Apprenticeship Programs for Veterans: Paid Career Training for Vets in 2024
Veterans may face unique challenges when transitioning from military service to civilian life. An Oregon State University study found that two-thirds of the military respondents admit to having a “difficult transition”, largely owed to unemployment. Meanwhile, 56 percent felt they were not ready for a career pivot. This is where apprenticeship programs for veterans come in.
Apprenticeships for veterans can help you prepare for a smooth transition upon leaving the service. Apprenticeships generally provide a structured pathway for veterans to acquire new skills and seamlessly integrate into the workforce. Let’s look at the types of veteran apprenticeship programs available and some tips on how veterans can prepare for them.
What Are Apprenticeship Programs?
Apprenticeships are career training programs designed to offer hands-on experience and practical skills development in a specific area of work. One thing that sets apprenticeships apart is their earn-as-you-learn model. This allows apprentices to earn a wage while receiving training. Apprenticeships are available across industries including technology and healthcare.
Depending on the role or industry, an apprenticeship can last anywhere from one to six years. Throughout this time, apprentices will generally receive mentorship and be exposed to real-world projects. A majority of apprentices go on to secure full-time positions at the company after their apprenticeship.
Top 3 Benefits of Apprenticeship Programs for Veterans
The main benefit of an apprenticeship program for veterans is to bridge the gap between their military experience and a new career post-service. With an apprenticeship, veterans can potentially earn the skills to secure high-paying jobs, even without a degree. Here’s a closer look at how a veteran apprenticeship program works:
Skill development and transferability
Some veterans may not have had any experience with a job search, especially if they spent the majority of their life in the army. In most cases, they need to learn new skills to have a smoother transition. These include technical skills that can be an integral part of civilian job requirements. Through an apprenticeship program, veterans can also obtain the right guidance to identify transferable skills and continue to develop them in alignment with their new desired role.
Apprenticeships for veterans are a great way to learn on the job while also making some money. An apprenticeship also offers insight into the company’s culture, values, and vision. This is a great way to determine compatibility between both parties. Apprentices have the opportunity to collaborate and network within the company, increasing their chances of securing long-term employment.
Financial support is a huge reason why apprenticeships are becoming more popular. As opposed to internships, apprentices receive financial incentives and stipends while they are in training. This reduces some financial stress that most job seekers face. Additionally, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has also allocated GI Bill benefits to be used toward books, supplies, and housing for veteran apprentices.
Overview of VA Apprenticeship Programs for Veterans
The VA apprenticeship program is an initiative that allows veterans to upskill and pursue on-the-job training in line with their interests and career goals. Those eligible for education benefits can also use their GI Bill to cover certain expenses during their apprenticeship period. Below are some of the most common VA-approved apprenticeship programs.
Apprenticeship Opportunities via the US Department of Labor
There are thousands of apprenticeship programs for veterans in 2024, with many of them accessible through the US Department of Labor. You can use the Job Finder Tool to look for an apprenticeship program that matches your interests and skills. The tool can also help you determine your eligibility for the relevant education benefits offered by the VA.
Meanwhile, active duty members with at least 12 months of service remaining can opt for the United Services Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP) initiative. Using the finder tool on USMAP, you can find VA apprenticeship opportunities in various fields including technology, healthcare, and education. Upon completion, you will receive a certificate of completion from the US Department of Labor.
Trade Apprenticeship Opportunities
Veterans can also explore apprenticeships in specific trade professions. These apprenticeships focus on traditional crafts and skilled trades, preparing veterans for careers in industries such as construction, manufacturing, and maintenance. Some programs may offer classroom instruction but a majority will have a practical approach to learning.
No prior experience is required for this type of apprenticeship as you will be taught everything on the job. In the course of one to five years, you will deepen your knowledge and develop an advanced understanding of materials, tools, and best practices in the trade of your choice. At the end of your apprenticeship, you will receive a certificate that validates your formal training.
Tech Apprenticeship Opportunities
There is a wide variety of apprenticeship opportunities that can help veterans upskill in the tech sector. It is a great path if you are looking to unlock entry-level careers that are also high-paying. You can choose to explore fields such as software engineering, data science, cybersecurity engineering, and UX design.
A tech apprenticeship generally combines practical skills with theoretical knowledge. Basic programming skills are recommended so that you can hit the ground running in your apprenticeship. Most tech companies offer a full-time apprenticeship program that lasts anywhere between one to four years. On top of financial compensation, you will receive invaluable mentorship from industry experts and peers.
Top 5 Apprenticeships for Veterans Looking to Break Into Tech
The tech industry offers many exciting career opportunities. With so many tech branches to pick from, choosing the best apprenticeship program as a veteran can be challenging. To help you make this decision, let’s look at five well-regarded paid apprenticeships for veterans in the tech industry as well as key information about each training program.
Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA)
Eligibility: Military retirees, veterans, and transitioning service members
Learning path(s): Cloud computing and server administration
Microsoft offers three programs under its MSSA initiative, namely Cybersecurity Operations (CSO), Server and Cloud Administration (SCA), and Cloud Application Development (CAD). Each program covers 17 weeks of hands-on learning, allowing apprentices the chance to learn cloud skills from one of the world’s biggest tech companies. At the end of the program, you stand a chance to land a job at Microsoft or its hiring partners.
VetsinTech Apprenticeship Program
Eligibility: Active duty, military retirees, veterans, and transitioning service members
Learning path(s): Web development, cyber security, data science, machine learning
VetsinTech is a unique organization that offers various programs, including apprenticeships, to veterans. Its main mission is to support veterans’ transition into civilian life by connecting them with tech employers. Some of the career paths that you can explore with VetsinTech include cyber security, machine learning, and sales. It also has an extensive network of partner organizations which include Accenture, IBM, Boeing, AT&T, and Amazon.
IBM Apprenticeship Program
Eligibility: Everyone including military veterans
Learning path(s): Cybersecurity, data science, software engineering
This is one of the most popular paid apprenticeship programs for veterans in 2024. IBM offers various earn-and-learn opportunities to help people break into tech. Some of these programs include apprenticeships which can help veterans build skills in cyber security, data analytics, and artificial intelligence. Apprentices at IBM receive crucial training, networking opportunities, and job placement support within the industry. If your goal is to get a job at IBM, this may be the best path for you.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) Apprenticeship
Eligibility: Everyone including military veterans
Learning path(s): Cloud computing, software development, cloud architecture
AWS offers full-time apprenticeship programs that can open up the paths to long-lasting careers in software development, cloud computing, and technical sales. Its apprenticeship programs last between 10 to 18 weeks, depending on your specialization. At the end of the program, apprentices receive AWS certifications and the opportunity to gain employment with AWS or its partner companies. Note that this program is open to everyone, including military veterans.
Google Apprenticeship Program
Eligibility: Everyone including military veterans
Learning path(s): Digital marketing, software engineering, sales, data analytics
Google’s apprenticeship program is designed to provide people with non-traditional backgrounds, including veterans, an opportunity to gain practical experience in the tech industry. The program is registered with the US Department of Labor, offering a wide array of career track options. The length of each career track varies, ranging from one to four years. Most tracks are divided into two portions: theoretical instruction and on-the-job training.
Using the GI Bill Benefits for a Veteran Apprenticeship
Those eligible for the GI Bill can use their benefits for a veteran apprenticeship program. Below is a step-by-step guide on using your benefits as a veteran apprentice.
- Check your eligibility. Depending on your length or date of service, you may be entitled to specific GI Bill programs. Verify that you are eligible for education benefits before applying for an apprenticeship.
- Choose an approved program. You can only use the benefits for VA-approved programs that are registered with the Department of Labor. Use the tool finder online to check.
- Apply for an apprenticeship. Submit your apprenticeship application and make sure that the admissions are aware of your intention to use your GI Bill benefits.
- Complete the GI Bill application. Once accepted into an apprenticeship, apply for education benefits using the VA application system. Provide supporting documentation if needed.
- Fulfill training requirements. If approved, you will receive a monthly stipend to cover books, expenses, and housing during your apprenticeship. You must fulfill the training requirements to continue to receive education benefits.
How to Prepare for an Apprenticeship Program for Veterans
Preparing for an apprenticeship doesn’t need to be difficult. Here are three resources you can use to prepare for a veteran apprenticeship and maximize your learning experience
Coding bootcamps are a great way to learn job-focused skills in a short time. Most coding bootcamps are tech-focused, exposing students to programming skills and in-demand tools in just months. They also have lower barriers to entry, making them accessible to career changers and job seekers from all backgrounds. Some of the best coding bootcamp for veterans allow students to use their GI Bill to cover the cost of tuition.
Similar to an apprenticeship, an internship is a form of experiential learning that is more suitable for fresh graduates or high school leavers. It is generally shorter than an apprenticeship, taking anywhere between weeks or months. You can think of internships as an opportunity to take a quick glimpse into a professional career. Interns may also be stationed at different departments within the same company so they get a chance to see the overall working environment.
Trade schools can sometimes be referred to as vocational schools. They offer hands-on training in specific trades or occupations. Most trade school programs prioritize practical skills, allowing students to refine their crafts or skills through practice. If you are interested in a veteran apprenticeship program, attending a trade school can be your first step before moving on to a more in-depth learning experience.
Is a Veteran Apprenticeship Program Worth It in 2024?
A veteran apprenticeship program is worth pursuing as it can help develop job-specific skills, boost confidence, and expand your professional network. An apprenticeship can be an excellent stepping stone for veterans who wish for a smooth and successful career pivot. On top of mentorship and networking opportunities, you can also earn money while you learn on the job.
Depending on your interests, career goals, and motivation, you should be able to find an apprenticeship program for veterans that suits you the best. Utilize the finder tool on the VA’s and US Department of Labor’s websites to find the most up-to-date information on apprenticeships for veterans.
Apprenticeship Programs for Veterans FAQ
Some of the highest-paying apprenticeship programs for veterans are in the tech industry. Tech fields such as software engineering, data analysis, and UX design have lower barriers to entry, making them more accessible to career changers like veterans. The total compensation packages for apprenticeships may differ based on location and experience.
You can find a variety of VA-approved apprenticeships and on-the-job training programs across different career fields such as technology, tourism and hospitality, and engineering. For the most up-to-date information on apprenticeships for veterans, it is recommended that you check with the VA. You can also use the VA’s GI Bill Comparison Tool to confirm their eligibility.
Apprenticeships are usually thought of as something for younger people but there is no strict age limit that determines eligibility for apprenticeship programs. A lot of apprenticeship programs are open to people of various backgrounds, provided they are at least 18 years of age and are authorized to work in the country.
Employers can benefit greatly from hiring veterans considering how well they were trained in the service. The army helps instill determination and discipline among military personnel, allowing them to develop unique skills that they can bring to the workplace. Veterans also generally work well under pressure and can bring a team-oriented mindset, making them excellent hires.