Starting a new life in the civilian world can be daunting. It is a world that is different in many respects from a life in the military and this deters many from leaving when they might otherwise wish to. A major deterrent can be the question, “What will I do when I get out?” We want to make sure Veterans have the knowledge and resources they need to make the right educational choices.
Attending a four-year college for the possibility of a well-paying job can seem wasteful and impractical. The military trained you for your job, so surely there are similar programs for other jobs. Fortunately, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has organized such a program: the Veteran Employment Through Technology Program (VET TEC).
The tech industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in America. As a result, there is a high demand for skilled labor. As the VA recounts on its website, “the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimat[es] IT occupations will increase by 13 percent over the next decade”. Growing industries and high labor demands mean good salaries and future prospects for employees. The aim of VET TEC is to train Veterans and pave the way for their entry into this industry.
VET TEC has already graduated 2,500 applicants so it has a track record of success. If you are trying to jump-start a post-military career with a bright future, then you don’t need to spend four years reading poetry or anthropology. Veterans with at least one day of remaining GI Bill entitlement can apply and, in a matter of months, gain the skills necessary to join the 21st-century workforce. On average, graduates find employment within 67 days and earn a starting salary above $59,000. That’s above the starting salary of most graduates across the country.
The VET TEC program does not supply the training, but is instead paired with training providers and employer partners to provide opportunities for Veteran applicants. Training providers offer courses in a number of technology-related fields, ranging from software development to cyber—security. The VET TEC program can pay for your tuition and housing as long as you meet the following criteria:
- Aren’t on active duty or are within 180 days of separating from active duty, and
- Qualify for VA education assistance under the GI Bill, and
- Have at least one day of unexpired GI Bill entitlement, and
- Are accepted into a program by a VA-approved training provider
If you are eligible, you may then apply to VA-approved training providers. ‘Preferred’ providers promise to return all tuition and fees if you do not find employment within 180 days of graduating. This means that providers can have their own admissions process to assess a candidate’s ability to find complete the training and find employment
Once admitted, VET TEC hosts regular events to boost students’ prospects, including:
- Opportunities to network with employers
- Resume workshops
- Panel discussions
- Lunch and learns
This helps students build networks that will continue into their careers and provide a system of support to future Veterans who want to enter the tech industry.
The program has expanded in recent years to consider a wider range of possible candidates; Servicemembers may now apply within 180 days of separating from the military. VET TEC’s annual funding has also been tripled, from $15 million to $45 million. The success of the program is breeding increased interest so NOW is a great time to apply and get that post-military career off the ground!