Leaving the military is always a stressful time, but with everything going on today, it is even more stressful. Most transitions are not spur-of-the-moment decisions, so it is probably something you have been planning for a year or more. But have you factored in the recent changes in the job market? Has you dream job suddenly vanished? If so, all may not be lost! It may be time to retrain.

During the last week of March 2020, unemployment claims soared to 6.6 million. The BLS predicts unemployment overall could reach the level it did during the Great Depression of 2008 – double digits. According to one survey, right now 11% of veterans are currently looking for work – and for the most part they are transitioned Post 9/11 veterans. So what can you do?

One strong area before the pandemic hit is poised to be even stronger in the aftermath – Information Technology and Cybersecurity. The BLS predicted the job outlook before the pandemic in this field to be 32% (much faster than average) with an employment change of 35,500 jobs by 2028. With many civilian employees now doing their job from home and students – both secondary and post-secondary – doing their coursework online, many experts predict growth in the computer network field will be even larger. Why?

After the pandemic is over, many employees and students will want to stay working online – some experts see it as our “new normal”. The result will be more IT and cybersecurity job opportunities for you … but only if you are ready.

The Veteran Advantage

When it comes to applying for these jobs, many veterans have a leg up on non-veteran applicants because the former have current security clearances yet from their military service. It can take an employer six months to a year to get a TS or TS/SCI clearance application approved, which is required for many of positions in this field, for an employee that has never had one and at a cost of several thousands of dollars. With everything else being equal except the clearance, who do you think an employer is most likely to consider hiring first – the person with a clearance or the one without?

But having a clearance isn’t everything; you must know how to do the job too. If you are not already trained in this field, a great way to get your foot in the door is to attend a “fast-track” high-tech training course in information science such as the ones sponsored through the VA-approved program called VET TEC. Training providers are GI Bill-approved so there is little to no out-of-pocket cash required; as a matter of fact, approved individuals with as little as one day of GI Bill eligibility left can get paid a monthly housing allowance while in training and course costs are paid by the VA. Some of the sponsored courses graduate students in as little as 14 weeks.

Once trained and into an entry-level job, veterans can then further their education at their leisure using their remaining GI Bill eligibility to get a bachelor’s or even advanced degree in IT or cybersecurity to qualify them for higher level and better paying jobs. In 2018, the median pay in this field with a 4-year degree was $98,350 per year.

If your transition plan was turned upside down and you want a fast solution in an exciting career field, this could be your golden opportunity. The jobs in IT and Cybersecurity requiring trained individuals with security clearances are many and varied, and employers are looking for qualified people like you to fill them.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.