AITAF: For Members of the Military that Love the Arts

Military Members and the Arts

All About Arts in the Armed Forces

Service members and veterans have many different passions beyond serving in the military. For some, that passion is the arts, from performing to screenwriting to playwriting. In addition, service members and veterans enjoy watching a good show. This is where Arts in the Armed Forces comes into play.

What is Arts in the Armed Forces?

AITAF is a non-profit based in Brooklyn, NY. Their mission from their website is, “ to use the powerful shared experience of the arts to start conversations between military and civilian, service member and family member, the world of the arts and the world of practical action.”

AITAF partners with military installations all over the world. They provide a communal artistic experience to military personnel that are stationed there. The staff and volunteer professional actors perform and then have a Q&A session with the audience about the themes and process of the work. The trips normally last two days, and the AITAF team members are also able to train in the specialty of the installation. 

During COVID they have done this virtually, you can see more about their previous events on their past event page. 

Who started Arts in the Armed Forces?

Military veteran and Actor Adam Driver and his wife, actress Joanne Tucker started AITAF back in 2006, with it becoming official in 2008. Adam Driver served in the US Marine Corps, signing up after 9/11. After almost three years, he was medically discharged after injuring his sternum while mountain biking. He ended up going to Julliard and first appeared in Broadway and off-Broadway productions. He now has a successful acting career with credits in TV shows such as Girls, and movies such as the Marriage Story, BlacKkKlansman, and Kylo Ren in the latest Star Wars movies. Joanne Tucker has been in films such as The Report, Give or Take, as well as many off-Broadway productions. 

What are the Bridge Awards?

In 2018, in honor of their 10th anniversary, AITAF started the Bridge Award for Playwriting. This award is open to anyone who has served or who currently serves in the US military. This award is to identify and encourage talented playwrights in the military community. 

So far there have been three winners, War Stories by Vinnie Lyman, Tampons, Dead Dogs, and Other Disposable Things by Shairi Engle, and Local Gods, by Anton Sattler. Winners will receive a cash prize of $10,000, an awards ceremony, a reading and access to membership, and/or professional development opportunities. 

In 2020, they added the Bridge Award for Screenwriting. This is similar to the playwriting award and is for aspiring filmmakers with a military background.

What about their Student Veteran Internship?

The Student Veteran Internship program with AITAF is a 10-12 week program located in Brooklyn, NY, and was launched in 2018. Interns work 30 hours a week in the summer, receiving a $1,000 stipend, and 10 hours a week in the fall and spring for hourly minimum wage. These interns play a key role in the daily activities of a small non-profit as well as assisting with the external events on military installations as well as other locations. 

To apply, you would need to be currently enrolled full-time in an undergraduate or graduate university program and be the type of person they would be looking for. You can read more about this program and its qualifications on their website. 

Unfortunately, they are not taking any new interns at the moment but that could change in the future.

Arts in the Armed Forces is an amazing veteran-owned non-profit, offering value to the military and veteran community. 





Google VetNet Hosts Career Week 2021

So, you may have heard of Google. They’re kind of a big deal on the Internet. But did you know that Google has a Veterans Network? Neither did I.

VetNet is Google’s veterans networking program designed to assist veterans, military spouses, and service members by providing tools, support, and resources to begin or advance their careers.

Google VetNet Career Week 2021

From June 22nd through June 24th, Google’s VetNet will host their 2021 Career Week, which is a virtual three-day event that will include panels covering functions of industry, “fireside” chats with corporate level executives from Google and other companies, hands-on training, and 1:1 resume reviews with members of Google’s team.

Each day is themed:

  • 22 June – Career Tools
  • 23 June – Inspirational Leadership
  • 24 June – Applying What You Learned

Career Tools

On day one, starting at noon (EDT), Google will open with a welcome kickoff and LinkedIn profile recommendations. Do not skip over the LinkedIn piece – at many of the career fairs I’ve attended, you often get to connect your profile to some heavy-hitters in the recruiting and hiring fields. (That’s called “networking”!)

Over the following 5 hours, there will be concurrent seminars, 3 each hour, and you will choose which one you wish to attend each hour. Topics will include:

  • Functional Paths for Veterans and MilSpouses in the areas of Business, Engineering, and Tech
  • Deep Dives into the industries of Healthcare, Technology, Gaming/Entertainment, and more.

These seminars will feature panelists from the following companies:

  • Facebook
  • Amazon
  • Microsoft
  • Walmart
  • Proctor & Gamble
  • Electronic Arts (EA)
  • Disney
  • Netflix
  • Apple
  • FitBit
  • Deloitte
  • Wells Fargo
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Ford
  • Tesla
  • So many more!

The panelists featured in these seminars are C-Suite executives for their respective companies, and they have a ton of advice and experiences to pass on to all attendees.

RELATED: Building Your Veteran Network

Inspirational Leadership

Day two, again starting at noon, has three major events. 

The first is a fireside chat with Amy Goldfinger, the Senior Vice President of Global Talent at Walmart, and Lisa Geveleber, Vice President of Grow with Google. They will discuss the value veterans and military spouses bring to the corporate workforce.

This will be followed by a fireside chat with Alex Gorsky, the CEO of Johnson & Johnson, and Ruth Porat, the Chief Financial Officer for Alphabet/Google. They will discuss organizational leadership throughout the global pandemic.

The final event of the day is very exciting! This executive panel, called The Keys to Successful Entrepreneurship, will feature the following panelists:

  • Amy McDonough, GM & Managing Director at FitBit
  • Todd Connor, CEO of Bunker Labs
  • Bethany Coates, CEO of BreakLine
  • Don Foul, CEO of Athos

The panel will discuss entrepreneurship, starting your own business, and working for a startup. These executives will share their stories of starting their own businesses, the lessons learned from their failures, and things to consider when taking on a new venture.

Apply What You Learned

On this final day of Career Week 2021, there are three main events.

You will have the opportunity to connect with a Googler for 20-25 minutes for a personal resume review and discussion about careers.

Additionally, there will be a session discussing learning and certificate programs that can help set you up for a new career.

Finally, there will be a “Navigating Next Workshop”, which is powered by Shift and will likely cover the next steps you should take in your adventure.

View the Full Schedule for Career Week 2021.

Google Veteran Network Registration

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you are just beginning the transition to a civilian career, or if you’ve been in the workforce for years. This event will give you life lessons, valuable networking opportunities, and advice to assist in your journey.

You must be registered by June 1, 2021 to participate. So, mark your calendars and register here:

Google VetNet Career Week 2021 Registration.  For more info on Google VetNet, please go here.

(image courtesy of Jane0606 via Shutterstock)





Advance Your Nursing Career, Debt-Free with the VA

Given the last year or so of our lives, many front-line heroes have emerged to help us manage life in the pandemic. From our teachers learning to offer education remotely, to the personal shoppers who are always on call to bring you food, personal necessities, and even a tall, double-dark, double-skinny, mocha frappe thingy. 

There are also those who work in the medical field. Doctors, nurses, and hospital staff all over the country, even the world, were essential to the millions affected by the coronavirus. It is no surprise then that the Nursing career field is direly shorthanded. 

VA Financial Support for Nursing Careers

Most people know that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides an outstanding education benefit to our nation’s military and veteran communities. What most people don’t know, however, is that the VA prides itself on helping their own employees advance their education and careers through programs like the National Nursing Education Initiative (NNEI).


Through the NNEI program, Registered Nurses (RNs) who work part-time or full-time at the VA for at least one year can receive up to $41,572, tax free, toward the cost of higher education. This scholarship can be used to cover tuition, books, or administrative and registration fees. In return, scholarship recipients agree to work in a VA career for one to three years.

RELATED: Nursing Careers for Veterans and Military Spouses

Other NNEI Requirements

In addition to working for the VA for at least one year before applying, the applicants must also meet the following requirements:

  • Be accepted in an approved academic program required for a Title 38 and hybrid Title 38 occupation
  • Remain within credit limits of the Employee Initiative Scholarship Program (90 hours for undergraduate courses and 54 for graduate courses).
  • Be in permanent position with the VA at the time of application and during the time they would participate in the program.

More Scholarship Opportunities at the VA

In addition to the NNEI, the VA offers the following scholarship programs to VA employees:

  • Employee Incentive Scholarship Program (EISP)
    • Serve and care for the nation’s Veterans and continue your healthcare education with a scholarship through the VA Employee Incentive Scholarship Program.
  • Health Professional Scholarship Program (HPSP)
    • “HPSP awards scholarships to students receiving education/training in a health care services discipline. Awards will be offered on a competitive basis and are exempt from federal taxation. In exchange for the award, scholarship program participants agree to a service obligation in a VA health care facility.”
  • VA National Education for Employees Program (VANEEP)
    • “Choose a career that lets you stay on firm financial footing as you pursue first-time clinical licensure through the VA National Education for Employees Program.”
  • Visual Impairment and Orientation and Mobility Professionals Scholarship Program
    • “VIOMPSP awards scholarships to students seeking a degree or certificate in visual impairment or orientation and mobility. Awards are offered on a competitive basis, provide for the payment of tuition and required fees, and are exempt from federal taxation. In exchange for the award, scholarship program participants agree to a 3-year service obligation in a VA health care facility.”

RELATED: Great Degrees for Portable Careers: Nursing

Already Have Student Loan Debt?

If you’ve already finished a nursing program and have, as a result, accumulated student loan debt, the VA may have a solution for you. Check out these three programs:

  1. Education Debt Reduction Program – “Choose a healthcare career providing top-notch care to America’s Veterans and receive student loan repayment of up to $200,000 through VA’s Education Debt Reduction Program.”
  2. Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program – Because the VA is a federal government entity, VA employees with federal student loans may be eligible for this national loan forgiveness program.
  3. Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) – Through the SLRP, employees in certain occupations may be eligible to receive up to $10,000 per year (with a lifetime maximum of $60,000) to help repay student loans. Request more information on the availability of the SLRP when submitting your VA employment application.

RELATED: Bill Would Erase Student Loan Debt for 100% Disabled Veterans


As the need for medical professionals continues to grow, programs and scholarships like those above will become ever more vital to filling the shortages we have in the medical field. 

If you have ever considered becoming a nurse, but have put off that idea due to funding, then please know that there are amazing programs out there that can help you get the education you need to get into the nursing field.

 (Image courtesy of MBI via Shutterstock)





DoD SkillBridge: What You Need to Know

DoD SkillBridge Program

As a service member, you have gained a wide array of skills and concepts that are sought after by many employers. However, as you prepare to transition out of the service, gaining more relevant experience and adding to your resume could help you in your future career.

DoD SkillBridge allows service members to gain useful work experience through apprenticeships, specific industry training, and internships. SkillBridge is partnered with private businesses to help veterans better prepare for transitioning out of the service and to find jobs.  This program is a great opportunity for veterans to experience a variety of jobs outside of the military.

Notify your Chain of Command

Before making any plans, you must inform your chain of command and receive the proper approval. When doing so, it is recommended to inform them well in advance in case there are any mission constraints. It is mandatory that service members must be within 180 days of being discharged and have also served 180 days of continuous active duty. When planning out the dates, remember to give yourself enough time after the training to accomplish all the requirements for checking out of your unit. You will also need approval from your command if the internship is going to be located more than 50 miles away.


After you have received authorization, start to consider what program you are interested in. During this process, there are two routes you can take. You can find what business you want to work with on your own, or you can receive professional help from reputable companies.

When planning on your own, keep in mind the extra steps you may have to take when looking for the right position. You will need to make sure the position will benefit you, receive administrative approval through the base career office, and reach out to employers. This option will be fine if you have the time and a flexible schedule. On the DoD SkillBridge you will find the locations page where you can filter through:

  • Programs
  • Duration of training
    • Ranges
      • Low: 1-30 days
      • High: 91-120 days
  • Branch of Service
    • Army
    • Marine Corps
    • Navy
    • Air Force
    • All Services
  • Employer point of contact
  • Location

For further help, talk to your local Transition Office or Education Office for specific guidance through this program. If you happen to be on a deployment or are not nearby any offices who can assist you, visit the Contact Us page on the DoD SkillBridge website. Select the appropriate form and submit any questions you may have so a representative can contact you as soon as possible.

If you do not have the time to find a position, you can reach out to companies who help place veterans into SkillBridge internships. There are three main organizations who are well-known in this field:

Each organization are liaisons for DoD SkillBridge and they offer a variety of opportunities. These opportunities range from earning professional certificates, experience industry-focused internships, and receive resume and interview assistance. Using these organizations will not only make the process easier but will match you with a position that will benefit your future career.


After going through all of these steps, you need to prepare for your stay. Depending on where your internship is, military installations can make lodging space available in military barracks even if you are outside of your geographic home base. Barracks’ managers may authorize your stay on a space availability basis, all without any charge to you.

If you receive Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), you will continue to receive the same amount as your geographic duty location. So, if the cost of living is higher at your internship location, you will have to pay the difference of your living arrangement.

Once all of this is arranged, you have set yourself up for success to ensure a smooth transition out of the military. For more information visit the DoD SkillBridge website.





Microsoft Software & Systems Academy for Military and Veterans

Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA) for Military and Veterans

The Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA) provides transitioning service members and veterans with the essential skills necessary to secure employment in today’s growing technology industry. 

The MSSA offers a 16 to 17 week training for careers in cloud development and cloud administration, which are areas in extremely high demand. Graduates of these programs will have the opportunity to interview for open positions at Microsoft or one of their hiring partners.

Fully Virtual, Fully Funded for Military and Veterans

In early March, Microsoft announced that the MSSA program would be 100% online, and the 16-17 week course would be fully funded. A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment on the cost of fully funding MSSA.

The MSSA and DoD’s Skillbridge program pair up extremely well in preparing members of the military community for careers in technology. The move to virtual learning brought on by the pandemic enables students to learn these technical skills from anywhere, and without using their GI Bill benefits.

The MSSA program transitioned to a virtual format in March 2020 at the onset of COVID-19. However, the permanence of the online delivery, and the funding, began in February 2021. This format complements the flexibility required by those transitioning from the military.

Learning Paths and Career Opportunities

Cloud Application Development

The purpose of this program is to mold veterans into C# programmers who “build local, server based and cloud-stored applications.” The learning path covers concepts like database programming, data integration & manipulation, C# application programming with MVC, and application development in Azure.

Check out some Potential Careers in this job field.

Server & Cloud Administration

This program prepares veterans to become system administrators who can “install, configure, manage and advance the usage of IT resources on premise, in the cloud or in a hybrid combination to meet the technology needs of major organizations.” The topic areas of instruction include Windows Server workloads, networking, authentication and authorization, cloud models, and Azure administration.

Check out some Potential Careers in this arena.



Additional Program Benefits

For each of these learning paths, “Microsoft provides free Microsoft Learn courses to expand your fundamental knowledge of key technology areas and help prepare you to gain one of the required MTA certifications.”

Additionally, CompTIA offers a 26% discount on their exam vouchers, while also providing online and local instructor-ed training to help prepare you to gain one of the required CompTIA certifications. These voucher codes are provided by MSSA Academic Partners.

If you’re a military spouse, Microsoft has previously hosted a Military Spouse Technology Academy which aims to “provide an intensive training program designed to empower military spouses with in-demand digital skills that can lead to well-paying and meaningful careers.”  This is an annual program.  There have been no announcements for 2021 and beyond.  Please check back for updates on this program.

Finally, Microsoft works with hundreds of hiring partners to assist program graduates find new careers after training is complete. Many of these hiring partners are Fortune 500 companies! Microsoft and its military family-friendly Hiring Partners feel it is critical to address the skills gap in the technology industry. 

Next Steps

This opportunity is open to both current and transitioning service members, so take your next Virtual Steps today! 

If you are interested in applying to the MSSA program, email to sign up for weekly information sessions.





Top 5 Jobs in America

Best Jobs in the US

As a nation, as we continue to emerge from the pandemic and face an uncertain but optimistically bright outlook.  It is essential to remember the opportunities that await us as we move towards the future. For service members and veterans, this outlook is paramount, considering the obstacles they face when transitioning into civilian life. This article explores the top 5 jobs in America as outlined by and what you can do to be prepared to enter that career field.

Physician Assistant (PA)

Physician assistants investigate illnesses, develop, and carry out treatment plans, assist in surgeries, perform procedures, and mentor patients. Their work is very similar or mirrors that of a general internist or doctor, but PAs must coordinate with a licensed physician or surgeon to work in most states.

The military branches have PA programs that allow service members to become Physician Assistants; however, the process and selection criteria are rigorous. There are a series of requirements potential candidates must meet to be selected for PA school. Contact your local military medical branch for more information.

RELATED: Reasons For Veterans To Become a Physician Assistant

>> Get started on getting your degree to be a Physician Assistant at these GI Bill-approved schools.  Get started today!

Software Developer

Software developers create the technologies we often take for granted. For instance, that application that sings, rings, or vibrates you out of a deep slumber every morning, even on Mondays? A software developer helped create that app. And when you cruise into the office and switch on your computer, clicking and scrolling through social media, music, and your calendar – software developers had a big hand in shaping those, too.

The branches that are best set up to transition into this field is the Air Force and the Navy, due to the technology their unique mission sets require them to use every day. The Army and Marines lack this area; however, the opportunities are still there for both soldiers and Marines to get into the field.

Civilian level certifications are available to members of each branch’s signal corps, and those certifications are critical in the software career field. As cyberspace warfare continues to develop, more and more opportunities will arise for service members.

RELATED: Getting a Degree in Computer Science

>> Get started on a degree in Computer Science at these GI Bill-approved schools.  Get started today!

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners are defined as registered nurses who have obtained additional education or certifications. Extra education allows these professionals to take patient histories, perform physical exams, order labs, analyze lab results, prescribe medicines, authorize treatments, and educate patients and families on continued care. Each branch has a medical Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), which allows its members to serve as nurses and then transfer those certifications into a civilian career. As stated earlier, the process is rigorous, and the selection criteria are higher. Still, once a candidate makes it through the program, they can be rewarded with a fulfilling and promising career in both the military and civilian worlds.

RELATED: Nursing Careers for Veterans and Military Spouses

>> Get started on a career in Nursing with a degree at these GI Bill-approved schools.  Get started today!

Medical and Health Services Manager

Medical and health services managers serve as the directors, planners and coordinators who operate behind the scenes to help keep hospitals, local nursing homes, group practices, and other health care facilities running efficiently and effectively. In short, they are super-organized and precise professionals.

Medical and health services managers are often very detail-oriented personnel with extremely good analytical skillsets. Since much of their time is spent in conjunction with doctors, health insurance representatives, and other administrators, they need to have good interpersonal and communication skills.

Problem-solving is another part of the job. Technical skills are also a must because they must keep up to date with software and electronic health records. Again, the best MOSs to have to enter this career are administrative or medical specialties.

RELATED: Health Information Management Careers for Military, Veterans & Spouses

>> Get started on a career as a Medical and Health Services Manager with a degree or certificate at these GI Bill-approved schools.  Get started today!


They’re the personnel we call when the contractions come every five minutes in the middle of the night. We run to them for broken arms, and we make appointments when we find irregular freckles. We go to them with various coughs, colds, and aches. They are obstetricians and gynecologists, ER doctors, dermatologists, primary care providers, neurologists, and cardiologists.

Becoming a Physician in the military is rigorous and usually takes the candidate to complete the process on the civilian side before enlisting in the military; however, if the desire and drive are there, then rewards will be endless for this career.

RELATED: Online Degrees in Health Services Administration for Military & Veterans

>> Get started on a career as a Medical and Health Services Manager with a degree or certificate at these GI Bill-approved schools.  Get started today!






Enlisted to Physician Preparatory Program for Military

Enlisted to Medical Degree Program (EMDP2)

Enlisted military members across the Armed Forces now have the opportunity to prepare for future careers as uniformed physicians thanks to the Enlisted to Medical Degree Preparatory Program (EMDP2).  This program offers the opportunity for enlisted military personnel to start on their paths to becoming a physician.

If you are…

  • an enlisted service member of our Armed Forces
  • even remotely interested in the medical field
  • looking for a way to advance your career

Then this program may be of interest to you.

What is EMDP2?

The Enlisted to Medical Degree Preparatory Program, or EMDP2, is headquartered at the Uniformed Services University (USU) of the Health Sciences’ F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine.  The program was designed to give promising enlisted service members interested in becoming military physicians a pathway to medical school.

The 2-year program is a partnership of USU, George Mason University, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Marine Corps. This program enables highly qualified enlisted service members to complete the preparatory coursework for application to medical school while maintaining an active duty status. Students maintain their current pay and benefits while going to school full time.

What Does the EMDP2 Program Consist Of?

Program components include full-time coursework in a traditional classroom setting (in the Washington, D.C. area), structured pre-health advising, formal Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) preparation, dedicated faculty and peer mentoring at USU, and integrated clinical exposure.

Following successful completion of the program, graduates will apply for acceptance to the USU medical school and/or civilian medical schools (admission to medical school is not guaranteed).

The EMDP2 program has been accepting applicants since 2014 and the program is expected to continue accepting applicants annually.

Who Can Apply?

This program is only open to active duty enlisted service members who have obtained a baccalaureate degree from an accredited U.S. college or university.

Interested service members must apply through their respective service:

Air Force Guidelines

Army Guidelines

Navy Guidelines: NAVADMIN 172/17and BUMED INSTRUCTION 1500.31

Marine Guidelines: MARADMIN 494/17and BUMED INSTRUCTION 1500.31

Criteria/Requirements for Admission

EMDP2 candidates will be “service members who demonstrate integrity, are passionate about service in harm’s way, and are dedicated to becoming future clinicians, leaders and scholars of the nation’s medical force.”

Candidates must possess a baccalaureate or masters degree from an accredited academic institution, with a minimum 3.2 grade point average (GPA).

EMDP2 Application Information

Here are some important documents you’ll need to apply for this great program:

If you have a questions about the program, contact the EMDP2 Office at this email address:

Online Information Sessions

The Uniformed Services University offers online information sessions on the new EMDP2 application process. Registration is prioritized for military members and Department of Defense civilian employees (including military contractors). There is a limit of one session per person. Additional sessions may be provided based on applicant demand. Register here for an online information session!

Make the Move

Opportunities like this one are not easy to find. I remember being a young enlisted soldier with two years in the Army, wondering what opportunities were out there. I had the chance to attend the West Point Prep School, but I turned it down for a lady.  As a warrant officer, I could have applied to fly helicopters, but I sat on my application between each deployment to Iraq. By the time I was motivated to do something, I was a senior NCO staring down retirement!

Take my advice. If becoming a doctor or a nurse interests you, jump at this as soon as you can!

You have the information, now make your move. Good luck!

(Image courtesy of the Uniformed Services University)


Branch Education Programs





Less School, More Pay: Start a Fantastic Career in Physical Therapy

Less School, More Pay: Start a Fantastic Career in Physical Therapy

Education and training in the field of physical therapy can open doors to a great career with excellent pay. Physical therapy jobs span a variety of opportunities from public service to private sector jobs. There are also non-traditional opportunities such as outreach programs and self-employment.

Physical Therapy: Aides, Assistants, and Therapists

There are a variety of education levels required in the field of physical therapy. Qualifications and terminology may vary by state. Training to pursue a career in physical therapy ranges from non-degree certification programs to graduate degrees. Typically, a physical therapy aide is an entry level position that requires a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Physical therapy assistants require an associate degree level education and licensure in most states. Licensure typically requires graduation from an accredited physical therapist assistant program and passing the National Physical Therapy Exam for physical therapy assistants. Physical therapists need a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree and all states require physical therapists to be licensed.

Physical therapy aides typically have job duties that are indirectly related to patient care such as cleaning, setting up treatment areas, helping patients, and doing clerical duties. A high school diploma and on-the-job training can be sufficient to secure a job as a physical therapy aide. Additional schooling and certifications such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), basic life support (BLS), and other first-aid skills can help with job and pay prospects.

Physical therapy assistants (PTAs) work under the supervision and instruction of a licensed physical therapist and have the following job responsibilities:

  • Observe patients before, during, and after therapy and note records
  • Help patients do specific exercises as part of a prescribed plan of care
  • Treat patients using a variety of techniques, such as massage and stretching
  • Use assistive devices and equipment to help patients
  • Teach patients how to properly use devices and equipment, such as walkers and wheelchairs, to help themselves
  • Educate patients and family members about what to do during and after treatment


Jobs and Education

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates employment physical therapist aides and assistants will grow by almost 30%. This growth rate is well above average for all occupations. The aging of the Baby Boomer population is a considerable contributing factor to the need for PTAs. This generation is staying active later in life yet are also susceptible to health conditions (such as strokes and heart attacks), that may require physical therapy. Physical therapy is also needed to treat people with mobility issues stemming from chronic conditions such as diabetes or obesity, and injuries in normally healthy people due to accidents.

An education and career in the physical therapy field is especially beneficial for military spouses, as they are certain to secure excellent job opportunities across their many moves with the appropriate education and training. Don’t forget about the MyCAA Program for military spouses; for more info click here.

Associate Degree for Physical Therapy Assistant

An Associate Degree for Physical Therapy Assistant is a great foundation for a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Earning an associate degree is also an educational cornerstone that will aid students should they choose to advance their education and/or careers. Programs will include a general education foundation and prepare healthcare workers with the appropriate skills and training needed to be a successful PTA. Programs should be accredited, meet the academic requirements for state licensure, and satisfy the requirements for graduates to take the national licensing exam to become licensed PTAs.

>> Find schools offering associate’s degrees in Physical Therapy here with the CollegeRecon School Finder tool.

The median annual wage for physical therapist assistants is approximately $59,000. The lowest 10 percent earned approximately $34,000 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $81,000.

Median annual wages for PTAs in the top industries in which they work are as follows:


Nursing care facilities $67,000
Home healthcare services 63,000
Offices of physical, occupational, and speech therapists 58,000
Hospitals 57,000
Offices of physicians 55,000



Ready to Embark on a Career in the Field of Physical Therapy?

Check out these great programs available at our partner schools:

Lone Star College offers a Physical Therapist Assistant Associate of Applied Sciences Degree. Lone Star College does not participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

New England Institute of Technology offers a Physical Therapist Assistant Associate in Science Degree. New England Institute of Technology participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

 *All statistics and calculations from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For more information click here.





Become a Lawyer in the Military

Become a Lawyer in the Military

Over the last decade there has been over a 15% increase in lawyers according to the ABA’s National Lawyer Population.  Many individuals who are aspiring lawyers are now becoming military lawyers. This is made possible through the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG Corps) which is a governmental organization that is concerned with military law and military justice.

The lawyers in this system are military officers who are known as Judge Advocates. They are responsible for maintaining cases and advising service members on legal issues.

Although all potential candidates must be in law school or have graduated, each branch of service has its own process to becoming a Judge Advocate.

Air Force: Becoming a Lawyer in the Air Force

The Air Force has four entry options that are for:

  • Students
  • Licensed attorneys
  • Active duty military
  • Air Force Reserves

The first option requires that students be on track to graduate or have recently graduated from an ABA-approved law school.

The second option is for licensed attorneys who directly enter the JAG Corps once selected after the application process.

The third option is for active duty members who if selected, will go to law school at the expense of the Air Force.

The fourth option is for the Air Force Reserves which allows experienced lawyers to work part time with the JAG Corps while maintaining their current job.

To apply, an application is submitted online, and a schedule must be made to have an interview with a Staff Judge Advocate. If selected, all candidates must attend Officer Training School (OTS) which is an eight-week training course at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Alabama.

After OTS, the new officers will go to Judge Advocate Staff Officer Course (JASOC) which is also located in Montgomery, Alabama. It is a nine-week course where they will be taught Air Force legal practice.

Once training is completed, Judge Advocates will go on to serve a four-year active duty commitment.  The U.S. Air Force online will have more information in regard to application deadlines and entry programs.

RELATED: Air Force Education Benefits Programs

Army: Becoming a Lawyer in the Army

The Army offers an Active Duty and Army Reserve component for interested applicants. Both have to go through the same process, however, the Army Reserves allows Judge Advocates to maintain their civilian jobs while working part time with the Army.

To apply for the JAG Corps, an application must be submitted, and an interview must be conducted with an Army Judge Advocate.

Once selected, candidates must go through the Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course which is comprised of two phases: The Direct Commissioned Course (DCC) and the Charlottesville Phase.

The first phase, DCC, is a 6-week course held in Fort Benning, Georgia where they will learn leadership skills and military tactics.

Upon completion, they will go onto the Charlottesville Phase, which is located at the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center in Charlottesville, VA. Judge Advocates will undergo a 10.5-week course comprised of learning military law in regard to the U.S. Army as well as the organization and mission of the JAG Corps.

Visit the U.S. Army online to learn more about the application process.


Navy: Becoming a Lawyer in the Navy

There are a variety of programs offered through the Navy designed to better suit potential candidates.

The Student Program allows law students to commission in the inactive Naval Reserve while attending law school.

The Direct Appointment Program permits experienced licensed attorneys to be selected directly into the Navy JAG Corps.

The Law Education Program is designed for current active duty Naval Officers so they may enter law school and become Judge Advocates.

After applying, selection, and commission, candidates will go onto training.

Those who have never served as an officer, will attend Officer Development School (ODS) which is a five-week course at the Naval Station in Newport, Rhode Island. This course offers necessary training as an officer as well as essential aspects of leadership.

After ODS, individuals will go to the Basic Lawyer Course at Naval Justice School onboard Naval Station Newport. This is a ten-week course that trains the fundamentals of military law and relevant civil law.

For more information and eligibility requirements, visit the Navy website.

RELATD: Navy Education Programs

Marine Corps: Becoming a Lawyer in the USMC

There are two paths that potential candidates can take to enter the JAG Corps in the Marine Corps.

The first is the Platoon Leaders Class which is an option for those who are in their first or second year of law school or are a senior who have been accepted into and ABA-accredited law school.

The second is the Officer Candidate Course which is for third-year law students or bar-certified lawyers.

Students must complete Officer Candidates School which is a rigorous ten-week institute in Quantico, Virginia that evaluates candidates on leadership, academics, and training.

After completion, officers will go to The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia which is a 6-month program that is continuation of training for officers.

From there, officers will receive a ten-week training course at the Naval Justice School in Newport, Rhode Island that teaches the military justice system.

Contact a Marine recruiter or visit Marine Corps online for more information.




Federal Agencies Looking to Hire Veterans

Federal Agencies Looking to Hire Veterans: FBI, CIA, DHS and More

Whether you want to leverage your existing skills or make a bold career change, your military experience and training may make you an ideal candidate for a position in one of these government agencies:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

The Department of Homeland Security works in the civilian sphere to prepare for, prevent, and respond to domestic emergencies, particularly terrorism within, at, and directly outside U.S. borders. Veterans are often uniquely qualified to serve The Department of Homeland Security as Transportation Security Officers, Border Patrol agents, Homeland Security investigators, Federal Emergency Management Specialists, as well as in a variety of mission support positions.

If you were injured in the line of duty and are interested in a career with the Department of Homeland Security, you’ll be glad to know that they have special programs to assist you.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the division of Homeland Security responsible for coordinating the federal government’s response to both natural and manmade disasters. Careers at FEMA include everything from “boots on the ground” to office jobs. Opportunities are available across the U.S. and they include full-time employment, temporary employment,  and Reservist positions. Like most government agencies, FEMA offers excellent employee benefits.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is a federal law enforcement agency within the Department of Homeland Security. It employs 60,000 people and it operates in these two capacities:

1.) The U.S. Customs Office – responsible for collecting tariffs and for controlling the flow of goods, animals, personal items, and substances, into and out of our country. The positions available include officers, agents, many types of support personnel.

2.) The U.S. Border Patrol – responsible for securing our international land borders and coastal waters between ports of entry. According to the agency, working as a Border Patrol Agent requires courage and compassion, and adrenaline rushes are part of a typical day . Border Patrol Agents receive competitive pay and benefits.  In addition to those highly visible positions, the CBP has a multitude of other career opportunities both on the front lines and in support positions. According to the CBP, the agency is an excellent fit for veterans.

The U.S. Department of State (DOS)

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) is the diplomatic wing of the federal government. It handles matters concerning foreign affairs with other nations and international bodies. Its primary job is to promote American foreign policy throughout the world. The DOS offers a vast spectrum of employment opportunities including both civil service jobs and meaningful positions at 270 posts overseas.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Is the primary investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. It operates within the U.S., is threat-focused and has both intelligence and law enforcement responsibilities. Working for the FBI doesn’t limit you to being an agent or forensic investigator. The variety of exciting career paths they offer is surprisingly diverse.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has no law enforcement function. Its primary purpose is gathering, processing, and analyzing national security information from around the world. Whether you want the challenge and excitement of working in a clandestine position, the predictability of an administrative job, an analytical job that requires intellectual rigor, or employment that uses your existing credentials in a fresh, new way, the CIA offers promising career paths for specialists and generalists in a multitude of fields.

Last, but certainly not least, it’s important to know that Federal Government jobs are filled according to different protocols than jobs in the private sector.

If you’re interested in a job with a federal agency or any other branch of the Federal Government, you’ll be encouraged to know that in many cases, veterans and their family members have a distinct advantage. The Veteran’s Employment Initiative was put into effect in 2009 to ensure that you have a strategic career advocate to help you have a successful transition to a rewarding new career.





Future Looks Bright in Eye Care Careers

Eye Care Degrees and Scholarships

If you’ve ever considered a career in eye care, you’ll be pleased to know that the employment outlook is good. Growth in the market is steady and predictable. The population is aging, and once people reach the age of forty, they tend to need more help with vision correction and other eye-related concerns than before. On top of that, the U.S. population continues to grow.

Eye care is a profession that weathers economic downturns better than many others since it’s essential. Best of all, eye care professionals make a meaningful difference in their patients’ lives.

Options For a Career in Eye Care

If you want a career in eye care, you can become an optician, and optometrist or an ophthalmologist.


Help fit eyeglasses, contact lenses, and other vision correcting devices. They’re always in demand, and the pay ranges from about $38,000 – $55,000 per year, depending on where they’re employed. If you want to learn to become an optician, it may interest you to know that The Army Reserve is currently offering positions as an Optical Laboratory Specialist (68H). The training process for this position includes 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training followed by 24 weeks of Advanced Individual Training.

Optometrists (ODs)

Doctors who examine, diagnose, and treat visual problems, diseases, and injuries of the eye. Optometrists have a four year college degree, plus four additional years of specialized graduate training that consists of a mixture of classroom courses and supervised clinical work.

Optometry school is competitive and rigorous. You’ll need to pass the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) to get in, and get licensed in the state in which you wish to practice, and complete continuing education courses throughout your career. However, that level of dedication has its rewards.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) demand for optometrists is growing 10% faster than most other careers. The income can be excellent as well. In 2019, the BLS reported that their average salary at $115,250 per year, which comes to $55.41 per hour.


Medical doctors (MDs) who are licensed to practice eye surgery. Typical training includes a four-year college degree followed by at least eight years of additional specialized medical training.

A career in any facet of medicine is a big commitment.  Interviewing and/or shadowing professionals in the eye care career you’re considering —especially those who have recently graduated — will help you know what you’re getting into before you apply.

GI Bill Approved Optometry Degree Programs

A huge part of the commitment you’re facing when choosing higher education is financial. You can save thousands of dollars by choosing a GI Bill approved program such as those at:


>> Find GI Bill-approved optometry, ophthalmology and optician degree programs with CollegeRecon’s School Finder here.


Speaking of money, if you become an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist, the primary government program worth pursuing is Public Student Loan Forgiveness.

This program allows ODs employed by a non profit 501(c)3 organization (such as a VA hospital) to make a total of 10 years minimum monthly payments and have their loans forgiven after that point.

Optometry Scholarships

In addition, there are scholarships available. Three notable optometry scholarships include:

The Advancement of Optometry Scholarship

Awards: 51 Scholarships. Amount varies.

For students enrolled full time at schools and colleges of optometry.

Deadline: April 10

For more information and to apply for this scholarship: VSP Global

The Vistakon Awd of Excel in Contact Lens Patient Care

Awards: Multiple scholarships. Varying amounts.

Any fourth year student attending any school or college of optometry.

Deadline: December 31

For more information and to apply for this scholarship: VSP Global

The Bernard Maitenaz Scholarship

Awards: $10,000

For third year optometry students in good academic standing who demonstrate financial need.

Deadline: October 31

For more information and to apply for this scholarship: AOA Foundation


>> Find scholarships for military, veterans, spouses and dependents with the CollegeRecon Scholarship Finder





Veterinary Technology: Great Degrees for Portable Careers

Great Degrees for Portable Careers: Veterinary Technology

A degree in veterinary technology can open doors to a rewarding career helping animals and their people. Great paying job opportunities in both the public and private sectors can be found across all 50 states and overseas in organizations such as:

  • Civilian veterinary office
  • Military installation veterinary center
  • Emergency animal medical clinic
  • Municipal animal welfare organizations
  • Non-profit animal advocacy groups
  • Education and outreach organizations
  • Ranches
  • Zoos
  • Research and development

A degree in veterinary technology is available as an associate degree or as a bachelor’s degree. It may also be referred to as a degree in animal nursing. A veterinary technology program may also be offered through an animal sciences or agri-sciences program or as a precursor for a pre-veterinary medicine program.

With a degree in veterinary technology, the jobs one will be qualified for will vary by degree level and by state. Certification and licensing requirements also vary greatly by state.

Luckily, many states offer reciprocity for veterinary technology certifications so being licensed in one state may transfer (with or without restrictions) upon moving. This is, of course, of the utmost importance for military members and spouses seeking a degree and career that is portable across their many moves.

Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology

>> Find GI Bill-approved associate degree programs in Veterinary Technology here or certificate programs here.

An Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology is a great starting point for those interested in helping animals and their people.

Please note that although terminology and requirements vary by state, a veterinary technician (vet tech) will likely require a person be certified and/or licensed. Typically this requires sitting for a national exam, which the Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology will more than adequately prepare the student for.

A student who earns an Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology that chooses not to get certified still has a very valuable degree and experience that will open up many career opportunities.

Areas of study and experience covered by a vet tech program (and the national exam) include:

  • animal husbandry and care
  • biology and biochemistry
  • anatomy and physiology
  • disease and injury pathology
  • anesthesia
  • pharmaceuticals
  • surgical nursing
  • dentistry
  • laboratory procedure
  • diagnostic tools such as radiography, sonograms, etc.

In order to make the most of your education and future career path, if you intend on becoming certified as a vet tech it is important that your chosen school and their vet tech program be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). You can check a school’s accreditation here.

Jobs with an Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology:

  • Veterinary Assistant- Assist in the care of animals including veterinary and laboratory settings. Median annual salary: $30,000.
  • Veterinary Technician– Assist in the examination, diagnosis, and treatment of animals. Median annual salary: $35,000.
  • Animal Control Worker– Municipal job engaged in the control of abandoned, dangerous, or unattended animals. Also involved in the investigation of mistreatment of animals. Median annual salary: $39,000.

Bachelor’s Degree in Veterinary Technology

>> Find GI Bill-approved bachelor degree programs in Veterinary Technology here.

Students can earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Veterinary Technology and choose a specialty focus such as dentistry, anesthesia, internal medicine, equine medicine, or zoological studies.

The distinction of earning a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school and program earns the recipient the elevated title (and pay) of vet technologist vs a vet technician. Consequently, vet technologists are often in supervisory roles and may even choose to enter into fields such as veterinary research or education.

While earning a bachelor’s degree in an accredited school and program, a student seeking to be a certified veterinary technologist would also complete the same national certification that is required of vet techs in the state. Some states don’t recognize the distinction between vet techs vs technologists although the bachelor’s degree speaks for itself when it comes to job opportunities and salary negotiations!

Jobs you can obtain with a Bachelor’s in Veterinary Technology include:

  • Animal Shelter Manager-Can be found as a municipal job or through a non-profit organization. Responsible for day-to-day operations and animal welfare. Median annual salary: $40,000.
  • Veterinary Technologist– Assist in the examination, diagnosis, and treatment of animals. Median annual salary: $48,000.
  • Clinical Laboratory Veterinary Technologist– Collect samples and perform tests to analyze animals for purposes of testing, research, and/or product development. Median annual salary: $53,000.

Master’s Degree

>> Find GI Bill-approved master degree programs in Veterinary Technology here.

Although you won’t find a master’s degree in veterinary technology, there are a growing variety of master’s degrees and graduate certificates catering to those already working in veterinary medicine. One can typically find a graduate program in the sciences with an emphasis on veterinary sciences or a sub-specialty such a shelter medicine or aquatic animal health.

Those earning a master’s degree or graduate certificate can:

  • have additional earning power
  • undertake supervisory roles
  • enter into research and publishing
  • explore the veterinary medical industry such as animal feeds and pharmaceuticals
  • transition into teaching postsecondary students

Veterinary Technician Degree Programs

Ready to start your degree program for veterinary technician? It is important to note that a degree in veterinary technology (or similar) will not be offered entirely online due to the academic requirements of clinical rotations, hand-on experience, etc.

Check out these great programs available at our partner schools:

Lone Star College

Has a 3-tier (stackable) program that can culminate in an Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology. While some students may choose to enter directly into the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Vet Tech program, others may choose to work their way through the first two certificate levels (Veterinary Assistant Certificates Levels 1 and 2). These programs are fully accredited by the AVMA.

Post University

Offers an undergraduate Certificate in Equine Veterinary Assistant and a Bachelor of Science in Equine Studies. Post University is a Yellow Ribbon School.

New England Institute of Technology

Offers an Associate of Science in Veterinary Technology Degree. This program is fully accredited by the AVMA. New England Institute of Technology is also a Yellow Ribbon School.

The University of Cincinnati

Offers something completely different with a Certificate of Animal Audiology. Although veterinarians have access to the BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) test to assess the hearing of animals, a trained audiologist is still the best option to diagnose audiological issues.

The University of Cincinnati is the only university in the nation that teaches animal audiology to its audiology students through the school’s FETCHLAB. Upon completion of this certificate, the recipient is uniquely qualified to assess and diagnose hearing issues in animals. Read more about the FETCHLAB and this one-of-a-kind program here.

*All average annual salaries adapted and calculated from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. For more information click here.



Transferable Skills Every Military Member Should Highlight

Transferable Skills Every Military Member Should Highlight

When applying for a job it is important to highlight yourself in areas you might fall short. Businesses are increasingly seeing the value of hiring from the military community and often take experience over education. Military members operate with a “mission-critical” mindset, elevating their performance to a higher level. These transferable” skills are valuable across all industries and should be used to your advantage.

Transferable Skills Gained through the Military


It is important to highlight that you are confident in your leadership ability, can motivate a team, and lead by example. Military members are often called to lead by example, through direction, delegation, and motivation. These are positive leadership skills that inspire people and showcase your ability to achieve results and manage staff.


Show that you can start and finish a project with little to no guidance. Those who have been in the military long enough know that being able to start and finish a task with little to no guidance happens daily. This ability turns veterans into self-starts who can anticipate project needs.


Being able to change gears at a moment’s notice and handle any situation that comes your way is a critical skill. Adaptability is hugely emphasized in the military community as the ability to adapt to a new direction at any level of a project or situation is a powerful skill. This can be shown through last-minute taskings or changing deadlines.


Integrity is a highly valued trait that speaks to your character, employers want to know they can trust you. There are many ways integrity can be shown through decision-making in areas such as resource allocation, one’s behavior, and implementation of guidelines or procedures.

Effective Communication

Military members have been trained to communicate with a wide range of personalities and ranks clearly and respectfully. Everyone has value and military members have been trained to communicate effectively in any situation. Communication up chain and down chain requires clear concise effective communication.


Top candidates for upper management positions can successfully express their experience and success with multi-dimensional teams. Military members are trained in team-oriented environments that promote coordination and collaboration.


Being able to anticipate problems and handle problems that arise quickly with seamless execution is a desirable skill.

Highlight your transferable skill as a problem solver.  This will show your ability to handle people, processes, and resources at a moment’s notice. This skill also showcases your ability to direct or establish systematic planning.


Military operations require extensive planning and workload management. Being able to take ideas that are not your own and implement and execute the plan only enhance the organization.

Highlighting this underrated transferable skill shows that you:

  • Have a strong work ethic
  • Have company loyalty
  • Are competent
  • Can practice discretion
  • Are not driven by ego or pride

Financial Responsibility

It is important to share financial experience relating to budgeting, contract management, resource allocation, or financial management.

When it comes to financial tasks in the military there is no room for error.  Highlighting your military-related financial responsibility will mean a great deal to a prospective employer.

Maintaining personal financial stability is also a transferable skill.  This can be critical for those who have had to maintain a top-secret security clearance.

Highlighting Transferable Skills on a Resume and Cover Letter

It is important to not only highlight transferable skills but to translate military skills into terms to the civilian world can value. Make sure to choose a resume template employers can easily read that showcases your transferable skills. Military One Source is a great resource for more tips on how to write a resume.

The cover letter is your opportunity to highlight transferable skills that align with the job description. It is crucial to tailor each cover letter to the position you are applying for. Explain a change in career, how transferable skills apply, and why you are the best fit. Remember to provide short strategic examples.



Health Information Management Careers for Military, Veterans & Spouses

Health Information Management Careers for Active Duty, Veterans and Military Spouses

Careers in Health Information Management (HIM) are among the fastest growing occupations in the US. The massive amount of data generated in healthcare – much of which is personal information that it protected by law – requires trained individuals to effectively manage it.

Health information includes any data related to healthcare – diagnoses, health history, medical procedures, lab results, or x-ray images. Managing this data involves collection, analysis, and ensuring its protection. Health information differs from other types of data in that it is protected by law.

HIPAA – A Brief History and Explanation

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was signed into law in 1996 to improve the portability of health insurance for employees changing jobs. HIPPA encouraged a shift from paper to electronic medical records.

HIPAA includes rules that define what counts as protected health information (Privacy Rule), explain how protected information is safeguarded (Security Rule), and outlines consequences of failure to follow safeguards (Enforcement Rule).

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) came into play in 2009 and accelerated the use of electronic medical records.

HIPAA is the set of rules that demands data security in healthcare. Together with HITECH, it accelerated the amount of electronic data produced by healthcare. This results in a high demand for Health Information Management Careers in order to manage a large amount of data according to the laws designed to protect it.

Health Information Management Certifications

Medical coding is the translation of health information into universal alphanumeric codes. Closely related, medical billing involves filing claims with health insurance companies based on the translated information. Other roles related to HIM include auditing, compliance, and management.

Careers in HIM often allow people to work in healthcare with little to no contact with patients. Training generally involves learning coding systems like ICD-10 and CPT, anatomy, medical terminology, and principles of data security and management.

The three leading certification bodies for Health Information Management are The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), and Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

AHIMA Certifications in HIM

Registered –

  • Health Information Administrator (RHIA)
  • Health Information Technician (RHIT)

Certified –

  • Coding Associate (CCA)
  • Coding Specialist (CCS)
  • Documentation Improvement Practitioner (CDIP)
  • Coding Specialist – Physician-based (CCS-P)
  • Health Data Analyst (CHDA)
  • Healthcare Privacy and Security (CHPS)

AAPC Certifications in HIM


  • Professional Coder (CPC)
  • Outpatient Coder (COC)
  • Inpatient Coder (CIC)
  • Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC)
  • Professional Biller (CPB)
  • Professional Medical Auditor (CPMA)
  • Documentation Expert Outpatient (CDEO)
  • Professional Compliance Officer (CPCO)
  • Physician Practice Manager (CPPM)

HIMSS Certifications in HIM


  • Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CAHIMS)
  • Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS)

Do HIM Careers Require a Degree?

Some do. An associate degree is required for RHIT. A Bachelor’s degree is required for RHIA or CPHIMS certification. Training for many HIM certifications can be completed online in a matter of months and does not require completion of a degree.

Salary increases with education level.  Average salary ranges are:

  • Associate degree – $20 – 30,000
  • Bachelor degrees – $30 – 50,000 at entry level

Learn about GI-Bill Approved Schools with Healthcare Administration programs through a simple College Recon search.

Student Memberships

While certification does not require membership, joining a professional organization can offer significant financial and educational benefits. All 3 organizations listed above offer the following discounted student memberships.

  • AAPC – $90 student membership
  • AHIMA – $49 student membership
  • HIMSS – $30 student membership

Can I Work in HIM Without Certification?

Maybe. However, certification validates skills in a particular role. The HIM certifications listed above are nationally recognized. This shows potential employers that you are qualified, increases likelihood of hire, improves career portability, and can lead to higher salary than someone who does not hold a certification.

Affordable Training and Certification for HIM Careers

Members of the military community have multiple opportunities to complete training and certification in HIM.

Credentialing Assistance Programs

Any active duty service members can earn any of the HIMSS or AHIMA certifications through this credentialing assistance program. Credentialing assistance programs include:

  • Army COOL
  • Coast Guard COOL
  • Marine Corps COOL
  • Navy COOL
  • Air Force COOL
  • DoD Civilian COOL


AAPC is offering significantly discounted training – up to 57% off – until June 30th.


It may require some digging to find a Massive Open Online Class (MOOC) that leads to eligibility for certification. However, tons of MOOCS related to HIM are available. MOOCs courses available cover topics like data analytics and management – and are often free.


Recently expanded, the MyCAA program is available to certain military spouses. Eligible spouses can receive up to $4,000 in tuition assistance over two years for an associate degree, obtaining a license, or complete certification in any career field.


There are multiple scholarships available for those pursuing a career in HIM. Keep in mind that membership to an organization can boost the competitiveness of a scholarship application.

  • The AHIMA Foundation offers 4 merit-based scholarships for students pursuing degrees related to AHIMA Certifications. These scholarships range from $1,000-$2,500.
  • The HIMSS Foundation offers multiple scholarships. The Georgia, New England and South Florida HIMSS chapters sponsor additional scholarships.





Mechanical Engineering: Degrees, Jobs and Scholarships

Getting a Degree in Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering is one of the many different engineering degrees you could choose to study. It is all about the study of objects and systems in motion, touching every aspect of modern life. It is one of the oldest of the engineering disciplines, combining engineering, physics, and mathematics.

While studying mechanical engineering you would learn and use tools such as CAD (computer-aided design), CAM (computer-aided manufacturing), industrial equipment, and machinery, heating and cooling systems, transport systems, watercraft, robots, and more.

Mechanical engineering first emerged during the Industrial Revolution in Europe in the 18th century. It has centered on creating technologies to meet human needs. As a mechanical engineer, you would work in offices, visit worksites, or even work in research and development.

Associate’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering

Getting an associate’s degree in mechanical engineering would be a good way to prepare for a bachelor’s or to assist engineers in that type of role. The degree will take you about two years and you should be able to find both online and in-person programs.

While getting your associate’s degree you would most likely take classes in physics, chemistry, math, and calculus to help prepare you for bachelor’s level work in the future.

Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering

Most employers hiring for mechanical engineering related jobs will want people with at least a bachelor’s degree from an ABET (Accredited Board for Engineering and Technology) institution. You would probably take classes in intermediate and advanced mathematics, life and physical sciences, engineering and design, CAD, fluid mechanics, terminal design, magnetism and aerodynamics, and circuits. A bachelor’s degree should take you four years total, two years if you have already received your associate’s degree.

You should be able to find either an in-person or online bachelor’s degree program to study mechanical engineering. For online programs, The University of Alabama, Old Dominion University, and Indiana State University all have highly rated programs. For in-person programs, Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Brown University all have highly rated programs.

Jobs For Those With a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering

  •  Design Engineers, who use CAD software to develop, test, and improve manufacturing processes and product designs, have an average salary of $74,298, according to Glassdoor as of June 2020.
  • Aerospace Engineers, who work on the development of aircraft, spaceships, satellites, and weapon systems, have an average salary of $79,714, according to Glassdoor, as of June 2020.
  • Robotics Engineers, who are responsible for creating robots and robotic systems for tasks that humans can’t or have a hard time doing, have an average salary of $75,487, according to Glassdoor as of June 2020.

Master’s Degrees

A master’s degree in mechanical engineering can be a good idea for those who want to pursue a more professional type of job. Some of the courses you might take would be in statistics and mechanics of materials, mechanical engineering dynamics, and intro to mechanics. A master’s degree should take you around two years to achieve.

You should be able to find either an in-person or online master’s degree program to study mechanical engineering. For online programs, Stanford University, The University of Florida, and the Georgia Institute of Technology all have highly rated programs. For in-person programs, Stanford University, California Institute of Technology, and the University of California at Berkeley all have highly rated programs.

Jobs For Those With a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering:

  • Petroleum Engineers, who design equipment used to extract gas and oil from offshore and onshore reserves deep underground, have an average salary of $104,917, according to Glassdoor, as of June 2020.
  • Nuclear Engineers, who research and develop the processes instruments and systems used to derive benefits from nuclear energy and radiation, have an average salary of $77,122, according to Glassdoor, as of May 2020.
  • Process Development Engineers, who are responsible for designing and developing processes to optimize process flow, reduce variability within the process, improve operating capabilities, and help ensure workers’ safety, have an average salary of $78,496, according to Glassdoor as of June 2020.

Doctorate Degrees

If you do decide to go on for your doctorate in mechanical engineering, you can take your career even further and it will give you the ability to make more money overall. You would study subjects such as fluid mechanics and dynamics, hydraulics, and mechanism design.

Related Majors: Nuclear engineering, materials engineering, and mineral engineering.

Licensing: Mechanical engineers do need to earn licensure as a Professional Engineer (PE) in all 50 states. The requirements would be to have a bachelor’s degree from a four-year institution accredited by ABET and work experience under a licensed engineer. You must also pass the Fundamentals of Engineering and Principles and Practice of Engineering tests.

Mechanical Engineering Scholarships

Getting your degree in mechanical engineering means you can apply for certain scholarships that specialize in engineering or similar degrees. Here are a couple of them:

ASME Scholarship

This scholarship, from The American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation, is a grant made to a student to enable or assist the student in pursuing an educational program in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology at the undergraduate or graduate level.

Students must have an ASME student membership, and they must be accepted and enrolled full-time in an ABET-accredited school for the entire academic year. The scholarships are around $10,000 and given to multiple students.

For more info, please go here.

The AESF Foundation Scholarship

This scholarship is available to undergraduates and graduates that are studying:

  • Chemical Engineering
  • Material Science or Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Metallurgical Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Chemistry

They also need to be in junior status or above when applying and senior status in the fall. The awards are $1,500 each.

For more info, please go here.

For more scholarship info for veterans, service members and their families, please visit our Scholarships page.





Welding: A Wise Career Choice

How to Pursue a Career in Welding

Does the thought of sitting behind a desk put you to sleep? If you want great money, great job security, and interesting work without spending years in school, a career in welding may be your best bet.

America is in desperate need of welders. Older welders are reaching retirement age, and younger welders aren’t replacing them fast enough. According to the American Welding Society, the average age of a welder today is 55, and less than 20% of today’s welders are under the age of 35.  Unless people step up now, the projected shortage will be at 400,000 welders by 2024.

Those jobs aren’t going away. Welders will always be needed, indoors and outdoors —from the bottom of the ocean to outer space and everywhere in between — as long the things people build and repair are made of metal.

That means that along with job security and importance, skilled welders have the flexibility to switch industries or move to new locations without changing careers. Best of all, having a successful welding career doesn’t depend on connections or a college degree, it depends on how skilled you are, how far you’re willing to travel, and what kinds of assignments you’ll accept.

Most employers require welding job candidates to pass a hands-on test.  In addition to mastering the physical skills, welders need to know how to read blueprints, develop a sharp eye for detail, and a demonstrate a fairly high level of physical stamina. Good hand-eye coordination and a mindset for safety are also very important.

A highly-skilled welder can earn as much as a doctor or lawyer. Traveling industrial pipe welders earn anywhere from $50,000.00 – $185,000.00 a year. Underwater welders can earn from $100,000.00 over $200,000. 00 a year. Military support welders can earn from $160,000.00 to more than $200,000.00 a year in the Middle East. Welders who travel for a living are called “Road Warriors.”  Many of them do contract work that allows them to take long stretches of time off.  Welding inspectors have less strenuous jobs and still earn about $70,000 per year.

You can earn a welding certificate in as little as nine months, though depending on your long-term goals and your interest in schooling, an associates, or even bachelors degree might be a better choice.

The vast majority welding students are offered good jobs before they graduate. The well-known Fab School in Rancho Cucamonga, California, for example, reports a a 95% Career Placement Rate and a 97% on-time graduation rate.

Welding Scholarships

The GI Bill will fund a trade school education. In addition, there are lots of welding scholarships available. Here are just a few:

American Welding Society (AWS) Scholarship

Amount: $1,000 (25+ scholarships)

For students seeking welder training in a certificate program less than two years in length through a trade school, community college, or other facility providing welder training.

Deadlines: Varied

To learn more about these scholarships or to apply visit:

AWS Foundation Scholarships

Deadlines: Varied

For women pursuing a degree in a welding or welding-related educational program.

To learn more about these scholarships or to apply visit:

Air Products Women of Gases & Welding Scholarship

Amount: $2,500

To learn more about these scholarships or to apply visit: air-products-women

There are also a huge number of school-specific and location-specific welding scholarships out there.

Your military experience helped you develop strong decision making skills, good communication skills, and a solid work ethic. Bringing those qualities to a field where you’re desperately needed might be one of the best choices you’ll ever make.





Hands-On Job Experience For Student Veterans

6 Ways for Veterans to Get Hands-on Job Experience While Still in School

You’ve got lots of book learning, right? You’ve had plenty of lectures, theories, papers and more. But what about hands-on learning, the kind that proves to potential employers that you’re more than just book-smart.

Here are 6 hands-on ways to develop knowledge, skills and experience in your academic field or career interest area.

  • Co-Op
  • Fellowship
  • Internship
  • Job Shadow
  • Volunteer
  • Work-Study

If you are using veteran education benefits, you may be able to receive funding for housing, tuition and books with some of them.


Co-Op is short for Cooperative Education. They are set up between a schools and businesses. Co-Ops allow students to attend school and get paid to work at a company, non-profit or government agency on a long term basis. Most Co-Op programs are between 3 and 12 months long. They can be part or full-time paid jobs.

Some Co-Op programs alternate work periods with your school terms.  Others allow you to study part-time and work part-time. Depending on the program, it is possible to also receive academic credit for the Co-Op experience. Contact your academic advisor or program coordinator for more information on Co-Op programs.

According to the VA, you may be able to get money for housing, tuition and books during a Co-Op. Your benefits advisor will be able to tell you if a program is eligible.


Fellowships have unique characteristics. According to the website, ProFellow, they usually target graduate and post-graduate students. They are designed for professional development or have a focus on academic research. They are tied to special projects or research topics of interest to the organization offering them. The pay structure of most fellowships is stipend based, not an hourly wage.

There are many fellowships especially for veterans. Fellowships are available in fields such as medicine, security and communications.  They are offered by service support organizations like the  VFW, non-profits, corporations and even the federal government.

You can find fellowships with an internet search and talking to your academic advisor.

RELATED: New Virtual Paid Fellowship


An internship is a paid or unpaid short term, temporary position with a business or organization that gives experience in a career field or job. Every industry has internship options. There are internships with corporations, non-profits, all levels of government, and businesses of all sizes.

You may be able to receive VA education benefits for housing, tuition and books during an internship. It will depend on if you are attending an accredited school, already using VA education benefits and whether the internship is required by your educational program.

Contact your academic advisor or training program coordinator and your VA benefits office for more information.


Job Shadow

A job shadow is spending a day or two with someone actually doing the job you are interested in.

Doing a few job shadows may be the most important thing you can do before committing to a school or training program. The discoveries you make can save you time and money.  They can also open the door to internship and employment opportunities later.

You can set up job shadows by asking folks in your network or contacting veteran friendly companies you are interested in.


Volunteering doesn’t just give you hands-on learning in a field you are interested in.

You may not be actively job hunting yet, but if you are…a study from the Corporation for National and Community Service found that people who volunteer are 27% more likely to get a job.

It turns out, volunteers “demonstrate higher levels of capacity, potentially making the volunteer more attractive to and productive for employers.”

You can find volunteer opportunities with an internet search, by asking folks in your network and contacting veteran friendly companies and non-profits.


A work-study program gives students a part-time job to help pay for school or training expenses. Jobs are available in many career areas. In addition to the financial need based federal work-study program, the VA has a work-study program. There are 4 requirements. You must be:

  • Enrolled at least three-quarter time in a college degree, vocational, or professional program
  • Have found an open job either at a nearby VA facility or in a VA-related role at your school
  • Able to finish the work-study contract while you still qualify for education benefits
  • Using an approved VA education benefits program to pay for your education or training

You can do any of these 6 hands-on programs while enrolled in a school or training program. Check with your academic advisor or training program coordinator to see what options you have. Don’t miss a great opportunity to get industry specific, hands-on experience that sets you up for career success.





Internships for Veterans – The 5 W’s

Internships for Veterans – The 5 W’s

You probably already know that companies want to hire veterans. Veterans bring knowledge, skills and abilities that can’t be taught in school. Leadership, discipline and adaptability are just a few of them.

Internships can make a clear path to the front of the applicant line. With the right one, you might be able to skip the line completely.

The 5 W’s of Internships for Veterans

  • Why you should do an internship
  • Who can get them
  • What kind of internships are available
  • When to look for them
  • Where to find them

An internship is a paid or unpaid temporary position with a business or organization that gives a person experience in a career field or job they’re interested in. Every industry has internship options. There are internships with corporations, non-profits, all levels of government, and businesses of all sizes.

More and more companies are creating internships. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 2019 was the third year in a row that employers increased internship positions. For veterans and transitioning service members, it means even more opportunities are out there.

Why You Should Do an Internship

  • Internships are more than just a temporary job – they’re an opportunity to permanently level up your knowledge, skills and abilities
  •  Internships lead to jobs – over 50% of interns are offered jobs at the company where they do their internship
  • Interns keep their jobs – after five years, employees who did internships have a higher retention rate than those who didn’t
  • Interns get paid to learn – the average pay rate is over $19 an hour according to NACE
  • Veterans can check a job fit – get the inside scoop on culture, training and promotion possibilities
  • Internships grow networks – 70% of jobs come from networking and your internship co-workers become part of yours

Who Can Get Internships

Internships are for veterans interested in getting hands-on experience and growing their networks in a career field. They are not just for students.

Transitioning service members are perfect candidates for internships.  Veterans entering or returning to the workforce can build skills and develop professional networks with them.

Recent graduates can launch their careers with them. Internships also offer a great opportunity for mid-level professionals to expand their skills and explore new industries.

What Kinds of Internships are Available

Internships are as different as the organizations that offer them.

They can be full time, part time, paid, unpaid, seasonal, project-based or long term. Some programs give you academic credit for your internship.

Think beyond traditional summertime academic internships for students. For instance, Goldman Sachs offers a Veterans Integration Program (VIP) in the spring for veterans with at least one year of service and an interest in financial markets. A veteran friendly hospital in Las Vegas has ongoing internships for licensed healthcare professionals. Non-profits are another source of paid and unpaid internships.

The Los Angeles County Veterans’ Internship Program has 12 and 24 month paid internship programs. The Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs has a Do It Yourself (DIY) internship program to help you build your own.

Veterans get hiring preferences for paid federal internships, not just jobs. Most federal agencies offer internships. Did you know that military commands offer internships? For example, U.S. Southern Command offers both paid and unpaid internships.

When to Look for an Internship

When to start looking for an internship depends on your status and timeline.

  • Student veterans – as soon as you start your school or training, start thinking about when and where you might want to intern

Internships are available throughout your entire academic career, from freshman to post-doctoral. The application process usually requires references, proof of grades and military service, and other information you will need time to gather. Check with your academic advisor for information on program requirements and deadlines.

  • Recent Graduates – don’t wait until after you graduate to set up your internship

Having an internship set up at a great company before you get your diploma can be a great way to get your foot in the door for a job there. If you got a late start, don’t worry. Many recent graduate programs allow you up to a year after graduation to apply for an internship position.

Some internship programs, like OPM’s Recent Graduate Program, can hire you from an internship right into a federal job. Many corporate and civilian internships for recent graduates do the same.

  • Transitioning Service Members – timing is especially important for transitioning service members

Time your internship to your terminal leave dates or EAS. Consider a non-paid internship while you are still drawing a paycheck and then pick up a paid one to gain even more experience and networking opportunities.

Through the SkillBridge program, you can have a paid internship for the last 180 days of your active service. The time it takes to get it set up varies and requires command approval. Check with your base Transition Office or Education Office for more information.

The Hiring our Heroes program connects “transitioning service members with professional training and hands-on experience in the civilian workforce.” Sessions run throughout the year and information is posted on their website.

  • Mid-career veterans, unemployed veterans and veterans returning to the workforce – timing a mid-career or workforce re-entry internship depends on you and your goals

Non- academic corporate and non-profit internships are a growing trend. Companies such as Bank of America offer internship programs specifically targeting unemployed veterans. The public relations firm, Wunderlich Kaplan Communications, started “The Enternship”, a “program to help women over 40 to return to work.”

Non-profits offer internship options that give you a chance to use your professional skills to explore a special interest, make a difference and expand your professional network.

Where to Find Internships for Veterans

There are a many ways for veterans to find internships.

  • Dedicated internet sites – a popular one is Enter “veteran” in the search function
  • Google search – use “veteran internship” and keywords for an industry, location or company
  • USAJOBS – your veteran preference applies to federal internships that can turn into jobs without additional application requirements
  • College/Alumni groups – some have internship agreements with businesses who don’t advertise openings to the general public
  • Linked In – check the Student Jobs portal, contact recruiters directly and tell your connections you’re looking for an internship
  • DIY – make your own internship by setting up an informational interview at a veteran friendly company, pitching your skills, explaining how an internship could help them, and asking for the chance to make it happen

Internships are valuable tools for veterans. It doesn’t matter if you are transitioning from active duty, attending a school or a training program, entering or re-entering the workforce. Internships give veterans experience and networking advantages that make a difference no matter where you are in their career path.





Hot Prospects for HVAC Technicians

Hot Prospects for HVAC Technicians

When it comes to stability and a promising job market, you can’t go wrong getting skilled in a trade.  If you’re looking for a trade that offers job growth and a relatively short training time, you may want to consider becoming an HVAC technician. HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Refrigeration usually falls into that category, too. It’s an industry for  hard workers who like going to different locations, meeting new people, and troubleshooting different problems all the time.

HVAC techs need to have a mechanical aptitude, a mind for details, and enough proficiency in math to calculate the load requirements that ensure equipment properly heats and cools. They also need good customer service skills since they’re likely to be working in customers’ homes or business offices. This trade is particularly physically demanding. Techs often find themselves working in an attics and crawlspaces when temperatures are extreme. It routinely requires lifting, moving, and repairing large equipment. In addition, Techs have to be amenable to making service calls at odd hours, including weekends.

But contrary to popular misconceptions, HVAC isn’t strictly a seasonal industry. During the summer HVAC techs are busy with air conditioning, and in the fall and winter they’re busy running maintenance on on cooling systems and installing heaters. This industry is relatively recession proof, too. No matter what the economy is doing, people always need cooling and heating.

Employment in the HVAC industry is projected to grow 13-15 percent between now and 2028— meaning it will add over 40,000 fresh openings to the existing pool of 350,000+ working HVAC mechanics and installers around the country. That rate of growth is a lot faster than the average for other occupations.

HVAC pay depends on credentials, industry, employer, skill level, and level of experience, as well as geographic location.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual income for HVAC jobs is $47,080 (about $23 per hour), though most techs end up working some overtime which boosts their annual earnings. Techs who can combine sales skills with new installations stand to earn a good deal more. HVAC techs in Alaska can earn as much as $39.00 per hour.

Technologies keep evolving while existing equipment keeps aging. HVAC is an industry that’s always striving to develop more efficient, effective, and environmentally friendly ways to operate. As systems become more complex and computerized, technicians who want to earn top dollar need to stay abreast of the latest developments. Candidates who don’t care to continue to learn need not apply.

The requirements for becoming an HVAC technician differ from state to state. Though certification isn’t legally required in every location, it’s widely recognized in the field because it validates the technician’s knowledge. In order to receive certification, technicians must pass a knowledge-based exam. You can earn an HVAC technician certificate in as little as six months, though if you want a more robust career, there are associates degree programs that are more comprehensive and take up to two years to complete.

Veterans can apply for benefits and training with in a variety of HVAC programs through the GI Bill Education benefits (Post-9/11 GI Bill Apprenticeship Program). In addition, there are scholarships available. Here are a few:

EGIA Foundation HVAC Scholarship

Awards: $2,500 annually to 20 students.

For who are interested in or currently pursuing a degree or technical certificate in the areas of HVAC, especially at the residential level. This can also include an interest in green or sustainable home design and technology.

Deadline: March 31

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: EGIA Foundation

The Rees Scholarship Foundation

Awards: Up to $2,000 (multiple awards)

For future heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) technicians who are enrolled in an institutionally accredited school.

Deadline: June 1, October 1, 2020

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: Rees Scholarship Foundation

The Clifford “Ted” Rees, Jr.  Scholarship

Awards: $2,500 (multiple awards)

For future heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) technicians by awarding scholarships to qualified students who are enrolled in an institutionally accredited school.

Deadlines:  March 31 and October 1

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: Rees Foundation

The Plumberstock Scholarship Competition

Awards: $2,000 (one award); $500 (two awards)

For individuals currently studying to be plumbers, HVAC technicians, or sprinkler and irrigation specialists.

Deadline: March 31

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: Plumberstock

The PHCC Educational Foundation Scholarship

Awards: $1,000 to $5,000 (40+ awards available)

For students who want to pursue training in these three core fields (plumbing, heating, and cooling).

Deadline: May 1

Website for more information and to apply for this scholarship: PHCC Scholarship





Paid Federal Internships for Veterans

Veterans Receive Hiring Preferences for Paid Federal Internships

Using your GI Bill for college or a training program? Did you recently graduate from a school or training program?  Are you a veteran working toward an advanced degree? If so, you have a hiring preference that can put you on the fast track to a paid federal internship or fellowship.

Federal internships allow veterans an opportunity to smoothly transition from a paid internship into a federal job without re-applying or competing.

The 3 Programs: 2 Internships and 1 Fellowship

The federal government offers two types of internships and a fellowship through the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Pathways Programs. The three programs are:

  • Internship Program
  • Recent Graduates Program
  • Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program

Each hiring agency designs and administers their own Pathways programs based on OPM guidance. Applicants must demonstrate the necessary qualifications in their application package to be considered for a position.

For the selection process, according to the OPM Pathways Program website, “Agencies must apply veterans’ preference in accordance with the procedures outlined in 5 USC 3320 and 5 CFR 302, as well as any applicable agency-specific policies.” The same veteran hiring preferences that apply to federal jobs, apply to federal internships.

Federal hiring agencies can set up their OPM Pathways Programs to allow interns and fellows who successfully complete their programs to be hired into term or permanent positions without competition or re-application.

That means, depending on how the hiring agency sets up the program, it is possible to go directly from a paid internship or fellowship into a federal civil service job.

You can find current internships by typing “pathways internship” in the search bar on the USAJOBS website. Not all federal internships convert to jobs.  If the internship is set up to allow conversion to a job, the details and requirements will be included in the agency’s job announcement.

Each of the Pathways Programs addresses a different part of the veteran population.

Pathways Internship Program

Designed for students enrolled part or full-time in accredited schools or training programs, the Internship Program allows veterans to work part or full-time in a paid temporary position related to their academic career goals or job interests.

Participants sign an agreement with the hiring agency that covers what is expected of the intern. You can find federal internship positions with various agencies posted on USAJOBS.

Recent Graduates Program

The Recent Graduates Program allows hiring agencies to offer paid internships to people who have graduated from an accredited school within the last two years. The internship can be full or part-time.  After signing an agreement setting out expectations for the internship, participants receive mentoring, individual development plans and a minimum of 40 hours of training per year.

Veterans have up to six years to apply to a Recent Graduate Program if military obligations kept them from applying within two years after graduating.

Hiring agencies post Recent Graduate Program internship opportunities on the USAJOBS website. To find open positions, type “recent graduate” into the search bar.

Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program

The Presidential Management Fellows Program is a two year leadership development program for students pursuing advanced degrees. According to OPM, students must “demonstrate academic excellence, possess management and leadership potential, and have a clear interest in and commitment to public service.”  OPM announces the opportunity to apply for the program around late summer or early fall.

If selected, you will receive extensive career support and at least one developmental assignment.  The PMF website says, “After successful Program completion and job performance, the PMF may be converted to a permanent position (or, in some limited circumstances, a term appointment lasting 1-4 years) in the competitive service.” You can learn more about this program on USAJOBS under “Students & recent graduates.”

As a veteran, you can be on the fast track to an internship with the federal government that turns into a job you don’t have to re-compete for. Whether you are attending college or training program, just graduated, or want a career in the federal sector, OPM Pathways Programs help answer the question, “What’s next?”





Professional Development Opportunities Through MOOCs

Professional Development Opportunities Through MOOCs

In the digital age, we have found near-instantaneous ways to disseminate and intake relevant information. You can regularly hear the phrase, “Google it” uttered in a casual conversation. 81% of U.S. adults have a smartphone and 73% have access to the internet from the comfort of their homes. College has transformed from a structured, brick-and-mortar experience to a fully virtual, distance-learning enterprise. And taking that idea even further is the idea of Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs.

What is a MOOC?

If you’ve never heard of the term MOOC, it is an open-access learning course with (typically) free, unlimited participation to anyone with access to the internet.

Websites such as edX, coursera, P2PU, and others, have an array of interactive, communal-learning options to choose from. While you always have the option to enroll in most courses for free, by paying a small fee you can unlock additional content, and if desired, receive a completion certificate. Full certifications or specialty degree programs are also offered, but those will have more expensive fees attached to them.

MOOCs first came into existence in 2008 and morphed to full-power when The New York Times deemed 2012 “The Year of MOOC.” The main idea with these courses is that some of the best education in the world is readily available to anyone who seeks it out.

Classes are offered on an audit-like basis from any number of higher education institutions. Harvard offers courses in anything from anatomy to 19th-century opera to entrepreneurship, and beyond. You can enroll in a course about cybersecurity from MIT or cryptography from Stanford. Google conducts courses covering GitHub and Python, and even offers full certifications in IT support. The possibilities are vast and varied.

What you can expect is best described as an (often) self-paced barrage of useful data. The courses hold traditional material (like filmed lectures, suggested reading, comprehension questions, etc). But you also have the option to interact with other uses, create social media discussions, and provide feedback. You have to be self-motivated and accepting of the fact that it is an imperfect system.

The main question you may have is, why take one? The answer is simple: professional development. Add new, valuable skills to your resume, further learning in an area you already have some knowledge in, or simply showcase your ability to be a continuous learner to a potential employer. At minimum, it can be a great conversation point during an interview.

The Positives of MOOC’s

  • The structure provides easy access to higher education opportunities. Some organizations even offer full degree or simple certification programs (mostly in technology-related fields).
  • It’s Free(ish). The courses themselves are free in almost all circumstances. But if you wish to have a certificate to prove your completion, the average cost is between $25 to $50 depending on length and the organization offering the course. It’s more if you wish to do the full programs.
  • Allows for a flexible schedule. Most courses are self-paced. You can sit and do the entire thing in one go, or you can set a personal daily/weekly limit.
  • Provides a collaborative learning and sharing environment. People from around the world attend these courses. In addition to getting insight from differing perspectives, simply attending the course can allow you to add “team-player” or “networking pro” to your resume.

MOOC Drawbacks

  • Some users feel that the environment may allow for inconsistencies, ie: cheating, erroneous grading, lack of instructor connection/feedback, etc.
  • The time and effort it takes to complete some courses may be asking too much for a free online course. Students must be able to self-manage and follow-through.
  • Must have basic understanding of digital/technological learning.
  • Retention can be an issue. One bit of data said that 46,000 people enrolled in a software engineering course, but only 13,000 completed it.
  • Some higher education professionals fear that this structure will create two classes of learning: well-funded, substantial universities vs. value-pack, cookie-cutter institutions.

Ultimately, education should be attainable for all.  Any opportunity to learn, add skill sets to your resume, or simply expand your worldview is a great thing.  Even better when it is at virtually no monetary cost to you.

Even if you use the MOOC platform to dip your toe into a new endeavor before deciding to enroll in a higher education institution, it can be a useful tool to consider if you have a bit of free time on your hands.



Becoming an Electrician as a Veteran

Electricians Are in High Demand

If you like being hands-on, doing work that requires practical knowledge, and hope to earn while you learn instead of paying tuition, becoming an electrician may be the choice for you.

Electrical work isn’t repetitive or monotonous. Most electricians encounter and solve new problems every day. The job’s not glamorous, but it’s important.

Electricians are among the highest paid workers in the construction sector. They’re needed everywhere from Hollywood movie sets, to field jobs in all settings and locations, to the neighborhood you live in.

This broad spectrum of opportunities means you can move, travel far and wide, or stay right in your own hometown, without risking reliable employment.

Growing Opportunities for Electricians

Not only are there plenty of job opportunities today, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for electricians continues to be on the rise. The BLS estimates that job opportunities for electricians are growing 10% faster than average with no leveling off in sight. Meanwhile, many working electricians are moving toward retirement age.

Electricians need to be licensed, but no college degree is required. If you want to become an electrician you’ll need to complete an apprenticeship that includes both on-the-job training (OJT) and classroom instruction. You can go about this two different ways: get pre-apprenticeship training at a trade school or vocational college, or you apply for an apprenticeship directly and then take classes as you go.

Your Best Strategy?

Depending on your education and experience, your best strategy may be to get some schooling under your belt first. Most apprenticeships require an interview and an entrance exam that includes a lot of math questions — particularly algebra. If you lack-real world electrical experience and need some remedial math, don’t be discouraged. You can complete a trade school program in as little as nine months, and then go to work as an electrician assistant. But bear in mind that all vocational schools aren’t created equal. If you have a specific apprenticeship in mind, make sure to enroll in a certification program that your apprenticeship of choice will recognize.

Using your certificate or prior experience to get your foot in the door as an electrician assistant will  allow you to meet other electricians who can help you land your apprenticeship. When it comes to apprenticeships, again, there are several options to choose from.

Union Apprenticeships

There are union apprenticeships which are usually run by a group called the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW),  There are non-union apprenticeships, that are usually run by two groups: one called the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and the other called Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC); and there are local apprenticeships that you can find through a database kept by the federal government.

As an apprentice, you’ll work under a licensed electrician. Rules and requirements vary by state, but most apprenticeships take about 4 years and require 2,000 hours of on-the-job training per year. The average apprenticeship costs anywhere from $250 – $1,420 a year,  but most apprenticeships are paid, and that more than offsets the cost. Wages vary by state and employer, but on average apprentices earn $10 to $20 per hour. After your apprenticeship, you’ll be a journeyman and can expect to earn about $32 – $43 per hour.

Use Your GI Bill to Cover Expenses

As an apprentice, not only will be you be earning while you study, but your classroom training will be paid for by the contractor you work for, so your only expenses will be textbooks and supplies.

The great news is that you use the GI Bill to cover those expenses as well as housing.  GI Bill payments are issued each month after your employer or union reports your hours. The VA offers a list of employers that offer apprenticeships (at the top of the page in Search Filters, select Program Type “On-The-Job-Training/Apprenticeship”, then select your state on map.) You can also get more more information from the Troops to Trades organization.

There’s nothing like knowing you’re highly skilled in a field that’s in demand, having lots of options, and pursuing a line of work where no two days are the same! In other words, there’s nothing like being an electrician.


Did you know, you can find education programs for Trades and Technicians in the CollegeRecon School Finder tool?  Go here.





Education Careers for Veterans and Military Spouses

Careers in Education for Veterans and Military Spouses

Every May, teachers are celebrated for their hard work and contributions to enriching the lives of students through education. Teacher Appreciation Week originated around 1950 when a teacher advocated for her profession and Eleanor Roosevelt convinced Congress to formally recognize teachers.

For the nearly 1 million military-connected students, teachers are essential. They have been tackling big challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. As schools across the globe closed, teachers rapidly translated what they do for students at school into virtual classrooms. Their continued support for their students during these times deserves respect and recognition.

An additional challenge that adds to the strain that teachers are facing right now is the shortage of teachers – especially in certain underserved areas of the country. To combat this shortage and recruit talented teachers, alternative routes to teacher certification have been created.

A growing number of teachers earn teaching licenses and certification through these alternative programs. These programs may be more feasible than traditional routes for veterans and military spouses.

Routes to Teaching for Veterans and Military Spouses

Troops to Teachers

Service members within 3 years of separation from the military are eligible for the Troops to Teachers program. This program supports transitioning service members in meeting education and licensing requirements to become teachers, assist with job placement, and financial aid opportunities.

JROTC Instructors

The Army JROTC program is an accredited high school elective that teaches leadership, citizenship, life success, cultural awareness, and wellness skills and lessons are aligned with ELA Common Core Standards. This program is taught by qualified retirees. JROTC Instructors are certified by the military and employed by school districts through cost sharing with the military.

Opportunities with DODEA

After earning a teaching degree, the Department of Defense Education Activity offers career opportunities to veterans and military spouses. DoDEA does have specific requirements for teaching.

Alternative Routes to Teaching

According to Teacher Certification Degrees, there are several alternative routes to teaching. Although requirements vary from state to state, they often share similarities among alternative routes to teaching:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree in the subject you’d like to teach
  • Complete a teacher preparation program approved by the licensing or certification board in the state where you wish to be licensed
  • Obtain a temporary license or certificate to begin teaching while you complete an alternative program
  • Pass the same exam required of all teachers in your state – generally a Praxis test
  • Specialized types of teaching certificates – like special education or early childhood education – are not commonly issued via alternative routes

Teacher Certification Degrees provides the following insight on alternative routes to teaching:

Formal Alternative Teacher Preparation – Similar to traditional teacher preparation, but teacher preparation is completed after already earning a bachelor’s degree. This typically involves completing a master’s degree and can take 1-2 years to complete. A growing number of these programs are available online.

Transition to Teaching – Also similar to traditional teacher preparation, but coursework is offered through the program rather than a university and student teaching requirements are often offered earlier in the program. Examples include:

  • American Board for the Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE)
  • Teach for America
  • TNTP Teaching Fellows

Career and Technical Education Certification – Teachers who license or certify via this route are referred to as vocational, occupational, technical, or career teachers. Formal work experience is often substituted for a bachelor’s degree.

In-District Training – The states of Deleware, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and South Carolina have alternative pathways to teaching that involve training through mentorship within a school district.

Teaching Equivalency and Portfolio Evaluations– These less common pathways involve approximately 3 years of teaching experience in areas that do not require completing professional teacher preparation (private or post-secondary). Programs like these are available in Arkansas, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin.

Where to Start

Whichever pathway you choose to become a teacher, it will be necessary to understand the requirements outlined by the Board of Education in your state and the specific requirements for the school system where you intend to teach.


Explore a Career Where You Can Be a HERO

Post-Military Career Opportunity: Be a HERO

Aptly named, The Human Exploitation Rescue Operative (HERO) Child-Rescue Corps is a program designed to give veterans a second career as a hero.

HERO specifically aims to, “recruit and train wounded, ill, or injured active-duty service members, transitioning active-duty service members, and military veterans for employment to support law enforcement” in the fight against child-exploitation.

HERO Is a Joint Venture Between Several Government Agencies

HERO is a joint venture created by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE)  Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), and the non-profit National Association to Protect Children (PROTECT).

Combination of High Tech and Law Enforcement Skills

HERO is a career that combines high-tech computer forensics and law enforcement skills to work in conjunction with federal agents in the fight against online child exploitation.

Undoubtedly, boot camp was physically more difficult. However, the mental and emotional aspects of this job require a distinctive kind of strength.

This career is not for the faint of heart; veterans are in a unique position with their prior work experience to excel in combating the evil that preys upon and exploits innocent victims.

Training For a Second Career as a Hero

HERO has an initial three-month training in computer forensics and law enforcement support. This includes 3 weeks of training in child exploitation with The National Association to Protect Children and 9 weeks of intensive computer forensics training. Upon completion of the initial three-month training, HEROs will transition to ICE field offices across the nation to begin hands-on training experience.

Each HERO will be placed in a field office for 9 months in a paid law enforcement internship. During the internship HEROs earn practical experience serving as computer forensic analysts (CFAs) and assisting special agents with criminal cases and prosecutions.

While the focus of the internship is primarily on becoming a highly skilled CFA, there is also great emphasis on supporting case investigators where HERO’s knowledge and skills are crucial.

HERO duties include:

  • Forensic analysis
  • Assisting to identify high-value targets
  • Locating child victims
  • Crime scene investigations
  • Preparing for prosecutions

There is no need to have a strong background in computers and technology to enter the HERO training program. However, applicants should have an interest in and aptitude for this field of study. While training as a CFA, HEROs will learn computer forensic techniques such as: searching for evidence using hard drives and software,  searching for embedded images and information, accessing and analyzing random access memory on a live system to search for evidence, and conducting analysis of internet artifacts. HERO participants will be given the knowledge and training needed to obtain a CompTIA A+ certification, which is a necessary component to demonstrate computer competency and advance in the HEROs training program.

Upon successful completion of the program (3 months of initial training, CompTIA A+ certification, and 9 months of paid internship) participants will have the knowledge, skills, and experience to successfully pursue careers with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies as well as jobs in the public and private sectors. While there is no guarantee of employment after completing the program, HERO Corps undoubtedly serves as a gateway to a wide variety of careers including law enforcement, child protection, victim advocacy, and computer forensics. The entire first graduating HERO class of 2013 was offered employment by HSI. Since that first class, additional classes have been held each year with the most recent 10th class graduating in September 2019.

Unfortunately, innocent children are victimized every day. The arrest of child predators and the rescue of their victims will not negate the damage that has been done but is an impressive attempt to help balance the scales. Since 2003, ICE reports that HSI has initiated more than 40,000 cases globally, recued more than 5,000 child victims, and arrested more than 15,000 child predators. On average, HSI arrests seven child predators and processes 17 terabytes of data every day. Not all superheroes wear capes!

You can find more info here.


Veteran Careers with the U.S. Marshals Service

U.S. Marshals Careers for Veterans

The U.S. Marshals Service has served the nation since 1789, making the USMS the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the U.S. Much of their work goes unseen by the general public.  The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) is the enforcement arm of the federal court system. Deputies participate in nearly every federal law enforcement activity. U.S. Marshals have jurisdiction in 94 federal judicial districts.

Special Hiring Rules for Veterans

Many of the educational and experience requirements may be waived for military veteran candidates. In addition, as a veteran, you are given priority for many federal jobs, especially in the case of federal law enforcement given that your training, experience and learned skills translate well into the law enforcement field.

If you are eligible, you can also apply for Veterans’ Preference Points. To learn more about Veterans’ Preference, click here.

U.S. Marshal Service Career Paths

Like many of the federal law enforcement agencies you have several career paths to choose from, from direct law enforcement roles to behind scenes careers in logistics and administration. The U.S. Marshal Service offers three main paths: Deputy Marshals, Detention and Aviation Enforcement, and Administration. For the sake of this article we will focus on the U.S. Marshal career opportunities.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Duties

Deputy Marshals serve in several specialized roles including Judicial Security, Prisoner Services, Special Missions and Programs. Asset Forfeiture, and Witness Security (WitSec).

Judicial Security – Protecting federal judicial officials (judges, attorneys and jurors) is a foundational mission for the U.S. Marshals.

Transporting Prisoners/JPATS – Marshals and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement operate the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System (JPATS).

Fugitive Operations – Marshals are the government’s primary team for pursuing fugitive. In 2014, the U.S. Marshals arrested more than 33,500 federal fugitive felons, clearing 36,700 felony warrants – more than all other law enforcement agencies combined.

Foreign Fugitives – The U.S. Marshals is the premier agency for capturing foreign fugitives believed to be in the United States, and it is the agency responsible for locating and extraditing American fugitives, who flee to foreign countries. In 2014, the U.S. Marshals Service coordinated 883 extraditions/deportations.

The USMS also works with the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service and hold key positions at Interpol.

Prisoner Operations – The USMS detains prisoners in federal, state, local and private jails throughout the nation.

Special Operations Group  – The USMS  Special Operations Group is a specially trained, tactical unit made up of Deputy Marshals, who can respond immediately to incidents anywhere in the United States or its common wealths and territories.

Asset Forfeiture – The U.S. Marshals Service is responsible for managing and disposing of seized properties acquired by criminals through illegal activities. Marshals currently manages and disposes of nearly $2.2 billion in property.

Witness Security (WitSec) – The U.S. Marshals ensure the safety of witnesses, who are at risk for testifying for the government in cases involving organized crime and other significant criminal activities. The Marshals have protected, relocated and given new identities to more than 8,500 witnesses and more than 9,900 of their family members, since 1971.

Visit the U.S. Marshals Service website for specific eligibility and  fitness requirements.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Hiring Programs

Hiring Opportunities – If you would like to pursue a career with the USMS, please visit USAJOBS.

Applications for Deputy U.S. Marshal Positions are ONLY accepted through the USAJOBS site during posted announcement open periods.

If you have career or employment questions, please call (703) 740-4001 or send an email to:

All applications must be submitted through USAJOBS





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