As a veteran, you have many education and training options.
Want to learn new skills that will help you land a job? Take a class to build on your military experience? Earn a college degree?
There are programs and benefits that can help you achieve any of these goals. See which of the options below is best for you.
Earn a certificate
Did you know you can complete a certificate program in less than a year?
Earning a certificate can be provide a great bridge from your military career to your civilian career. A certificate program is an academic program, often offered at community or technical colleges. They generally require nine to 30 credits (three to six classes) that can be completed in a year or less by a full-time student.
Some certificate programs are for people who want to quickly enter a specific job. Others programs provide specialized training for people who already have college diplomas or degrees.
Many community and technical colleges offer short-term training programs. Visit CareerOneStop’s Local Training Finder to explore options in your local area. If you’re not sure what field you might want to enter, visit CareerOneStop’s Explore Careers.
You might qualify for veterans’ education benefits to help pay for a certificate program. If you do, you’ll want to make sure you enroll in an eligible program. You can search for VA-approved programs to make sure a program is eligible. You can use the GI Bill Comparison Tool to determine the cost at your chosen school and compare that with other schools.
Enter an apprenticeship
Apprenticeships combine a training with a full-time job—and prepare you to enter specialized fields.
Apprentices are trained by master craftsmen, who are experts in their field. Apprentices also take classes classroom lessons to make sure they master all aspects of the job.
An apprenticeship can help you enter an in-demand field. There are apprenticeships in many different jobs: from high-tech manufacturing to health care.
You apply for an apprenticeship at a specific employer. Once accepted, you become an apprentice. You earn wages during your apprenticeship program. You work, but you also learn the skills needed to work in that occupation.
If you’re interested in an apprenticeship, you may be eligible for financial assistance from the VA. The VA provides a comprehensive list of employers, by state, that offer apprenticeships (note that on this page you will need to select “on-the-job training/apprenticeship” next to “Program type.”)
Find more information about apprenticeship programs in your state
Earn a certification
A certification can help you demonstrate your skills and knowledge to an employer.
A certification is an award you can earn—usually by passing a test—to show your skill or knowledge in a particular career field. Find out if there are certifications in your field with CareerOneStop’s Certification Finder.
The VA may provide funding for a certification exam. Funding is for the exam fee but not for study material.
Find a list of license and certification exams that are approved for VA funding, by state. (From the link above, select “Certification” next to “LAC Category Type.”)
Some jobs require that you have a license. Licenses are issued by states, and the rules vary from state to state. You usually need a combination of experience and training to obtain a license, and you often have to take a test and pay a fee. Examples of fields that often require licenses are:
- Health care careers, such as dental assistants and emergency medical technicians (EMT)
- Jobs in the trades, such as plumbers, electricians, and building contractors
- Jobs that provide personal care such as barbers and cosmetologists
Learn about licensing requirements in your state at CareerOneStop’s License Finder.
If you need to take an exam that will allow you to acquire a state-issued, professional license, the VA may provide funding for the license exam. Funding is for the exam fee but not for study material. Find a list of license and certification exams that are approved for VA funding, by state. (Select “License” next to “LAC Category Type.”)
Two- or four-year degree
Are you ready to begin or finish a college degree? The VA offers free counseling and an online assessment tool called CareerScope to help transitioning service members plan their education. Visit the VA’s Education and Training section to learn more.
You can visit the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard for help finding a college that’s a good fit for you. You can use the Scorecard to find out more about a college’s affordability and value so you can make more informed decisions about which college to attend.
What questions should you ask? Here are some questions to ask if you contact or visit a college or university:
- Can I transfer credits from my military training or from other schools? Ask any schools you are considering whether they will recognize your past coursework or training and/or accept your transferred credit.
- How much will it cost and what benefits can I receive? Once you have chosen a program of study you can use the GI Bill Comparison Tool to compare Tuition and Fees, Housing Allowance, and Book Stipend rates between schools.
- Is there a central point of contact for veterans? Hands-on, in-person assistance with navigating the educational process makes the academic journey much more manageable. Check to see if the school you are considering has a Veterans Certifying Official.
- Are there campus services? Look for access to mental health and medical support, disability services, academic accommodations, and available career services.
- Is there a strong veterans’ voice? You may feel most comfortable, and get the most support, at a school with a strong veterans’ student group, such as a Student Veterans of America organization.
- Is there a space for veterans’ gatherings? A designated location for student veterans offers a dependable and supportive environment where trust, support, and camaraderie can be found and fostered in an academic environment.
Transfer military credits
Learn how to apply your military training and experience to your higher education goals in Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services from the American Council on Education. You’ll also find links to transcript information from each of the military branches.
Get more information