“Solving tomorrow’s biggest challenges— particularly in the defense space—requires technology solutions that improve performance, readiness, and resilience,” said Greg Wenzel, Booz Allen executive vice president and global defense digital battlespace lead. “We need people who understand the mission challenges and can bring the best emerging technologies to help our clients solve them through modernization.”

While clearance processing times are improving, the number of cleared DoD contractors has stayed fairly consistent at approximately 1 million individuals with a current DoD clearance making up the DoD contractor candidate pool. If you’re a cleared recruiter, that probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise – poaching is largely seen as the only way to find candidates with the skills, experience, and clearance needed to do the job. But if poaching is your only talent acquisition strategy, it’s time to consider another option: reskilling. And when it comes to upskilling or reskilling into a cleared job, veterans offer one of the best pools of talent for recruiters to consider.

Learn more in our latest white paper, ‘How and Why Veterans Should Reskill Into Technology Jobs.’

With more than 200,000 service members on the job search each year and the vast majority of them holding  a security clearance, they’re a key talent pool for cleared recruiters. But the reality is that not every applicant has the perfect match of skills and experience to perform the job today. Enter upskilling. With all of the soft skills and technical skills veterans bring to the table, they’re a great fit for pursuing the many technical job opportunities in the cleared space. Companies today who want to remain competitive must focus not just on making the new hire who can hit the ground running, but the new hire who will dedicate the time to learn a new skill. Trainability is key – and veterans typically have numerous examples in their background of times when they tackled a new job or assignment that was vastly different than the one they anticipated.

And the great news for defense industry employers today is there are a number of programs and vendors to partner with to help in the upskilling and reskilling journey.

Here a few to consider:

  • Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) is one vendor-specific option within the DoD SkillBridge program. It is an 18-week, in-depth program in high demand areas such as server and cloud administration, database and business intelligence, cloud application development, and cybersecurity administration.
  • The Federal Virtual Training Environment (FedVTE) program is a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiative offering courses ranging from general security awareness to highly technically advanced certifications. The 60 courses offered all fall within the NICE (National Institute for Cybersecurity Education) framework by building the necessary KSAs (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities) necessary to enter the cybersecurity workforce.
  • CyberVetsUSA is a cyber industry-led initiative that offers free online training and certifications to transitioning service members. Their courses are a skills-to-jobs pathway that fast-tracks veterans into high demand cyber careers. Booz Allen has also identified multiple no cost or low-cost cyber training options that help veterans invest in the in-demand skills.
  • Onward to Opportunity Information Security Courses—is a self-paced, no cost career skills program through Syracuse University for service members to get certifications for CompTIA Security+, CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+), Information Systems Security Certified Professional (CISSP)
  • Booz Allen Tech Excellence Cyber Core Program is an option for some Booz Allen candidates. Candidates can let their recruiter know of their desire to participate in this inhouse training program. Participants can get CompTIA Security + certification with this offering.
  • VetsinTech Security+ Bootcamp is a free, five-day bootcamp to get participants ready to get their CompTIA Security + certification.


Until major shifts are made in the security clearance supply and demand, upskilling and reskilling are a critical part of any successful talent management strategy. As you consider your cleared job openings, consider how veteran talent can help you accomplish the mission.


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Evan H. Lesser is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of ClearanceJobs.com. Before founding ClearanceJobs, Mr. Lesser managed technical projects with CACI for the U.S. Navy's Science and Technology directorate at the Pentagon, and for the Joint Technology Panel on Electronic Warfare. Previously, he worked for Boeing on its Reserve Component Automation System program for the U.S. Army in metro Washington, DC. Mr. Lesser has a degree in Philosophy from the University of Georgia in Athens, and lives and works in the Atlanta metropolitan area.