The transition from military to civilian life is a time of uncertainty and rapid change for millions of our US service members. However, it doesn’t have to be so daunting and starting a career in the ever-growing technology industry can offer so much to veterans. With the skills and values gained from their service, a veteran is well equipped to succeed in civilian technology jobs.
When considering where to invest their time, many veterans naturally gravitate toward technology jobs. Not only is it a lucrative field driven by engineers, developers, data analysts, and cyber security operatives, but its demand grows daily.
Entering the Tech Industry
So how can military veterans initiate the move into tech? We asked some of our on-staff technology experts about their journey from the military into the tech space.
According to Peter Diaz, a Quality Assurance Triage technician at Bridgehead IT, most service-connected disabled veterans qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation through the VA. However, they are extremely challenging to work with. This leaves most veterans at a loss on how to proceed, as this obstacle can be overwhelming at times. The key to overcoming it though is to start building connections and a field of expertise.
A great initial step to finding jobs in the technology industry is to network with professionals already in the industry. Proactively connecting with those key individuals can be the hardest part of entering the technology field. If someone knows you and is confident in your skills, that goes a long way towards landing an opportunity.
While professional relationships are a great advantage when entering the technology field, understanding of the various sectors within the industry is crucial. It’s more than just cyber security and troubleshooting devices. Dozens of specialties and even subspecialties are available, allowing you to find a field you are comfortable in. Everything from networking, data analytics, software development, and cabling infrastructure, the scope of work spans across a vast number of certifications.
Once a person has identified a field of expertise in which they are ready to apply themselves, it is time to become familiar with specific software and processes related to that specialty. From there seek out certifications and education that align with your field of choice. For instance, those looking to enter cyber security will probably find the following 3 certifications most helpful:
- CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst+ (CySA+)
- Microsoft Fundamentals (SC-900)
- Certified Ethical Hacker (EC-Council)
Q&A With Peter Diaz
What aspects of your military service have helped you build a career in tech, and what are some new skills you’ve developed since you left the service?
- “While in service I was able to learn a bit about PACS administration while my role as a 68P Radiology Specialist. This led to me wanting to reclass as a 25B information technology specialist.”
Tell us more about how you served your country, and your current role at Bridgehead IT.
- “I have always been into computers; I would say I was a home-brewed technologist. When we moved here to Texas from Colorado, I was pursuing my new career as a Residential/Commercial Appraiser. My back up plan was the VET TECH program at ACI. My original plan fell through, and I ended up in school at ACI. While in school I started applying for careers and ended up landing here at Bridgehead IT and I could not have been happier with my choice. My current role keeps me on my toes and allows me to use my skills to the utmost of my abilities.”
What advice would you give to fellow veterans who are looking to build a career in the tech sector?
- “Use the resources that are available to you, reach out to your local Veteran Service Officer who can assist you with disability claims as well as programs that you may be eligible for. Let them (veterans) know these aren’t handouts nor are the benefits taken away from other service members. Show them how these programs have already been allocated funds and they are use it or lose it.”
Interview with Dave Gast
Dave Gast, an educator at ACI and advocate for Veterans trying to transition into the technology field, shares his knowledge on how to get started.
Gast says, some of the biggest challenges can be translating experience into language that HR teams can understand. Military personnel are solving problems day-to-day without realizing they’re gaining that technology knowledge.
The various hurdles to military personnel include:
- Uncovering the items in job postings that reference the qualifications they need to gain
- Becoming familiar with the tools that employers are seeking
- Being proactive in building up their skill set and communicating that in interviews
- Doing research in the field and/or job they are applying for
- Beyond passing the test, demonstrate willingness to stay on trend
- Touching on specifics within an industry, like cyber security, and the number of sub-specialties within those segments.
- Do you know what you’re asking for? Are you the kind of person who likes to interface with clients or do you prefer to be behind-the-scenes monitoring data?
It is not the certifications; it is the processes and ability to function within the roles. Go look for ITIL jobs, service managers, and uncover those jobs that are not familiar to larger applicant populations. Looking beyond the Tier 1 experience, particularly for those who’ve coordinated logistics globally.
One of the best ways to learn about career opportunities in the technology industry is to network with professionals who are already working in the field. There are a number of ways to network with professionals, including:
- Attending industry events
- Joining professional organizations
- Connecting with professionals on LinkedIn
- Reaching out to friends, family, and former colleagues who work in technology.
So How Can Veterans Pay for Tech Certifications and Education?
- If you want to gain computer experience to start or advance your career in the high-technology industry, find out if you’re eligible for our Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC) program that matches you with a leading training provider to help you develop high-tech skills. Accelerated payments for high-technology programs are available. To find out if you can get a single higher payment (called a “lump sum” or “accelerated” payment) to help cover the higher per-month costs for these types of programs, click here.
- If you’re a Veteran and you qualify for the GI Bill, you may be able to use part of your entitlement to cover test fees up to $2,000 for a job that requires a license or certification for you to work. You can use our search tool to learn which tests are covered and their costs. The benefits of the GI Bill vary depending on length of service, when a person served, and in what capacity.
The Edith Nourse Rogers Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) Scholarship allows eligible Veterans and dependents using the post-9/11 GI Bill or Fry Scholarship to get added benefits. This scholarship supplies up to 9 months (or $30,000) of benefits for training in high-demand fields. Find out if you’re eligible and how to apply.
Here are two local companies that are good resources/starting places for additional info into how veterans can pay for certs/education.
Applying for Jobs
Once you have the skills and experience you need, you can start applying for jobs in the technology industry. There are a number of websites and resources that can help you find jobs, including:
- Indeed: This website is a general job search engine that includes listings for technology jobs.
- Dice: This website is designed for technology professionals and provides job listings, career advice, and news about the technology industry.
- LinkedIn: This social networking site allows you to connect with professionals in the technology industry and find job listings.
Moving from military to civilian life can be a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity to start a new career. The growing technology industry is a great option for veterans because it offers high-paying jobs, opportunities for advancement, and a chance to use their skills and experience to make a difference in the world. If you are interested in a career in the technology industry with Bridgehead IT, apply today.