Military occupations require significant trained or inherent technology skills. So, whether or not you want to work in IT on the cleared or commercial side, veterans have many options in their career moves.

Knowing that your skills are invaluable will help you readily apply them to your future work with some training. Fortunately, companies such as Microsoft and Cisco offer free or low-cost training to military and veterans who desire to get into the IT and Cybersecurity field.

IT Functions Framework

The key is to see that IT functions align to many of the skills already obtained by transitioning service members. Analyze and align these to your capabilities, likes, and dislikes as you educate yourself on your future direction. To assist with your analysis there is an IT Functions framework, providing a basis for your decisions while transitioning into commercial IT field.

6 Basic IT Functions

The first four technical functions are diverse; consisting of numerous planning, design, administration, and break fix activities:

  1. Telecommunications and network services,
  2. Data center and cloud services,
  3. Application and software support, and
  4. IT support services.

The last two functions  are important and span all IT functions, and have an embedded, cross functional nature and are shown vertically:

  1. Cybersecurity
  2. Management

Cross Functional Roles Are A Perfect Fit for Veterans

Cybersecurity is an essential career field, and these workers are generally well versed in most IT functions. Today, with ever increasing threats, most IT personnel must be knowledgeable in their functional area and constantly aware of potential security vulnerabilities and risks.

Each functional area has managers (data center manager, network manager, etc.). However, there are many IT managers that provide cross functionality or IT organizational management. As a senior NCO or Officer, the good news is your military experience has generally required you to lead and manage personnel. IT management is a great transitional career field for many leaders from the military and certainly one in which you can aspire.

IT Certifications Are Key

Certifications are one of the key methods to prove your knowledge obtained during military service to a future employer. Some certifications are valuable across all IT career fields, while others apply to specific qualities needed in particular occupations. There are two main groupings of certifications: entry level and advanced. Entry-level certification allows you to take examination with little or no experience. They are usually generalized exams that are valuable across multiple IT career fields, with reasonable cost.  The entry level exams cover terminology, basic knowledge, and certify the ability to understand concepts learned.

Where To Start With Certifications

When starting out, it is a good idea to get a few IT certifications that cross multiple IT career fields. Broad-based certifications will pay bigger dividends initially by enabling you to compete for multiple entry level IT positions and by providing better ROI for your time and money. Further, you can boost your confidence knowing you have an industry-recognized certification, quickly adding it to your resume.

Stay Competitive Over Time

As you increase your experience and knowledge, recognize that your competition will seek certifications of increased complexity and experience to remain competitive. Remember, advanced certification adds credibility, especially when transitioning between companies and industries. Because of the increased credibility, certifications can be advantageous for both hiring and promotion.

Don’t Forget Project Management

If you do decide to go the IT management track, certification will again be a key factor in getting hired. Getting Project Management Professional (PMP) certified provides recognition of your project management knowledge, skills, and abilities, while reflecting demonstrated excellence, leading to greater earnings and more career opportunities and potential for advancement. Interestingly, the PMP provides a competitive advantage within the IT management job market as this certification is encouraged or required by 42% of employers.

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Jay Hicks is an author, instructor and consultant. With a special kinship for military personnel, Jay provides guidance on successful civilian career transition and has co-authored “The Transitioning Military Series”. He is the co-founder of Gr8Transitions4U, where advocating the value of hiring military personnel is the key focus. More about Jay and his passion can be found at