A surge in technical and coding boot camp training has forced the Air Force to cut back on how many credentialing programs it pays for.
A recent update to Air Force Instruction 36-2670 outlined the cutbacks to the Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL) program, which will no longer fund preparatory classes, boot camps and coursework.
Military members who participate in the COOL program can leave the service with professional credentials that help them get jobs that require prior experience, professional or technical credentials, or certification in various skills. Credentials help to translate military training and experience into something civilian employers can easily recognize. That can help you get hired, get a better job, or be promoted sooner. Many credentials can also give you better chances for advancement while in the military.
The Air Force, along with all other branches of the military, offers credentialing options, including online testing, classroom training, and granting credentials based on military occupational specialty. In many cases, service members may have their credentialing testing or training paid for by the military. In cases where the military doesn't fund the training, troops may use their GI Bill to pay for it.
"Boot camp expenditures increased to more than 50% of the program's budget," said Hildegard Buan, Air Force chief of Voluntary Education. "Unfortunately, these increased expenditures couldn't be sustained and required us to review and adjust our policies.
"The AF COOL program is a very popular program among our enlisted force," she added. "We wanted to keep this program open for our enlisted members and, in order to do so, we had to make some tough decisions on policy changes. The money saved through these adjustments will ensure we can continue to offer more Airmen and Space Professionals the opportunities to earn credentials."
The AF COOL program provides opportunities for enlisted members of the Air Force and Space Force to earn industry-recognized professional certifications and licenses to enhance an individual's active-duty specialty and to help with transition preparations for the civilian job market following active-duty service.
Under AF COOL, uniformed members receive funding for credentials associated with their primary Air Force specialty code; one credential related to an awarded academic degree; one credential unrelated to their primary AFSC; and a leadership and management credential for E-7s and above. Additionally, the program continues to provide funding for exams and study materials up to $500 per credential goal.