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What is the Contracting COPPER CAP Program?

The COPPER CAP Program is designed to prepare college graduates for careers as Air Force Civilian Service (AFCS) Contract Specialists. Contract Specialist trainees are assigned to work with professional Contracting Officers and receive formal and on-the-job training in all aspects of contract management, including requirements definition, solicitation preparation, price justification, negotiation and award, and administration of contracts. Learn more about the Contracting Career Field at AFCS here.

Our Contract Specialists are at the heart of the complex process of satisfying United States Air Force requirements for everything from satellites, electronics, and high-performance aircraft to supplies and services necessary for the day-to-day operation of military installations around the world. Throughout the process, contracting personnel must ensure procedures are followed which reflect the proper interpretation of a myriad of laws and regulations capable of withstanding the scrutiny of the Federal Courts, the General Accounting Office (GAO), the United States Congress, and the American public.


Basic Qualifications

An applicant must be a U.S. citizen with a bachelor's degree and 24 semester hours of business-related courses in any combination of the following fields: accounting, business, finance, law, contracts, purchasing, economics, industrial management, marketing, quantitative methods, or organization and management.

Additional Requirements

In addition to the positive education requirements, one of the following conditions must be met:

  • GPA of 2.95 (or better) overall or in last two years
  • GPA of 3.45 (or better) in major overall or in last two years
  • Class ranking in upper 1/3 of graduating class in the college, university, or major subdivision (i.e., School of Business, class rank letter must be signed by Registrar or Dean)
  • Membership in a National Scholastic Honor Society (excluding freshman year)
  • One full year of graduate level study
  • A Master’s or higher degree, e.g. LL.B., J.D., L L.M., Ph.D, in a field that provides the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to do the work
  • An equivalent combination of graduate education as described above and specialized experience which, when combined, would equate to 100%
  • One full year of directly-related specialized experience equivalent to the GS-5 level. If ungraded hours exceed 10 percent, GPA cannot be used.

Job Duties

In the COPPER CAP formal training program, you will perform developmental assignments and complete formal, informal, and/or on-the-job training in the Contract Specialist (1102) occupation. You will serve as a Contract Specialist in a developmental capacity in order to acquire the competencies required to develop and recommend acquisition and sourcing strategies for supplies and services. Working closely with a journeyman level Contract Specialist, you will learn to solicit, evaluate, negotiate, and recommend awards of procurement; analyze and evaluate cost or price proposals; administer contracts ensuring compliance with terms and conditions; and develop and recommend business solutions to day-to-day contractual challenges. Special projects will be assigned to you in accordance with the formal Training Plan, along with other assignments of similar or gradual difficulty, in order to develop the skills necessary for advancement to the target grade.

Recommended Skills

  • Exceptional oral communication skills are a must. You should be able to orally disseminate information to individuals or groups, effectively taking into account the audience and nature of the information.
  • You should also possess strong written communications skills, so as to effectively produce documents in a clear, concise, and succinct manner.
  • You must be a quick learner. The ability to understand, evaluate, and apply technical information acquired through formal training or extensive on-the-job experience will be critical to your ability to perform standard procurement tasks for the award and management of contractual actions.
  • Problem-solving skills are also key. You should be able to solve practical problems by choosing appropriately from a variety of mathematical and statistical techniques.
  • You will need to demonstrate critical thinking skills, including the ability to recognize and analyze issues, conduct research, summarize results, and use sound business judgment to generate and evaluate alternatives and make recommendations.

Career Progression

Entry-Level is GS-7 (or equivalent). The COPPER CAP Program offers a 3-4 year formal training plan with annual promotion opportunity based upon meeting time-in-grade requirements, successful performance, and supervisory approval at each grade level. Progression is to the GS-11 or GS-12 (or equivalent) levels at the end of the training program. Candidates having a master’s degree are eligible to apply for the GS-9 target GS-12 positions, which consist of a 3-year training program.

How to Apply

There are three ways to apply for this program:

  • By responding to an open vacancy announcement that is posted on the website. The announcement will be an opportunity to apply for COPPER CAP positions electronically. The details on how to apply for the available positions will be specified in the announcement.
  • By attending an on-campus interview session (during fall and spring semesters) at a university where we are recruiting: On-campus recruiting efforts generally begin in October of each year for all other positions. Participation in an on-campus interview during the fall and spring recruitment period is required.
  • By applying for noncompetitive appointment through the Schedule A (5 CFR 213.3102(u)) Hiring Authority for persons with Intellectual Disabilities, Severe Physical Disabilities, and Psychiatric Disabilities. Eligible candidates are those who have documentation about their disability and their job readiness from a licensed medical professional; a licensed vocational rehabilitation specialist; or any Federal, state, or Washington, DC agency that provides disability benefits.

Contact Information

Mailing Address

Joint Base San Antonio 78150
(JBSA Randolph Texas 78150)


Toll Free: 800-847-0108, #4
Commercial: 210-565-0033
FAX: 210-565-1957