Cleared, transitioning servicemembers now have a new avenue for furthering their IT training and certification – and guaranteed IT jobs are part of the deal.

This week, Microsoft launched the Microsoft Software & Systems Academy, which offers free software development training and testing for transitioning service members.  The 16-week course builds on service members’ technical skills and helps prepare them for industry-recognized IT certifications as developers, applications engineers and IT project managers.  Once they complete the program, they’re offered IT  jobs as software testers at Microsoft or Launch Consulting, the company administering the program.

According to Microsoft, the training could lead to high-skilled engineering jobs, many of which require security clearances.  Along with stocks and bonuses, those jobs can translate into six-figure salaries.

“Servicemembers possess the drive, self-discipline and problem-solving skills essential for the technology industry,” said Microsoft Executive Vice President, Brad Smith.  “The Microsoft Software & Systems Academy is a bridge between one great career, serving in the military, and another, creating technologies that improve lives.”

Working in partnership with Saint Martin’s University, Microsoft launched the pilot program at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma, Washington.  The program is hosted on the installation to ensure that separating servicemembers can take part during their last months of military service, a critical time for looking ahead at civilian careers.

Microsoft plans to expand the program in the coming months to other key military installations in California and Texas, but it has not yet announced specific sites.

The program was implemented following the passage of the Vow to Hire Heroes Act, which allows service members to start their civilian employment process prior to separating from the service.

Active duty servicemembers and members of the National Guard and Reserves from all branches of the military are eligible for the program.  The first group of students will complete the program in December.


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Tranette Ledford is a writer and owner of Ledford, LLC, which provides writing, editorial and public relations consulting for defense, military and private sector businesses. You can contact her at: