7 Schools for Returning Military Service Members
Enrolling in a trade school after military service can be challenging. Some institutions lack programs that allow returning service members to maximize their potential.
Others may be unable to offer the funding and resources veterans need to succeed in the classroom. However, there are military-friendly trade schools vets should consider when furthering their education or pursuing new career paths.
What Makes a Trade School Good for Veterans?
Trade schools are an excellent option for veterans looking to further their education.
Many returning military service members who enroll in vocational programs enjoy the hands-on training they get to supplement their traditional classroom instruction.
Others like the flexible scheduling that allows them to balance their work, home, and school obligations more easily.
A Shorter Cost Efficient Way to Establish a Career
However, one of the most common reasons veterans choose to attend trade schools over traditional colleges and universities is that they can complete a program in less time and for less money. Instead of taking two to four years to get a degree, you can finish a trade school course in anywhere from six months to a year and start working in your chosen field.
Applying Military Training to Skilled Trades
Many of the skills veterans learn in the military are also essential for those working in trade careers.
For example, the same teamwork, communication, and interpersonal skills that helped you build relationships with fellow service members and commanding officers may come into play when interacting with employers, coworkers, and customers.
Other transferable military skills that are essential for trade jobs include analytical thinking, risk management, attention to detail, adaptability, and the ability to work well under pressure.
Specific Skills Learned in the Military
Some military skills might even relate to a specific trade, like applying weapons training to a job in criminal justice or going from a fighter pilot to an airline or commercial pilot.
Whatever branch of the military you served in, you can find a skilled trade or vocational school program that helps you apply the skills and training you learned in the military to a civilian career. In fact, many trade schools offer specific workshops and resources for veterans looking to make a smooth transition from the military to the workforce.
Must-Haves for a Military-Friendly Trade School
Generally speaking, a military-friendly trade school should have the four elements below.
1. Financial Aid for Military Students
Tuition assistance from U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs programs and GI Bill Benefits or through military-specific scholarship and grant opportunities.
2. Veteran-Specific Academic Assistance
Academic advisors that help veterans choose programs that suit their military skillset and possibly receive course credits for previous military experience.
3. Post-Graduation Career Placement Resources
Resume-crafting workshops, interview practice, job fairs, and networking events to help students find jobs with military-friendly employers and organizations.
4. On-Campus, Student-Run Veteran's Center
A strong community of military students offering vouchers for food, transportation and books, plus support through study and tutoring groups and counseling referrals.
List of Schools & Programs for Veterans
Many trade schools have specialized programs that help veterans pursue careers in the most popular industries for returning military service members.
Consider some of the following institutions to find courses that complement your particular military skillset and educational resources and assistance for veterans.
Tech: UMBC Training Centers
Tech careers are a fitting and popular career option for veterans since military service often requires working with and testing cutting-edge technology in high-stress environments and situations. Part of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), UMBC Training Centers offer several VA-approved courses, particularly in tech areas like cyber security and software engineering and development
Veterans whose military duties involved fabrication and metalworking often make a smooth transition into a welding career. Military students can complete a fast-track welding certification course through Texas A&M Engineering Extension Services. TEEX’s Military Outreach Skills Training (M.O.S.T.) also assists with job placement opportunities for veterans who complete the program.
Service Technician: Total Tech
Many returning military service members pursue skilled trades like plumbing, electrical work, HVAC and refrigeration, which require steady hands, intense focus, and strict compliance with government regulations. Total Tech offers veteran training-approved electrical, HVAC and plumbing programs and accepts GI Bill benefits for students who need tuition assistance.
The Universal Technical Institute is a GI Bill-approved school offering support and assistance to returning military service members. Veterans can enroll in the school’s automotive, marine, diesel technology, or motorcycle repair program and learn how to leverage their military experience into a promising career.
Aircraft Mechanics: NAA
If you previously served in the United States Airforce, consider enrolling at the National Aviation Academy and becoming an aircraft mechanic. You can learn to apply the same skills and technical training you learned in the military to a career in replacing faulty aircraft parts and troubleshooting mechanical and electrical issues to keep planes functioning properly.
Commercial Diving: DIT
Veteran owned and operated since 1968, the Divers Institute of Technology is an excellent choice for returning military service members interested in SCUBA instructor, underwater welding, and dive medical technician careers. DIT also offers tuition assistance and several resources to help veterans build a strong on-campus community.
Healthcare: UCLA CPC
An ability to render life-saving medical aid in high-stress, fast-paced environments is essential for EMT, EKG, and surgical tech careers, so they’re perfect for those who served as medics during their military careers. UCLA’s Center for Prehospital Care offers assistance benefits to veterans in their paramedics program.
Finding a Military-Friendly Trade School
Whether you’re shifting back into civilian life between deployments or are looking to enter a new line of work once you retire from the military, these schools and programs can help make the transition smoother. Choose a career path that suits your skills and interests, then use a VA search engine tool to find military-friendly institutions in your area and compare GI Bill benefits across schools.