It is never too late or too early to prepare for transition from the military to civilian life. Many civilian jobs have certain professional and technical standards. Obtaining credentials – certifications and licenses – shows that a person meets these standards. For example, a welder can show his/her welding certifications to an employer to document that (s)he has specific skills and knowledge. In the civilian world, credentials may be required for a job, or can increase the likelihood of being hired.
Service members, military families and veterans face unique challenges in obtaining credentials for the civilian labor market. Despite having valuable training and experience, transitioning military members and veterans frequently find it difficult to obtain formal private sector recognition of their military training, experiences, and skill sets through civilian certification and licensure. This also makes it complicated for the private sector to capitalize on the resources and time dedicated to training and educating Service members. Moreover, frequent moves combined with different requirements for occupational licenses across state lines can make it challenging and costly for spouses of active duty military to find a job.
The White House, DoD, and the military Services have taken unique approaches to working with the private sector and licensing organizations to create credentialing opportunities for Service members and their spouses. These initiatives ensure that separating active duty Service members, military spouses, and veterans can earn civilian occupational credentials and licenses to help them qualify for civilian employment.
Learn more about the top official programs for certifications and licensure for military and their family members below:
The Department of Defense (DoD) SkillBridge Voluntary Employment Skills Training Program connects civilian businesses and companies with available training or internship opportunities that offer a high probability of employment with military members who are separating. These services are provided at little or no cost to the Service member. Those who meet certain qualifications, with command approval, can participate in civilian job and employment skills training, including apprenticeships and internships, up to six months prior to separation. Participants can earn credentials in high-wage, high demand occupations from companies with training opportunities vetted by DoD. To find out more about eligibility requirements and available training opportunities, visit the web portal located at www.dodskillbridge.com.
For current military members, credentialing has two purposes. First, it continues to professionalize the military force by providing up-to-date industry-recognized credentials in a Service member’s occupational field. Second, it provides a way for military members to prepare for civilian life by ensuring that they are ready for work in the civilian sector. Each military Service has developed a COOL program that offers a variety of information about credentialing and licensing. Each Service COOL site can be used to:
- Get background information about civilian licensure and certification in general and specific information on individual credentials including eligibility requirements and resources to prepare for an exam.
- Identify licenses and certifications relevant to military occupational areas or specialties
- Learn how to fill gaps between military training and experience and civilian credentialing requirements.
- Learn about resources available to military members that can help them gain civilian job credentials.
To learn more about each Service’s COOL program, visit the program websites below.
For eligible personnel, the GI Bill may offer reimbursement for exams taken while obtaining certification. By certification, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is referring to the certification received by taking and passing a specific test for a field of employment, and NOT the certificate obtained for completing training. There is no limit to the number of license or certification tests eligible participants may take, or number of times they may take the same test. The VA will pay for test costs up to $2,000 for each test. Fees connected with obtaining a license or certification are NOT reimbursable. Find out how using the GI Bill for certifications will change benefits, applying for reimbursement, or searching for approved tests online, visit http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/licensing_certification.asp
The My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) Scholarship Program is a DoD-sponsored initiative that provides up to $4,000 of financial assistance to eligible military spouses who are pursuing a license, certification or Associate’s degree in a portable career field and occupation. Learn more about eligibility, what costs the funding will cover, and how to apply by visiting https://aiportal.acc.af.mil/mycaa/
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