Since the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy was launched in 2013, the program has helped train transitioning U.S. service members and veterans, including those with clearance, for careers in the technology industry.

The full-time tech training program, which is overseen by the Microsoft Military Affairs Team and made up veterans who already understand how challenging it can be to make the transition to the civilian workforce, was designed to include a mix of solid theoretical foundation lessons that utilize practical, hands-on exercises, virtual labs and certifications testing to prepare students for challenging tech jobs. MSSA has provided a 16- to 17-week training for a variety of high demand careers and recently this has included those looking for the burgeoning opportunities in cloud development and administration.

Unlike many other tech boot camps or other technology focused upskilling programs, which focus primarily on the coding or other software training, MSSA also teaches participants the soft skills that have become increasingly crucial to succeed in technology jobs. This further helps graduates make that transition from the military world to the civilian job market.

Graduates of the program have been guaranteed to have an interview with Microsoft or one of its hiring partners, many of which are Fortune 500 companies. In June 2019, MSSA hit a major achievement by reaching its own 500-milestone – the number of partners that regularly hired those who successfully complete the program. That number has continued to grow and has recently surpassed 600 partner companies.

Over 95% of MSSA graduates have been either employed or opted to complete their college degree. MSSA has reported that graduates enjoy an average salary of more than $70,000.

Going Virtual

The global novel coronavirus pandemic certainly disrupted training across the information technology space, and Microsoft has announced that beginning this month, MSSA will now be permanently offered virtually with classes offered online. In addition, the tech giant also announced that it will fully fund the program.

“I’m thrilled for what this means in terms of deepening our support for the U.S. military community and advancing #digitalskills for the good of our industry,” said Chris Cortez, vice president of military affairs at Microsoft.

“We are excited that students will no longer need to use their GI Bill to cover costs of the program, which will be accessible remotely to all eligible military service members nationwide across time zones, even if they are living outside the country,” Cortez told ClearanceJobs via an email. “These are significant steps we’re taking to deepen the support this program offers, in line with our efforts to support our country’s military community with relevant training opportunities that lead to meaningful tech careers.”

Previously classes were held in an in-person classroom setting, but Cortez explained that the pandemic changed the in-person training model. Since moving to online-only instruction, MSSA has had the opportunity to reassess its strategy and also ensure that it is still best serving the community that had served the country.

MSSA is open to honorably discharged veterans as well as active duty service members with authorization from their units or commands. In January 2020, the MSSA program met a goal to graduate its 100th cohort.

MSSA holds weekly information sessions, a mandatory part of the application process, every Tuesday at both noon and 3 p.m. EST. Those interested in the program can visit the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy website or email MSCAops@microsoft.com to receive an invitation.

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer who covers business technology and cyber security. He currently lives in Michigan and can be reached at petersuciu@gmail.com.