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Use Your Education Benefits

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” -- Henry Ford

Stay young - become a lifelong learner!

There are so many reasons to keep learning. And many of you have the advantage of great educational benefits - especially the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The right education can open doors of opportunity for your civilian career. Advanced education or additional training can make you more competitive in the job market, and can also pay off down the road in earnings.

Consider these questions:

  • Do you need to update your skills or obtain new, more marketable ones?
  • Are there “soft skills” that would be beneficial to have, in addition to the “hard skills” that are necessary to do a certain job?
  • Is a license required to work in your desired field?
  • Would a college degree provide more opportunities for you in coming years?
  • Would Six Sigma certification improve your chances of working in healthcare, financial services, or information technology?
  • Would you be more marketable if you added a Project Management Professional credential to your years of project management experience?
  • Do you want to improve your communication skills or become more comfortable at public speaking?

You don’t have to attain a degree or the highest level of education in order to get a return on your investment. The completion of training programs, certifications, apprenticeships, and other on-the-job training can also positively influence earnings and employment.

Don’t hesitate to think outside the box. Look at all possibilities – public universities, private colleges, training and certification programs. A workshop or a seminar can be very effective without being time-consuming. Check out associations in your field that have meetings, conferences, and other events. Join organizations like Toastmasters and subscribe to industry magazines and newspapers.

Choose Wisely

Be sure to pursue training that aligns well with your industry and will give you a leg up when employers are comparing you to other candidates.

It’s important to identify what certifications that civilians in your industry hold, so you know what you need to compete for those civilian positions. To assist you in identifying civilian credentialing requirements for your occupation, visit Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL) for the Army and Navy, as mentioned on the Assess Your Skills & Interests page. Also check out the credentialing information on DoL’s CareerOneStop website.

Do Your Research

Depending on your circumstances, evaluate whether a local or online program, as well as a part-time or full-time basis is best suited to your needs. There are many online degree programs that allow you to pursue your education remotely. Also, many schools offer credit for your military experience.

Do your research on schools and training programs. Choose the right school for your particular discipline. Use the National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator to search schools by location, programs, and more.

In addition to traditional institutions of higher education - colleges and universities that grant undergraduate and graduate degrees - the Post-9/11 GI Bill provides assistance for many other types of education/training:

  • Correspondence training
  • Cooperative training
  • Entrepreneurship training
  • Flight training
  • Independent and distance learning
  • Institutions of higher learning undergraduate and graduate degrees
  • Licensing and certification reimbursement
  • On-the-job training
  • Tuition Assistance top-up
  • Tutorial assistance
  • Vocational/Technical training

You can search for approved education and training programs, eligibility criteria, and license and certifications programs on the GI Bill website.

The Time is Now!

There is currently a wide-spread effort by schools to accommodate active-duty service members and veterans. More schools are accepting American Council on Education (ACE) credits, which convert military training into academic hours. Almost 75% of schools offer online degree programs, which give you more flexibility. Thanks to the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, all VA-approved programs in public colleges and universities will soon offer in-state tuition to veterans.

If you are considering a private institution, where tuition is higher than that of an in-state program, check to see if your school participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which allows for schools to contribute additional funds for your education program (with a matching amount from VA directly to the school) without an additional charge to your GI Bill entitlement.

Put your future on track for success and boost your job and earning opportunities by using your military education benefits today! And never stop learning.

Additional Resources:

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