Civilian Credentials and Troops in Transition
Contributed by Alan Rohlfing
We hear a lot about credentials in today’s workforce development community. While technically, it’s “a qualification, achievement, or aspect of a person’s background that indicates they are suitable for something,” for those of us transitioning from military service to a civilian job it can open a lot of doors – or better yet, keep those same doors from closing.
In the military employment assistance environment, the credentialing of Veterans and Military Service Members is a complex issue, with partners and players at every level – national, state, and local. While credentialing authorities typically remain at the national or state levels, the critical effort has often been grass-roots, with a focus on building awareness at the local level. When I was involved with the State of Missouri’s Show-Me Heroes program, we had many of those initial conversations with our Governor’s Office, our Division of Workforce Development, and our National Guard headquarters. I’d like to think that those conversations, while strategic in nature, helped lead to some of the progress we’re seeing today.
There are certain jobs and skill sets that immediately come to mind during a discussion on credentialing. Jobs in the healthcare industry, law enforcement, or transportation might be considered the low-hanging fruit to some that are in this Veteran employment assistance space, but there are so many more potential options with regard to credentialing. Not only do some fields require credentials to legally perform certain jobs, but they can also serve to ‘amp up’ your resume and communicate to prospective employers that you’re among the most qualified for the job.
All branches of the U.S. Armed Forces offer some kind of credentialing or certification program for its Service Members; in no particular order, here are a few connections for you to explore:
Army COOL (Credentialing Opportunities On-Line). A tool to help Soldiers find details on certifications and licenses related to their military jobs and potential civilian careers, you can use Army COOL to get information on credentials related to an Army Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), Civilian Occupational Pathways, potential gaps between Army training and civilian credentialing, and resources available to help fill those gaps. Check it out at cool.army.mil.
Navy & Marine Corps COOL. Although it sounds the same, the Department of the Navy’s (DON) credentialing resource site has a whole different feel; their website “represents the joint effort, close coordination, and shared resources that support the Navy and Marine Corps COOL programs.” For their ongoing commitment to Sailors, Marines, and DON Civilians, visit www.cool.navy.mil.
Air Force COOL. A Total Force enlisted program, the Air Force’s credentialing resource includes all enlisted AFSCs for active duty, the Air Force Reserve, and the Air National Guard. AF COOL is a one-stop shop for Airmen to explore credentials recognized by the civilian community; find more information at Air Force Virtual Education Center.
Coast Guard Certification Programs. Although the Coast Guard doesn’t offer COOL or organic online certification tools, it does encourage its Service Members to take advantage of certification finders sponsored by the Department of Labor, such as CareerOneStop (www.careeronestop.org/toolkit/training/find-certifications.aspx) and O-Net Online (www.onetonline.org/crosswalk).
Your path to picking up some well-deserved credentials may lead you to classroom training or online testing. There may be options to pick those up on the military’s dime while you’re still serving or by using your GI Bill benefits. Either way, hopefully it will help by making for a smoother transition or by making you more competitive in the search for your next job, so take a closer look at whatever tools you might have at your disposal.
Until next time…