A new program gives Army National Guard soldiers access to hundreds of civilian credentials.
The Army Credentialing Assistance Program allows soldiers to pursue industry-specific credentials, certifications or licensures that can make them more marketable in the civilian sector. Within the Army COOL website, users can search more than 1600 options related to their MOS or an MOS, and the portal also breaks down when a license or certification may be beneficial to an occupation — examples include commercial driver’s license (CDL), accredited financial counselor and certified welder.
Kenneth Hardy, chief of the Army National Guard’s education services branch, says this program is designed for the Guard member at any stage of a career.
“A lot of employers are looking for these types of credentials. They’re looking at them to compare applicants or promote (them),” Hardy said. “There was a fairly high unemployment rate for the soldiers that were leaving the Army, so they did their year, two years or three years, or say they’re leaving after six or 10 years, or even after retirement … they’re going to go on for another career and unfortunately all those Army skills that they have weren’t necessarily tied to a civilian occupation.”
A key talking point of the veteran employment topic has centered on a service member’s ability to translate military experience to a resume. Hardy says this program gives civilian employers a clear understanding of what the soldier is bringing to the company.
“What this does is it allows a soldier to become more marketable on the civilian side by obtaining those same credentials that civilian employers use and that they recognize on the civilian side,” he explained.
Users can choose up to two pathways total, related or unrelated to what they do for the military.
“If you’re in a combat arms MOS for the Guard, but during the week they’re an IT manager for a network or they’re working in the medical field or any other myriad of fields that have licensing or credentials, and so they can now use our program to help them in those career fields. It’s not just limited to the job they’re doing in the Army,” Hardy said.
Soldiers are allotted up to $4000 per fiscal year for tuition assistance, credentialing assistance or a combination of both. Hardy recommends meeting with an education counselor to determine the best pathway for career goals, and there are a number of assessments that soldiers have access to.
For those with credentials that may have a renewal cost, soldiers can reapply the following year for assistance with those fees.
Top 5 credentials currently pursued:
- Project management professional (PMP)
- Private pilot
- Certified personal trainer
- Certified associate project management
- Lean six sigma green belt
The application process is somewhat “clunky” at this time, Hardy adds, with soldiers having to manually fill out information about the vendor, program requirements, cost, etc. The timeline from application to approval is dependent on the program chosen.