Benefits of Career and Technical Education While Serving

The CTE program helps Service members transition into the civilian labor market.

Did you know that there are in excess of 200 different jobs or potential career fields offered in the U.S. Air Force? There are more than 80 in the Health and Medicine specialty and more than 130 different jobs in the Computers & Computer Science specialty. The Army offers similar numbers with more than 150 career paths, as do the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

If a service member fulfills just one enlistment of 4-6 years, he or she will have generally attended months of training in a respective career field, leadership skills and/or management skills. Most members will have a good working knowledge of general duties that are expected when transitioning to the civilian job market. Of course, some service members may also realize the career they have been trained in just isn’t what they want to do as a civilian and may be interested in another career field before separating or retiring.

What if the Defense Department aligned a member’s valuable career and professional training and a member’s military experience with a Defense education program that helped ensure members were was more successful when transitioning into the civilian labor market and finding employment after military service.

Well, they have! It’s called the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program offered by Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges.

What is CTE?

The Department of Defense (DoD) contracted with Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) to launch the new Career and Technical Education (CTE) program last year, aligning with the Defense Department’s Voluntary Education (VolEd) strategic plan. The CTE program serves as a pathway to help service members transition from a military career into the civilian labor market. It operates with a career focus in specific areas that reflect the needs of the military, offer bright employment outlooks for members after military service, and meet certain DoD-established criteria to ensure quality education opportunities for Service members.

Education benefits continue to be one of the top ranked reasons that service members enlist in the military. They know that post-secondary education greatly increases their earning potential when transitioning to civilian life. If members are going to spend 10-20 years, even 4-6 years, in a specific military career field, their training and military experience should count for something. The CTE program identifies credit-bearing certificate programs that leverage that military training and can be incorporated into an associate or bachelor’s degree. Plus, the program’s certificate requirements must meet certain criteria that ensure a quality educational experience for the service member. For specifics on the membership criteria, go to: http://soc.aascu.org/career-and-technical-education/membership

CTE Resource List

SOC, DoD and the Military Services have partnered to develop the CTE Resource list that highlights educational credentials which can be completed during military service. Completion of a certificate program in one of the selected career clusters can help prepare service members for a civilian career with high demand and positive growth potential.

The current career clusters include:

  • Business Management & Administration
  • Health Sciences
  • Information Technology
  • Law, Public Safety, Corrections, & Security
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics
  • Transportation, Distribution, & Logistics

The Resource list is located at: http://www.soc.aascu.org/career-and-technical-education/soc-cte-member-institutions

How does CTE benefit the Service member?

There are several benefits to the CTE program...

  • Certificates offer a short-term pathway (15-30 credit hours) to gain a credential for civilian employment, while enhancing skill sets and knowledge in support of a military occupational specialty.
  • Participating institutions agree to recognize and award credit for military training and occupational experiences, as appropriate to the certificate being awarded.
  • Course requirements for certificate programs must fully integrate into other college-offered associate degree programs.
  • Certificates are stackable, serving as a building block for an associate or bachelor's degree.
  • Cost of tuition must not exceed military tuition assistance (TA).
  • SOC's CTE certificates link to career pathways with bright employment outlooks.
  • Institutions and certificate programs appearing on the CTE Resource list have been carefully selected, based on program requirements determined by the DoD Voluntary Education Chief.

Who is eligible?

Service members in Active and Reserve Components, including the National Guard, are eligible to use the CTE Resource list as a decision tool in preparation for education and future transitioning from the military. Before enrolling, a military education counselor must provide approval and establish a degree plan with the member.

SOC’s CTE certificates are also approved by the State Approving Agency (SAA) for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) education benefits. Members can use their GI Bill education benefits to fund a certificate program while enlisted in the military and opt to continue the program as a civilian after transitioning from military service.

SOC CTE Program Background

The initial phase of the CTE program launched with 119 certificate programs from 33 institutions. This fall, the CTE program will announce another open application period as SOC seeks to increase the number of colleges and universities included on the CTE Resource list.

DoD continues to update and add high-demand occupational career fields to the program. The next round of program submissions will include the following career clusters:

  • Homeland Security
  • Health Services Management
  • Applied Science and Technology
  • Psychology

Certificates selected for inclusion on the CTE Resource list represent the needs of the Military Services and meet program requirements. For more information, visit the SOC website at: http://soc.aascu.org/

For further CTE questions, contact the SOC Career and Technical Education Program Coordinator at 800-368-5622 or fergusons@aascu.org.

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