If you have had military training and experience in one of these fields, obtaining a professional certification can help move your civilian career forward, open a wider array of options, or improve your chances of nabbing a job.
In a few fields – teaching, medicine and law, for example – the lions’ share of certification programs are the means of entering the profession. In others, certification is not mandatory, but it is a competitive advantage. Overall, though, it’s important to remember that most professional certification programs are for those who have already entered and have experience in a particular industry. It’s not for the recent high school graduate.
There are a number of licensing and certification exams that have been especially approved for reimbursement through the GI Bill. The VA will pay for the cost of the tests, as well as the school coursework and programs that lead up to the tests, as long as these are administered by a VA-approved institution.
As always, a plethora of guidelines apply to reimbursement, so be sure to consult your VA representative and your campus veteran advisor.
Below, we’ve listed eight of the highest demand professional certifications.
1. Professional project management. Pretty much every industry uses project managers, because just about every company has project-based work. PMP certification is the gold standard for project managers, but many other professionals – managers, administrators, supervisors – are now holding up their PMP certification as a way to validate their worth to their employer.
2. Foreign language. Most large companies operate on a global scale, and serve customers for whom English is not their first language. Proving you are proficient in more than one language can make you an extremely valuable asset to an employer. Note that foreign language certification may not be supported by military education benefits – state programs vary, so check with your VA representative or installation benefits coordinator to confirm.
3. Corporate training. Management and human resources professionals can add this potentially lucrative specialty and up their salary average to around $65,000, according to CBSalary.com. Look for Certified Professional Trainer degree programs offered by accredited training organizations.
4. Desktop support. The potential field of IT certifications is vast. An IT support specialist looking to broaden their skillset or gain specialized expertise has a variety of programs from which to choose. If you’re working as a general support position, though, having a Microsoft Professional certification – validating your expertise in installation, maintenance and management of Microsoft Windows operating systems – can be a big feather in your cap.
5. Web design and development. Can you name one business that does not have an online presence? Virtually every business has a web site, and this means they employ a web designer or developer to create and maintain these valuable brand and transactional tools. A certification in web site design or development can open many doors.
6. Certified clinical medical assistant. Administrative professionals and others with generalist skills who want to work in the health-care field, but don’t have time to pursue a degree may benefit from certification programs like this one. A certified clinical medical assistant understands clinical and laboratory procedures, as well as many administrative roles. This is a program that can provide an entrance to working in doctor’s offices, clinics and hospitals.