Higher ed and tech training — tracks designed to lead you down road to success

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Higher ed and tech training — tracks designed to lead you down road to success

by: Stars and Stripes | .
Special Publications | .
published: July 05, 2013

Perhaps you have decided you want to continue in the technical career field you have been trained for in the military. Or, maybe you’re looking to go in a new direction within a technical field. Either way, you want to enter the workforce sooner rather than later with job ready-skills. Therefore, now is the time to position yourself for success and attend the Career Technical Training Track. This 2-day course is designed to guide you through the myriad of choices and decisions involved in selecting a career, identifying required credentials and investigate options to pursue those qualifications.

Among the Career Readiness Standards you will achieve, through either Track’s modules, is a completed individual standardized assessment of your aptitude, interests, strengths, skills and leanings for selecting education or technical training toward a future career. Other CRS include a completed comparison of your academic or training institution choices, and a completed college, university or technical training application, or an acceptance letter. One-on-one counseling with a college, university or technical training institution advisor or counselor is valuable in identifying the right course of study, submitting an application for admission, and ultimately, getting accepted. Making contact with the Veteran’s Service Office or Veteran’s Liaison at the school in which you are looking to attend is valuable in helping you assimilate into the campus environment.
The Career Technical Training Track, as does the Accessing Higher Education Track, expands on the information obtained in the MOC Crosswalk session and DOL Workshop. Presented in seven modules, it addresses such topics as:

  • Conducting an individual skills assessment and gap analysis.
  • Identifying types of credentials and the importance of licensing and certification.
  • How to select a reputable technical training program or postsecondary institution.
  • The application process and requirements to attend a school or pursue an apprenticeship.
  • Review VA education benefit programs to include Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VR&E).
  • How to use certification finder “Web tools” and other Internet resources.

What is a technical field?
VA utilizes the National Career Clusters Framework™ to define what it considers technical careers. The Framework provides a vital structure for organizing technical fields. In total, there are 16 Career Clusters, representing more than 79 Career Pathways to help students navigate their way to greater success in their career. This topic will be expanded during the Career Technical Training Track module.

What are credentials?
Credentials are critical tools of any trade. They set professional and technical standards and supply documented proof of your ability to perform in a career field. They can include certificates, registered apprenticeships, licenses and even degrees. Benefits to pursuing a technical career and training include:

  • Accelerated employment.
  • Provides a bridge to advanced training.
  • Uses skills learned (in the military).

It’s important to consider the differences between technical training and traditional higher education. Figure A. provides a sample comparison.

Research your options
You may be wondering, what technical field is right for me? There are a lot of assessment tools to help you hone in on your career of choice when trying to identify some of those possibilities for work and career. The O*NET Interest Profiler can help you find out what your interests are and how they relate to the world of work, as well as decide what kinds of careers you may want to explore. This tool and many others will be utilized during the Career Technical Training Track.

In addition to identifying careers with high opportunities for employment, the O*NET website can be used for a general search of different jobs. Figure B. provides a listing of the top 10 Military Occupational Codes (MOCs) and a crosswalk to their related O*NET occupations.

Finally, My Next Move for Vets (http://www.mynextmove.org/vets) is an interactive tool for job seekers and students, which allows you to learn more about your career. Using this website, you can search careers by key words, browse careers by industry, and even find careers similar to your military job. Search results also include information as to whether an occupation has high opportunity for employment, is a Green job, or is a career with a registered apprenticeship program.

Tips to consider

  • Do your research to be an informed consumer. It’s important to check the accreditation status of any program you are considering to be sure it is accredited, as well as approved by the VA if you are going to use your GI Bill benefits.
  • Be especially careful of websites that are sponsored by for-profit technical schools and companies. Sites sponsored by the federal government, such as the Department of Labor or the Department of Veteran Affairs, have extensively vetted the data and provide more reliable information about job demand, realistic salary expectations and accurate education and training requirements.
  • Identifying a credentialing path can be a very personal process. Create your personal list of at least five of the most important criteria for selecting a program. Rank what is most important to you.
  • Know the details of any loan. Remember, a loan is a legal contract and you will be required to sign documents with a lot of fine print. You should have a fundamental understanding of the agreement before you sign it.
  • There are many predatory practices you should be aware of when financing your education. Red flags should go up, for example, when any scholarship or grant website requires you to pay before they let you have access to their database.
  • All the preparation you have done to this point — and still need to do — can impact your goals if you do not organize it into a formal plan. Many people struggle to achieve their goals, because they primarily keep everything they need to do “in their heads.” Narrowing down your career of choice helps to prevent drifting; but developing a formal, written plan truly brings your expectations about achieving it to the next step.
  • If after all of your exploration, you’re still having difficulty selecting a career of choice, consider Vocational and Educational Counseling through VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program.

Civilian work life can be exciting and filled with opportunities to learn and grow in your career. However, it comes with tremendous personal responsibility for managing all aspects of your career. The outcome of the Accessing Higher Education and Career Technical Training Tracks is a customized plan for success to make your transition smoother. This course will lead you where you want to go!

— Sources: Department of Defense Transition GPS Accessing Higher Education For Transitioning Service Members Track; Department of Veterans Affairs Transition GPS Career Technical Training Track Curriculum

Figure A.

Career and Technical Training   
Generally shorter   
Typically costs less   
Smaller campus size   
Paid (e.g., apprenticeships)   
Credentialing may be included   

Traditional Higher Education
Generally takes longer
Can cost more
Large campus size
May require additional credentialing (your responsibility) after graduating

Figure B.

Tags: Education
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