4 Huge Reasons IT Certifications Can Mean Better Jobs for Veterans
Returning to school after serving in the military is a challenging, but rewarding, step forward in your career. After dedicating their lives to secure our nation, veterans returning to civilian life could build a more secure financial future. But how? The key just may be taking coursework that helps them land excellent positions at high pay. The coursework may not lead to a degree, but with the right IT certification, veterans working in information technology are better able to leverage their military experience into good jobs for four very good reasons.
1. Security Clearance
As a veteran, you already underwent some security checks. Depending on the work you performed for Uncle Sam, you may have been vetted by the FBI, the CIA, or the NSA.
The Human Resource Association of the National Capital Area (HRA-NCA) tells us that cleared employees get larger paychecks than their counterparts:
- Secret clearance—Earn 5.8 percent more on average than an employee without clearance
- Top Secret clearance—Earn 12.8 percent more
- Top Secret “Special Access Program” clearance—Earn 14.9 percent more than an employee lacking clearance
Your job in the military may have already instilled in you the good work habits of compartmentalizing, keeping information confidential, and practicing good security routines. Employers value—and are willing to pay for—these skills, especially in the competitive world of information technology.
2. Free or Low-Cost Education
Compare the costs paid by civilians to attend IT certification programs to the potential cost to a veteran: $0. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched two initiatives recently to help funnel veterans into rewarding IT careers:
- Accelerated Learning Programs (ALPs)—The pilot program featured seven IT-related courses
- VA Learning Hubs—Launched in August of 2015, the 27 cities with VA Learning Hubs provide online and in-person educational opportunities for veterans
Neither program precludes veterans’ use of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. Additional programs that cover all or part of your coursework are available through the GI Bill. You can use the GI Bill Comparison Tool to find out what part of your education is paid for by your country; in many cases, your tuition is completely covered.
3. Certifications are an Alternative Gateway
Veterans may feel they cannot earn sufficiently high wages without returning to college for an undergraduate degree. Certification programs, however, can readily compensate for a lack of college education depending on your previous experience or can make your college experience even more valuable.
Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) found that high school graduates who attained a certificate boosted their wage earning potential some 20 percent. CEW’s study found that the median high school graduate earned $29,000 while the median high school graduate with a certificate earned $34,946. This actually puts the certificate holder slightly above the earning power of someone who attended college but did not receive a degree.
CEW found certification programs sufficiently powerful to warrant a complete study, which found several interesting facts:
- Certificate Holders Working in Their Field of Study get a Significant Earnings Premium—Getting certified in a marketable skill, and then using it in its main industry, provided an average premium of 37 percent over certified workers outside their certified field.
- Computer and Information Services Certificate Holders Enjoyed the Strongest Premium—If you, as a veteran, earn an IT certification and work in IT, you could earn 115 percent more than someone earning an IT certification who does not work in IT. No other field comes close to matching this earnings premium.
4. IT Is the Future
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) keeps track of every occupation in the country, and routinely drops some jobs no longer held in sufficient numbers to track (descriptions like blacksmith and burlap spreader). One area it must expand on in its descriptions of America’s labor force is information technology:
- Computer support specialists
- Database administrators
- Network and computer systems administrators
- Web developers
Take “computer support specialists, for example, which is a job attainable through many paths, including certification rather than an undergraduate degree. The BLS notes that the 2014 median pay for this position was $47,610 per year across all industries using these specialists.
Job growth, says the BLS, is expected to maintain at 12 percent through 2024 (almost double the growth rate of all occupations, at seven percent), and some industries have even better numbers to tout for annual median income:
- Wholesale trade—$50,730
- Computer systems design—$47,940
For an occupation that can be attained with as little as 200 hours of certification work, these wages are considerably higher than the BLS’s calculated median annual wage of all occupations, $35,540.
Veteran-approved Certificate Programs
ECPI University’s Professional Development Center is specifically geared to provide today’s veteran with efficient, productive coursework in certificate programs approved for veterans, even while you continue in your current work. Contact ECPI’s Professional Development Center today to learn how your veteran’s benefits can truly benefit you.
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