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Continuing Education Programs and Certifications

In today’s world it is imperative for all workers to continue updating their skills and expanding their job knowledge and expertise. Technology is responsible for the rapid pace at which our jobs evolve making continuing education a lifelong process.


The workforce expects all workers to continue their education. It makes no difference if you have a high school diploma or a PhD. All workers in every conceivable job must continually update their knowledge and skills in order to remain productive…and employed. Those who think they have arrived because they hold a college degree and no longer need to continue their education are living in a dream world. Job requirements change and workers must grow with this change.

Where do you start? The short answer is to continue where you left off in the military or in your pre-military civilian life. If you have a high school degree, aim for the next level, an AA degree from a community college or a BA from a four-year college or university. If you have a BA, consider moving on towards a MA. If you have a MA consider working on a PhD or professional degree. All the data indicate that the higher your level of education, the more money you will make, and the greater your job security will be.

What if you are not inclined to pursue formal college level education? That is understandable because college courses are not for everyone. If that is where you are, pursue training programs for jobs in a market niche that offers continual opportunities.  Many veterans will find these opportunities in the skilled trades.

Working in the Skilled Trades

Jobs in the skilled trades are plentiful in the three major survival industries; food, shelter, clothing. Let’s focus on the shelter industry. If you want to pursue a career in one of the home/commercial trades, one option is to focus on heating and air conditioning systems by taking a HVACR certified training program. You will find HVACR training schools by going on line and Googling, “HVACR training.” Your chances of finding employment in this field with a reputable contractor will be greatly enhanced if you have training and certification.

The Construction Trades. The same applies for those seeking employment in other building trades: plumber, electrician, painter, bricklayer, mason, boilermaker, plasterer, carpenter, roofer, ironworker, wood flooring/carpet installer, etc. All are noble career paths and if this is where your interest lies, go for it. Even veterans who have military experience in one of these trades should seek civilian training and certification because it will increase your chances of finding work with a reputable employer.

You will find brick and mortar trade schools and online courses in every area across the country. Just Google “trade and training schools”, and add your area of interest. The trades offer incredible opportunities for satisfying lifetime employment. Ask any carpenter who worked on a $2 million home what the rewards are in addition to money and the response will be something like this, “Pride in creating something functional and beautiful and knowing there’s a little piece of me standing there.”

Transportation Jobs. These jobs are in demand by companies both large and small  and veterans with military transportation experience have an advantage. For example, I noted a Walmart posting for truck drivers that carried a base salary of $75,000 plus excellent benefits. Other  large corporations, like Lowes are also military friendly, they pay similar wages to their transportation workers. However, you do not just walk into a company and expect to find a job with an ordinary driver’s license.

Working in the commercial transportation business requires completion of tests for certification and a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, is a useful destination for learning about the various types of certification required for driving commercial vehicles of all types. Check out the website, www.FMCSA.gov [1], to learn about all of the rules and regs governing this line of work.

Apprenticeship Programs

Another approach to finding the right training program is to contact trade unions in your area to explore apprenticeship programs. Several years in an apprenticeship program taking classroom courses and working with a master-level worker almost guarantees a full time, high paying job in a particular skilled trade. Make no mistake about it, though. You must put in your time to reap the reward you are seeking, a career job that will make you self-sufficient.

Sources of Information for the Skilled Trades

Where do you go to learn more? Here are some online sources to get you started.

The Registered Apprenticeship Program

The Registered Apprenticeship system has been utilized to meet the needs of America’s skilled workforce for over 75 years. It is a unique, flexible training system that combines job related technical instruction with structured on-the-job learning experiences. Registered Apprenticeship is a leader in preparing American workers to compete in a global 21st Century economy because the system keeps pace with advancing technologies and innovations in training and human resource development.

The Registered Apprenticeship system is designed for workers seeking high-skilled, high- paying jobs, and for employers seeking to build a qualified workforce. In this regard, the Registered Apprenticeship system effectively meets the needs of both employers and workers.

Registered Apprenticeship is active not only in traditional industries such as construction and manufacturing, but also it is instrumental in the development of fast growing industries such as healthcare, energy, and security. The program has trained more than 130,000 apprentices each year. It is an effective program and veterans so-inclined should review this site for exciting job opportunities. It is there for the asking. Don’t pass it up.

In addition, this program offers special opportunities for veterans under the Post Nine-Eleven GI Bill Apprenticeship Program, which offers many attractive benefits like allowances for housing.


Veterans who chose to work toward a BA, MA or PhD will find much support from military friendly colleges and universities and from professional schools like Fordham Law School in New York City and The Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, OH.

There is an interesting body of data regarding college graduates. For example, only 35 percent of the US population of 320 million men and women has a college degree. The unemployment rate for those holding a BA or higher is always lower than it is for those without a college degree. In addition, over a lifetime of work, college grads generate total income that is higher than the non-degreed population.

However, it is not all good news for those with a college degree, particularly recent college grads. During the past five years, over 65% of recent college graduates have not found a job nine months after receiving their diplomas.  The reason is that most college grads have no experience with the adult world of work and have no idea about how the job hunting process works.

Strategies for Pursuing a College Degree

Here are a number of strategies to insure that your college experience will be a productive venture and lead to a productive job opportunity.

  1. Pursue a college major aligned with your interests and abilities. If your interest is teaching, pursue a degree in education. If business is your thing, major in business administration or finance. If you wish to pursue a degree in science or technology select one of the STEM majors; science, technology, engineering, mathematics.
  1. If you are not yet sure where your true interests lie, pursue an Associate’s degree at a community college. Here you will learn about many academic disciplines. Surely, one of them will appeal to your interests.
  1. Avoid going into debt. Going to college with financial help from a student loan or veteran’s loan has an inevitable consequence; you will be obligated to repay all or some of that loan after graduating. There are many government tuition reimbursement plans available for veterans. Take advantage of all of them before tapping into the student loan program.
  1. Begin your job search as soon as you enroll in a college degree program. Many students wait until they graduate to begin job hunting. However, job hunting is a continuing operation, which should begin immediately. You cannot expect to walk away with your diploma one fine day and have a job the next. It does not work that way. I suggest that the first resource to explore in your beginning year is my book titled, WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD, A [7] Complete to Job Hunting for the Recent College Grad [7]. The book provides career education and job hunting rubrics.
  1. State colleges and universities offer academic programs on par with private institutions. The value of attending an undergraduate Ivy League school (or similar) has been greatly exaggerated.  For a ranking of the colleges and universities across the country, consult US News and World Report, www.usnews.com/best-colleges [8]. The annual rankings include tuition costs and other useful data.
  1.  Explore the Military Friendly list of colleges and universities, which you can find online at www.militaryfriendly.com/school-list [9].  These colleges and professional schools offer preferential terms for veterans.


Written certifications frequently are required to work in the skilled trades and in corporate jobs. Whatever your specialty is, or whatever you are aspiring to become, go online and Google that specialty and add “certifications.” For example, enter “bus driver certifications,” or “physical therapy certifications.” You will find nonprofit and for profit organizations that offer various certification for your field of interest.

Many corporate level management positions now require Project Management Professional Certification (PMP). This important certification is offered through the Project Management Institute (PMI). For details go to the PMI website: www.PMI.org [10].

Also, the VA offers reimbursement for certifications tests and licensing for veterans. Check it out at www.benefits.VA.gov [11].  In addition Google “certifications for military veterans” and you will find many online and bricks-and-mortar facilities offering free or low cost certification programs.


The security industry is growing exponentially and welcomes military veteran candidates. The range of jobs seems to have no end as security firms and government agencies struggle to meet the demand, particularly in cyber security. Some security jobs are highly visible, like TSA workers at airports, but most others work behind the scene. Here are several of our favorites.

Raytheon,www.raytheon.com [12]. This American icon is noted for development and manufacture of weapons like the Tomahawk Cruise Missile and other defensive systems. However, it has a division know as Raytheon Cyber, www.raytheoncyber.com [13]. When you go to the website click on “Working with Us” and then click on “Veterans.”  It has no less than twenty-one separate engineering and business divisions offering entry level and highly specialized positions for veterans. The firm is located in the Boston area but has facilities throughout the U.S. and abroad. Raytheon is noted for its veteran friendly culture.

Caveonwww.caveon.com [14]. This company, headquartered in Midvale Utah, specializes in preventing cheating on academic and corporate examinations. Among its many clients are: College Board; Atlanta Public Schools; HP, IBM, Microsoft and a host of others. Caveon does not advertise its open positions so you must complete and submit a form to get on their list for notification of openings. However, I know from my recruiting experience that there are jobs available there, frequently. I suggest that you send your resume and a cover letter directly to the founder, CEO and Chairman, Dr. David Foster. For best results, send these items by FedEx or UPS rather than by email.

National Security Agency (NSA),www.nsa.gov [15]. NSA is a part of the U.S. Department of Defense and as such offers a wealth of job opportunities spanning a multitude of operations. Needless to say, NSA welcomes military veterans.  This is a comprehensive website with much to explore.  Begin, by going to the website and clicking on Careers and Programs. Then click on the link, www.IntelligenceCareers.gov/nsa [16] , where you will find a wealth of information. On that site, click on Careers and go from there. Note, too, the virtual job fair listings.

National Law Enforcement Jobs with the Federal Government.  The federal government employs several hundred thousand in law enforcement and security jobs. Homeland Security [17] is the third largest federal department, employing over 154,000 federal workers. Federal law enforcement jobs [18] are abundant and available nationwide.

There is a protocol that must be followed exactly when applying for government jobs. The best resource to keep you on track is a book by Dennis Damp, The Book of U.S. Government Jobs, listed below. Be sure to review Chapter Seven, Veterans and Military Dependent Hiring.


Veteran’s Resources

Dennis V. Damp. The Book of U.S. Government Jobs. Bookhaven Press. 2011.
John Henry Weiss. OPERATION JOB SEARCH; A Guide for Military Veterans Transitioning to Civilian Careers. Skyhorse Publishing Inc., 2016.
John Henry Weiss. WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD; A Complete Guide to Job Hunting for the Recent College Grad. Skyhorse Publishing Inc., 2014.
Federal Government Jobs. www.federaljobs.net [19]. This is your most comprehensive site for information about jobs with the federal government.
University of Maryland and University College,  www.umuc.edu/cybersecurity [20].  Review this site for information about online certifications and BA degrees in cyber security.


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The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

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