the style used for the nametape and USAF tape.

Introduced in October 2018 as the successor to the ABU, the OCP utility uniform replaced the ABU’s system of different insignia placement for Officers (collars) and Enlisted Airmen (shoulders); all personnel wear their rank insignia on the chest of the OCP. Customers who need the sew-on ABU Staff Sergeant shoulder rank insignia can purchase them by visiting our USAF Chevrons page. The ABU is currently being phased out and has a mandatory wear-out date of 31 March 2021.

OCP CoatRank with Velcro, OCP
Sew-on, OCP
ABU Coat (Officer)Sew-on, ABU
ABU Coat (Enlisted)Shoulder chevrons (go)
OCP Patrol Cap (Officers)Sew-on, OCP
ABU Patrol Cap (Officers)Sew-on, ABU
APECSGortex Loop, ABU
Improved Rain SuitGortex Loop, ABU
Sage Green FleeceRank with Velcro, ABU
Coyote Brown FleeceRank with Velcro, ABU
Woodland Gore-Tex JacketGortex Loop, OCP
ECWCSGortex Loop, OCP

About us

As a certified manufacturer of uniforms and insignia, The Salute Uniforms considers it a privilege to provide the members of our nation’s military services with superior-quality apparel and accoutrements. We guarantee that every product we offer is made in the USA and meets or surpasses Mil-Spec standards. Browse our online catalog and discover how our tradition of excellence and commitment to innovation makes us your best source for military uniforms, insignias, medals, and accessories.


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Salute Industries Inc, proud maker of The Salute Uniforms.
105 Apache Drive, Archdale, NC, 27263.