6 Places Veterans Can Get New Careers By ‘Upskilling’ for Free

Sgt. Jason Hansen thanks partnering organizations involved with the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA) after accepting his graduation certificate Oct. 6, 2017. (Scott Prater)

"Upskilling'' is one of the latest trends in workforce development, but military personnel have been doing it for ages. Companies, industries and sectors simply identify critical skills they'll need in the coming years and train people in just those skills. No college programs, no degrees, just some classwork and on-the-job training.

If this sounds familiar, that's because that's essentially how the military trains its enlisted corps. Every branch of the military takes its newly graduated basic trainees and upskills them into their military occupational specialty. After a few years of on-the-job training, they have a highly professional, skilled workforce and we enlistees have careers and years of experience.

Upskilling is a great way to put dedicated employees into the most needed areas of a business, and it doesn't matter whether they currently work for a company or are hired from the outside. Upskilling will be part of the future of workforce development.

For separating veterans, this is a great way to enter a new career field without dipping into (or too far into) their GI Bill benefits. Here are just a few areas looking to upskill veterans as soon as possible.

1. Microsoft Software and Systems Academy

The Microsoft Software and Systems Academy is probably the premier upskilling program in the United States. The tech giant's MSSA courses teach veterans in critical needs such as cloud application development, server and cloud administration and more in just 17 weeks, all through online training.

MSSA students can enroll at no out-of-pocket costs, enjoy a 90% graduation rate, and 95% of those graduates will go on to work in an important tech-sector job. At the end of the program, the MSSA administrators will connect graduates to a job interview with either Microsoft or one of the program's 600 tech-sector affiliates.

2. Veterans Curation Program

The Veterans Curation Program originally was designed to teach veterans how to process and care for the U.S. Army's own archeological collections from the Army Corps of Engineers. But since most of the collections require high standards of rehabilitation, the Army designed a training regimen around it.

VCP is a five-month program that instructs vets in cataloging and photographing artifacts as well as cleaning, scanning and re-housing photographs and documents, all to federal standards, which directly translate to civilian organizations.

3. Booz Allen Hamilton

The government contracting giant Booz Allen Hamilton created its first Mil/Tech corporate fellowship program in 2020 as part of the Hiring Our Heroes initiative. While this particular program currently is offered only in the Fayetteville, North Carolina, area, the future potential of it could be huge, with upskilling programs in Booz Allen Hamilton offices all over the country.

Booz Allen Hamilton wants to help veterans smoothly transition into future-focused careers and so decided to offer hands-on training to separating veterans under the Defense Department's SkillBridge program. SkillBridge allows active-duty service members to learn new skills during the last six months of their enlistment while still earning military pay and benefits.

Any veterans interested in artificial intelligence, cyber or cloud computing should head over to Booz Allen Hamilton to learn more.

4. Onward to Opportunity

Anywhere you find a list of free training and upskilling courses for veterans, you're going to find Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families somewhere on the list. In this case, its Onward to Opportunity (O2O) program teaches not just information technology, but a host of other disciplines.

While the program is hosted by Syracuse, you find yourself having to learn words like bursar or registrar just to find your way around. Anyone interested in Six Sigma process improvement, project management, human resources and others can see the program requirements, along with the list of learning opportunities on the O2O website.

5. Wholepoint Systems

Veterans might notice that many reskilling programs are heavy on the technical sector, especially in coding, computing and administration. Wholepoint Systems offers similar programs but with the added benefit of appealing to employers that military personnel already know and applying their knowledge to military applications.

On top of working in a familiar environment and potentially familiar programs, upskilled workers trained by Wholepoint Systems also will enjoy a career coach. This coach will be with them every step of the way until they find their first post-military job, using their new skills. To learn more, visit Wholepoint Systems.

6. Salesforce Trailhead Military Program

A full 87% of Fortune 500 companies use Salesforce. The company wants military members to be a part of its shared future, so the company will train military members and veterans for free. Free is a great price for a skill set that earns an average of $70,000 per year.

All you do is choose a career goal. Once you do that, you have access to a self-paced, no-obligation core of lessons in Salesforce classes, exams and certifications, good wherever Salesforce technology is used -- which is to say almost everywhere.

To learn more, visit the Salesforce Trailhead Military program overview.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

Want to Know More About Veteran Jobs?

Be sure to get the latest news about post-military careers as well as critical info about veteran jobs and all the benefits of service. Subscribe to Military.com and receive customized updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Story Continues
Veteran Jobs