Technology plays a huge role in shaping today’s career landscape. For veterans transitioning from military service to civilian life, the tech industry is worth looking into as it presents dynamic challenges and opportunities. As the demand for skilled IT professionals continues to soar, veterans in tech stand a chance to kickstart a fulfilling career that also pays well.
To land one of the best tech jobs, the first step is to acquire the right skills. With so many free online courses for veterans available, former military members can easily access virtual lessons and build a solid technical foundation from the comfort of their own homes. Let’s look at five different types of free IT training for veterans, as well as some crucial tips for career success.
The Best Free Online Courses for Veterans Looking to Break Into Tech
Free online courses for veterans are a great place to start, especially for ex-military members with no prior tech experience. These courses are designed to make learning tech topics accessible, engaging, and rewarding. Most of them are also flexible, allowing veterans to learn at their own pace. Below are some free IT training for veterans that are available in 2023.
NPower is a New York-based nonprofit offering free training programs to empower members of the underserved community, including veterans, with job-ready skills. There are four career tracks to choose from: Tech Fundamentals, Cyber Security, Cloud Computing, and IT Support Specialist. Lessons are delivered virtually, ensuring access to quality education no matter where students are located.
NPower has also collaborated with the Department of Defense to offer the SkillBridge program, dedicated especially to veterans looking to master cyber security skills. This tuition-free online course offers veterans in their last 180 days of service a chance to learn while they make their transition out of the military. The 10-week free IT training for veterans also aims to prepare them for sought-after certifications like CompTIA Security+ and Linux+.
Veterans interested in NPower programs can visit the website to submit an application for their desired program. Note that while all programs are available online, NPower only accepts applications from US residents in major cities in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Michigan, Maryland, Missouri, and California.
Federal Virtual Training Environment (FedVTE)
FedVTE is an initiative created and managed by the Department of Homeland Security with the aim of providing cyber security training to everyone in the federal workforce. This IT training is free for veterans and all government employees, and it teaches them how to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of cyber security threats with over 800 hours of content.
FedVTE offers a range of online courses that cover various aspects of cyber security, from basic concepts to advanced techniques. They discuss topics such as network defense, ethical hacking, incident response, risk management, and more. FedVTE is also designed to be flexible, allowing learners to go through high-quality training at their own speed.
Some of the courses are also designed to prepare learners for industry-leading cyber security certifications such as the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). These certifications can be valuable assets on a resume and boost a learner’s credibility and employability. Those interested can visit the website to apply.
United Service Organizations (USO)
USO is a nonprofit that is known to provide services to boost the morale and welfare of military members. To empower more veterans in tech, it offers professional development services through the USO Transition Program. This is a part of USO’s efforts to ensure members of the military and veterans can make a smooth transition into civilian life.
USO works with eligible active duty members, veterans, and their spouses to create personalized action plans to help them excel in areas like employment, education, and finances. It then connects individuals with resources that match their needs through partnerships with learning platforms, companies, industry players, and mentors.
If you are a veteran looking to break into tech, you can access huge online libraries with hundreds of learning materials on partner sites such as Skillsoft, IBM SkillsBuild, and Coursera. Note that the USO Transition Program is only open to service members with at least 12 months of remaining active duty, veterans who have left the service for no more than a year, and military spouses.
Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC)
VET TEC is a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) initiative to encourage more veterans to explore tech roles. It is a pilot program with limited annual funding so applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. It covers the tuition fees and housing allowances for in-person and remote programs in areas like software, programming, data, and IT. This allows veterans to get IT training for free.
The training programs are not offered directly by the VA. Instead, the VA partners with various education providers such as nonprofits, coding bootcamps, and elearning platforms to offer these free online courses for veterans. Below are some examples of VET TEC-approved courses and coding bootcamps for veterans.
|Sabio||Full Stack Software Development, Full Stack Web Development|
|Code Platoon||Computer Programming, Web Developer, Software Engineering|
|Divergence Academy||Cybersecurity Professional Penetration Tester, Data Science, Cloud Engineering, Security Operations Management|
|Fullstack Academy||Cyber Security, Full Stack Development, Grace Hopper Web Development|
|Training Concepts||CompTIA Secure Infrastructure Specialist Program, Information Technology Career Start Program|
|Codeup||Data Science, Full Stack Java Development|
|Skill Distillery||Full Stack Web Development with Java|
|Evolve Security Academy||Evolve Security Certified Professional|
To get VET TEC training, you need to be eligible for VA education benefits under the GI Bill. However, enrolling in a VET TEC-approved program does not count against your GI Bill benefits. In some cases, eligible veterans may even use both benefits at the same time. Visit the VA website for more information about VET TEC-approved programs.
Online Learning Platforms
Online learning platforms have become an essential resource for people seeking to acquire new skills, change careers, or enhance their knowledge. Most platforms offer introductory courses at zero cost, which allows learners to dip their toes into a new field or specialization without having to make any financial commitment.
Many of these platforms offer courses across varying levels of difficulty, providing learners with valuable educational opportunities. They are a great option for veterans to learn interesting skills that can potentially lead down a viable career path. Here are some notable learning platforms that offer special discounts or free online courses for veterans:
- Khan Academy. Fully free online courses using video-based learning.
- Codecademy. Free intro to tech courses. Upgrades are available with two pricing options.
- Udemy. Free fundamental courses. Prices for full courses vary.
- Coursera. Free intro courses. Subscriptions are available to unlock full courses.
- edX. Veterans and active-duty members enjoy a 20% tuition discount from 28 universities.
Tips for Veterans Starting Their Online Tech Education Journey
Starting a tech education journey as a veteran can be both exciting and rewarding. Now that you have chosen a free online course for veterans that fits your needs and goals, the next step requires a lot of effort and patience. Below are some tips to help you navigate this new path and make the most of your learning experience.
Set Clear Goals and Expectations
Decide what you want to achieve through your tech education. Whether it’s learning a specific programming language, getting certified in a certain field, or becoming a veteran in tech, having clear goals will keep you motivated and focused. It can also help you choose a learning path that matches your interest, commitment, and professional objectives.
Leverage Military Skills and Discipline for Online Learning
Veterans are trained to be disciplined. When starting an online course, make sure to create a study routine and manage your time effectively. Dedicate time for learning each day or week based on your personal schedule. Remember that consistency is key to mastering tech skills, so be patient with yourself on this journey and continue to make steady progress.
Seek Support From Fellow Veterans, Mentors, and Online Communities
Tech training can be challenging, especially if you are new to the field. It’s important to have a strong support system to help you through this journey. Fortunately, there are many online forums, social media groups, and communities for veterans in tech. They include VetSec, Coding for Veterans, and Northwest Veterans in Technology. Connecting with peers and other tech professionals can provide insights, support, and networking opportunities.
Are Free Online Courses for Veterans Worth It?
Free online courses for veterans can be very much worth it depending on your career goals, circumstances, and interests. They are particularly beneficial if you’re looking to learn without taking on a huge financial burden.
Some of the free courses are more comprehensive, equipping you with all the skills needed to succeed as a veteran in tech. Meanwhile, others are more suitable for those simply exploring new areas of interest. No matter which you choose, free IT training programs for veterans offer a flexible and cost-effective way to gain knowledge in various fields such as coding, cyber security, and data analytics.
Free Online Courses for Veterans FAQ
GI Bill benefits are only available for in-person programs. Eligible veterans interested in an online course can instead enroll in a VET TEC-approved program. On top of tuition, VET TEC also provides a housing allowance. This initiative is dedicated to equipping veterans with job-ready skills in the field of technology, allowing them to learn for free at any of the eligible programs and training centers approved by the VA.
Yes, active-duty service members and veterans who are eligible for the GI Bill can use their educational benefits to attend a coding bootcamp. However, a limited number of coding bootcamps are approved by the VA. They include Code Fellows, Coding Dojo, General Assembly, and V School. Eligible veterans can also attend a VET TEC-approved coding bootcamp to receive technical training for free.
It’s not hard to get a job in tech as a veteran if you are willing to put in the work and be open to learning new skills. Coming from a military background, veterans already possess a great set of transferable skills, such as teamwork, discipline, and communication. All of these skills are valued by employers. The only thing you need to round out your skills is technical training.
Some of the most accessible tech jobs for veterans are program managers, UX designers, IT support specialists, data analysts, and tech sales representatives. These roles are great for tech beginners as they pay well but don’t require coding skills. Other tech roles that match veterans’ backgrounds and experiences are software developers and cyber security specialists.
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