Technology can be a great career to pursue after working in the military. As coding becomes an ever more lucrative industry, veterans are increasingly looking at the sector as a good way to adjust to a civilian career and life. The transition is often painless as veterans in tech can utilize many of their military skills such as persistence, problem-solving, and analytical thinking.
Starting with the first GI Bill in 1944, several programs have been developed to incentivize and train ex-military personnel aiming to turn themselves into tech wizards. With the digital talent gap growing, the number of tech jobs for veterans is growing dramatically, making this a great time to join this booming industry. In this guide, we explore coding training opportunities for vets in tech and how to go about finding fulfilling jobs in this industry.
Reasons to Pursue Tech Jobs for Veterans Seeking a Career Change
There are several reasons why more and more veterans are choosing a career in tech. First, government-sponsored programs, as well as the many free training programs available, make the tech industry an obvious career choice for many vets. Also, many popular tech jobs for veterans share similar responsibilities to common military positions. We consider these and other reasons to join the tech industry as a vet below.
Government Initiatives to Get Vets in Tech
The US government has recognized the technology sector as an important source of employment opportunities and has continuously strived to ease the transition from military to private sector careers.
One of the most famous initiatives to get vets into tech is the GI Bill, which was originally passed in 1944 but expanded subsequently. For example, the Forever GI Bill, passed in 2017, eliminated the need for veterans to use their GI Bill benefits within 15 years.
There is also the Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC) program, designed to help reskill veterans. The VET TEC covers tuition and housing costs for veterans wishing to pursue a technical vocation.
In 2015, President Obama launched the TechHire initiative to get 100,000 people working in technology. Obama believed tech training was creating the “workers of tomorrow,” equipping people with the technical skills needed to pursue middle-class careers and meaningful employment.
Career Transferability from Military Jobs to Tech Jobs
Many of the jobs that coding bootcamp and college students pursue after graduating from a tech-focused education are similar to those offered by the military, which makes it easier for veterans to transition into a good job in tech.
For example, vets who have worked in the Army Corps of Engineers as technical engineers, engineering supervisors, or technicians, those who have worked in the Cyber Branch of the Army, or people who have taken on military operator roles in satellite, radio, or telecommunications may be a good match for a myriad of computer jobs in the military.
Transferable Skills of Vets to Tech Roles
We already mentioned that many veterans in tech have responsibilities that are very similar to what they were doing during their service. In addition, there is the fact that ex-military often possess a set of skills that are extremely valuable to tech companies. These transferable skills from being a vet include expertise with certain equipment and software, leadership, communication, problem-solving, and the ability to perform well under pressure.
First, many veterans looking to join the tech industry already demonstrate impressive technical abilities. New military recruits are frequently required to quickly master certain technologies and equipment associated with their position. As they continue their service and technology evolves, they need to keep learning and expanding their technical repertoire. By the time they retire, their technical skills and ability to learn new technologies make them great candidates for many tech positions.
Secondly, many veterans develop strong leadership and collaboration skills while on duty. These traits are essential to thrive in the military, which is built upon a strict hierarchical system that demands the ability to issue orders confidently and effectively as well as obey them.
Military personnel often also display robust problem-solving skills because they have been trained to find answers under little or no supervision. Likewise, many veterans show an impressive ability to work well under pressure as many have been deployed in hostile territories and have learned to operate under the most stressful conditions.
Careers Available Across Industries
Technology has become an important component of every major industry. The healthcare, agriculture, and insurance industries are all leveraging the power of technology to boost efficiency. As more industries embrace tech, more people are needed to keep up with technological changes and develop applications.
In addition, an increasing number of products are relying on software, such as consumer electronics and appliances. This means that the demand for programmers is skyrocketing.
Job Demand Is High
Technology careers are increasingly seen as the future of work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average software developer earns $120,730 per year. Employment of software developers is expected to grow by 26 percent between 2021 and 2031. In the same period, employment of software quality assurance analysts and testers will grow by 21 percent, while all computer occupations combined will enjoy a job outlook of 15 percent.
There are hundreds of thousands of technology jobs open in the US right now, and not enough professionals to fill them. Every position that remains vacant is a missed opportunity for communities, businesses, and the country, who would all benefit from the innovation that such jobs create.
Quick Career Transition
Technology is already a popular career path for veterans, partially because coders can learn the trade relatively fast. The small-time investment involved makes the career choice particularly attractive to the veteran community looking to reintegrate into society as quickly as possible, particularly for those with relevant tech skills learned during their service.
While the skills needed to code are valuable and in high demand, they can be learned in a short period of time by those with a strong technical mind. In addition, the rise of non-traditional educational programs such as coding bootcamps has made it even easier for veterans to get the training they need to get their foot in the door.
Top Companies Targeting Veterans in Tech
Many companies, including Google, have made special provisions in their hiring practices to target veterans. These companies value the interpersonal skills veterans from all branches of service develop during their service, such as a strong work ethic, the ability to work as part of a team, problem-solving, and attention to detail.
Many veterans find great tech jobs after attending a bootcamp and receiving training in coding. Some renowned companies hiring vets include Lockheed Martin Corporation, The Boeing Company, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and General Electric (GE). Microsoft also prides itself on hiring vets as reflected in the establishment of the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA).
Another advantage of the tech sector is that workers are not confined to just one role or even one field. You may decide to become a software engineer today and go to a bootcamp to learn about software development. However, with plenty of different roles in the sector, you can always alter your career trajectory later and switch to a different job.
Bootcamps often teach highly transferable skills used across different jobs. Once you become familiar with one programming language, learning a second is easy. The average person changes jobs about 20 times in their career, so don’t worry about sticking with a role for the rest of your life. Compared to the military, the private sector is more flexible in terms of job opportunities and career changes.
Decide if a Vet to Tech Career Transition Is Right for You
One of the first things you should do is figure out how to tell your story. In your journey to break into a career in tech, you will have to introduce yourself to potential employers and discuss your past experience; knowing how to pitch yourself can mean the difference between success and failure. Take time to figure out your story and where you want to go from here. This will help you know what position best aligns with your unique skills and knowledge. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What did you accomplish in the military? What did you learn from your experience as a serviceperson? Why did you leave the military?
- Why do you want to pursue a career in technology? What interests you about technology?
Once you know a bit more about your own experience and motivation to enter the industry, you can make a more informed decision about your next move. If you decide you want to pursue a career in technology, knowing what type of role you want will make it easier to decide what program to join.
What Are the Best Tech Jobs for Veterans?
Jobs such as web developer, data analyst, and software developer are great for a successful transition from military vet to tech professional. As a trained veteran, you should be able to find plenty of job opportunities in the cyber security industry as well, perhaps as a cyber security specialist. These are some of the most popular tech jobs for veterans in the job market:
Full Stack Web Developer
A full stack web developer is responsible for building both front end and backend web applications for a company. Full stack web developers are responsible for developing the various components of a website and have an understanding of front end and backend technologies.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
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Full stack web developers need to know about the fundamentals of servers, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and how to code a webpage in HTML. You’ll learn all these skills in a full stack development bootcamp. According to Glassdoor, these developers are paid, on average, $86,833 per year.
Quality Assurance Analyst
A quality assurance (QA) analyst tests code to ensure it functions correctly and is in line with the project’s requirements. QA analysts look for problems in code, build workflows to ensure problems are caught before an application is published, and test software in multiple environments to ensure it functions properly in a variety of cases.
Data analysts work with data generated by a program or organization. They read raw data and analyze it to generate insights that help the business make better decisions. A data analyst may analyze engagement rates on a web application to determine when users stop using a website.
This information is then passed on to the development team so they can make the necessary changes. Companies of all sizes need data scientists, including organizations outside the tech sector. Getting a job as a data analyst, according to Glassdoor, can be lucrative. The average salary for a data analyst is around $71,603 per year.
Software engineers design, build, and maintain software for an organization. They generally work with a development team, writing code based on the specifications of their team and other stakeholders. Software engineers are often the most hands-on members of the team, constantly making changes to the code of an application.
Their goal is to ensure these programs run smoothly, and, to this end, they create the updates the software needs. A software engineer may also work with outside clients to identify problems in an application. According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a software engineer is around $105,923 per year.
Front End Web Developer
A popular position for many recent bootcamp graduates, front end web developers create the visual components of a website; those the user sees and interacts with. Front end web developers work to ensure web applications run smoothly across multiple devices.
They may also work alongside backend and full stack web developers to gain a firmer understanding of the developer stack as a whole. The average salary for a front end web developer is around $77,834, according to Glassdoor.
Cyber Security Specialist
Pursuing a career in cyber security is a great option for veterans in tech. As a cyber security specialist, a typical workday involves defending hardware and software systems. This is done by identifying weaknesses in the systems, creating defensive plans, and sometimes even hacking the system yourself to see how it can be done. The median annual pay for a cyber security specialist is $91,110 per year.
Education Options to Transition From Vet to Tech Professional
Going from vet to tech is easier if you have spent some time developing your skills. Fortunately, there are many ways to get the training you need, regardless of your background, including coding bootcamps and traditional academic degrees. We delve into each option in detail below.
A popular way of acquiring coding skills is to attend a bootcamp. Like a military bootcamp, a coding bootcamp is a short and intensive program that aims to teach a specific set of skills. While a college computer science program may put the emphasis on the theory, bootcamps are all about teaching practical skills demanded in the labor market.
Coding bootcamps are becoming an increasingly popular method to learn coding and transition to tech. In a recent Hired.com report, researchers found that the number of aspiring tech professionals learning to code through non-traditional means, such as coding bootcamps, is growing.
As a veteran looking to join the tech sector, a coding bootcamp is particularly appealing. Bootcamp programs allow veterans to get trained and transition to the private sector in a matter of months. In addition, many established coding bootcamps can be financed using GI Bill benefits. There are also many bootcamps that offer scholarships specifically to veterans, such as Code Platoon and General Assembly.
- Short time investment required. The average length of a bootcamp is only 15 weeks. If you are looking to start earning income shortly after returning home, a bootcamp can help you land a well-paying job fast. Bootcamps often have high job placement rates.
- Focus on in-demand skills. Bootcamps put the focus on programming languages and the terminology you are likely to encounter on the job. This helps ease the transition into full-time employment in tech.
- Cheaper than college. Tuition may be tens of thousands of dollars per year in a university with a strong computer science degree program. By contrast, the average cost of a coding bootcamp is $11,727, according to Career Karma’s State of the Bootcamp Market Report 2021. This makes it a good option for veterans who may lack savings or need their savings to transition into the workforce.
- Career services. As a nice bonus, many bootcamps offer comprehensive career support to students and graduates to ensure they land a good job. This support can take the form of career counseling, technical interview practice, and resume review services, among others.
- High earning potential. Graduates of coding bootcamps earn more after graduating than bachelor’s degree holders, as a recent Arc study shows.
Veterans eyeing a career in tech can always pursue the more traditional option, that of pursuing a college degree. The main advantage of this path is that most computer science degrees pay off well. In addition, earning a college degree may open up opportunities that you would lack if you only attain a certification as many employers still place a lot of importance on traditional education.
- Well-rounded curriculum. With college programs, the emphasis is on creating well-rounded professionals. If you are looking for a more complete academic experience, a college degree may be the better option over a bootcamp that focuses solely on practical skills.
- Full-time study required. Consider also that it may be difficult to work full-time if you are enrolled in a university, and four years is a long time without an income.
- High cost. Some community colleges offer cheaper programs, but tuition may still be as high as $20,000 per year. Veterans returning home after their service may not have the financial resources to afford to earn a university degree.
- More job opportunities. Employers sometimes favor candidates that have earned a college degree after four years in an academic environment.
- Career growth options. Many view a college degree as a safer path to a successful career in tech, as many executive jobs require a degree. Because of all the theoretical knowledge you will acquire, a college degree may be a good option if you are a veteran eyeing higher positions in the tech field.
Vet Tech Training Programs
The shortage of professionals in the tech industry is a growing problem, with almost 715,000 roles going unfulfilled in the field of cyber security alone, according to a recent SC Media article. Many companies and nonprofit organizations see veterans as a potential source of talent to fill this gnawing gap.
The companies and organizations below see the value that veterans can bring to the private sector and, in collaboration with education providers and the intelligence community, have set up veteran tech programs to help them make the transition. Many of these tech training programs for veterans come at no cost to the learner.
- NPower. This national nonprofit helps veterans and young adults launch digital careers through programs with a strong in-classroom time component. According to its site, over 80 percent of students land jobs or continue their education after completing this veteran tech training program. Graduates experience an average salary bump of 361 percent.
- IBM. IBM SkillsBuild has an excellent platform to train young and adult learners in different IT-related areas. Thanks to a partnership with Veteran Affairs, former military personnel undergoing training through VET TEC have access to a customized learning plan.
- USO. The USO Pathfinder Transition Program helps active and retired members of the military create customized career transition plans by connecting them with strategic partners like Skillsoft and Coursera. This nonprofit organization also provides mentorship and support in financial matters.
- Cisco. Digital communications technology giant Cisco has designed a program to provide veterans and their spouses with free training to become security analysts, digital forensics analysts, and network auditors, among other professions. To make this possible, the company collaborates with the likes of Amazon Web Services, (ISC)2, and Palo Alto Networks.
- Apprenti. This non-profit specializes in placing veterans and their spouses in paid apprenticeships. After one year as an apprentice, the veteran gets to interview for a full-time position at the host company. Apprenti works with top-tier companies like Amazon and Microsoft.
You can always teach yourself coding. Many successful developers are self-taught, having developed their skills using online courses, books, and tutorials. Veterans may find this a viable alternative to bootcamps or university, but they should consider a few things before getting started.
- Learning style. You should have a solid understanding of the learning style that suits you best. If you work well independently, teaching yourself may be a good option. However, if you fare better as part of a team, attending a coding bootcamp or other training provider is probably better for you as you will be interacting with fellow students, mentors, and teachers.
- Curriculum. Consider the difficulty of creating your own curriculum. There are so many resources out there to learn to code, and knowing where to start can be really hard. If you have some technical experience, navigating these resources and figuring out what’s best for you may be easier. If not, utilizing some sort of training provider could be a better call.
- Lack of credentials. Teaching yourself means you earn no official accreditation or degree, which are useful documents when looking for jobs. Although you may have the skills the job requires, pitching yourself to employers may be difficult without the backing of an institution.
Required Skills for Veterans in Tech
We already discussed that a great way for veterans to learn tech skills is to attend a coding bootcamp. The good news is that most veterans possess the traits needed to complete a coding bootcamp, like problem-solving abilities and some technical knowledge of computing. In addition, discipline, a strong work ethic, and willingness to work hard are also essential to completing these courses.
Bootcamp students may work upwards of 40 hours a week on assignments, so discipline and willingness to work hard are important elements of success. Coders are constantly encountering problems that must be dealt with promptly and efficiently, thus strong problem-solving abilities are a must.
You won’t need high-tech skills to get started in a bootcamp, but you will definitely learn them during your bootcamp training program. You can count on your chosen training provider to give you all the skills you need to be successful in the tech industry.
Coding Bootcamps for Veterans
Coding bootcamps are intensive, fast-paced programs in which the student learns everything they need to know to pursue a career in technology. These courses are a great option for veterans looking to break into tech but who lack the technical skills of a coder. Even if you have studied programming or computing during your service, bootcamps can help you fill in the gaps to prepare you for a career in coding as a civilian.
The following is a list of the best coding bootcamps for veterans:
- Code Platoon
- Operation Code
- Vets Who Code
- Skill Distillery
- Claim Academy
- Divergence Academy
- Zip Code Wilmington
How Does a Bootcamp Application Process Work?
The bootcamp application process may be different from other applications you have encountered throughout your career and military service. First, you’ll need to submit a written application to your training provider of choice. You will then be approached for an interview, a technical challenge, or both.
You may also be asked to participate in a technical challenge, a take-home assignment that should take between 30 minutes and a few hours to complete. This challenge will help the bootcamp organizers assess your technical aptitude and figure out whether you are a good fit for the program.
The Bootcamp Interview
If you are interviewed, the person or persons sitting across the desk will want to know about your experience and why you are interested in attending the bootcamp, among other things. The goal is to assess your technical capabilities and find out if you are a good fit for the program.
To prepare for this interview, spend some time researching the specific bootcamp you are applying for and reflecting on why you want to attend it. It never hurts to read a few entries on the bootcamp’s blog or testimonials written by former students.
During the interview, you will be given the opportunity to ask questions. These are a few of the things you may want to inquire about:
- What special veterans services do you offer? Do you offer tailored career support?
- Are there any scholarships available to veterans?
- Do you have any experience working with and teaching former military personnel?
- Do you offer good programs for veterans getting into tech?
From Military Vets to Tech Professionals: The Post-Graduation Experience
There’s no doubt that graduating from a coding bootcamp increases the likelihood of finding a great job. Most students find a relevant job within six months of graduation. Four out of five US companies have hired a bootcamp graduate and nearly all HR managers say they would hire a bootcamp graduate again, according to Indeed.
Adding to this, there are many companies that favor hiring qualified veterans due to the strong interpersonal skills developed during military service. As you can see, graduating from a bootcamp will put you in a strong position to land your dream tech job, but there are a few more things you can do to ensure success.
Take Advantage of Career Support Services
If you have served in the military from a young age, you may be unfamiliar with some of the steps in the hiring process used in the private sector, including things like resume reviews, technical interviews, and culture fit meetings. Bootcamps can help you with this once you complete the program. For example, your bootcamp may help you rework your resume so that it highlights what employers are looking for.
Attend Networking Events and Workshops
Many bootcamps offer networking opportunities to meet employers looking to hire. You can also expect your bootcamp to let you know about workshops that can help you prepare for the labor market and practice your technical interview skills. Attending these workshops and training will help you improve your pitch to employers.
Target Tech Companies Intentionally Hiring Qualified Veterans
Google, Amazon, Microsoft, GoDaddy, and Cisco, to name a few, have all made strong commitments to hiring veterans. You can find several lists on the Internet of employers looking to hire veterans and bootcamp graduates.
You may even find job postings specifically for veterans or job descriptions in which military experience is recommended. Conducting this research upfront maximizes your chances of finding a good job after graduation.
How Can I Finance My Coding Bootcamp as a Veteran in Tech?
Bootcamps can be expensive. The average tuition fee is around $11,727. Because they are not accredited institutions, bootcamps cannot offer financial aid such as Pell Grants. This means students must use personal savings or private financing options to cover the cost. Alternatively, they can look for scholarships for veterans. Some coding bootcamps even have vet discounts.
Make sure to research your financing options, particularly those targeting veterans. Below, you’ll find a list of ways you can pay for your coding bootcamp, either before studying begins or after. To learn more, speak to veterans who have been through a bootcamp and asked them about financing.
GI Bill Educational Benefits
GI Bill educational benefits can be used to fund coding bootcamps. As long as they meet the requirements set forth by the Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans in tech can receive full tuition coverage, a monthly housing stipend, and even a yearly book stipend from this bill. Here are some coding bootcamps that accept the GI Bill:
- Cincy Code IT
- Claim Academy
- Code Fellows
- Code Immersives
- Code Platoon
- Deep Dive Coding
- DevPoint Labs
- Divergence Academy
- Eleven Fifty Academy
- General Assembly
- PDX Code Guild
- Operation Code
- SecureSet Academy
- Skill Distillery
- Tech Elevator
- The Software Guild
- Turing School
- V School
- We Can Code IT
- Wyncode Academy
- Zip Code Wilmington
VET TEC Coding Training
Following the Forever GI Bill, the Department of Veterans Affairs launched the Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC) program. This scheme aims to help veterans acquire skills in technical fields to thrive in the modern economy.
Veterans who are eligible for the VET TEC program are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. To apply for the program, veterans need only one day of unexpired GI Bill benefits. The program does not use GI Bill benefits but pays a monthly housing stipend to students.
Many bootcamps have entered partnerships with companies that offer loans to their students. Some of these firms are Ascent Funding, Affirm, and Climb Credit. These loans are usually short-term with interest rates between three and eight percent. This option gives you access to all the money you need to finance your education on favorable terms. Accessing these loans, however, may be difficult if your credit history is not long.
Veterans have access to a wide variety of coding bootcamp scholarships based on the length and type of military service, merit, and gender. These scholarships may cover some or all of the tuition. Some bootcamps offer scholarships and discounts not just to veterans, but to dependents or spouses too.
An example of this is Code Platoon, which offers scholarships for veterans and their spouses. Also worth noting are the organizations that donate tech equipment to veterans in need, such as Tech for Troops. Below are some of the scholarships for veterans offered by top coding bootcamps:
|Claim Academy||Veteran Scholarship||$500|
|Coding Dojo||Military Retraining Scholarship||$1,000|
|Code Fellows||Diversity Scholarship Fund||50-75% of tuition|
|Code Platoon||Veteran and spouse scholarships||up to $15,500|
|General Assembly||Military Tuition Discount||$1,595|
Job Guarantees and ISAs
Several coding bootcamps have a job guarantee. If students do not get hired within a certain amount of time, the school refunds some or all of the tuition. Some bootcamps offer a partial refund if you aren’t able to find a job. Others provide a partial refund if you find a job but you earn under a certain amount.
A growing number of bootcamps also offer income share agreements (ISAs). Because the financial risks associated with pursuing an education are minimized, many consider ISAs to also be a type of job guarantee, though in reality, they are quite different.
In essence, an ISA lets the student complete their program without making any payments, with the exception perhaps of paying a deposit. The student only starts paying back the school once they graduate and start earning over a certain amount.
ISAs are similar to deferred payment plans, the difference being that with ISAs you pay a fixed percentage of your income monthly, whereas with deferred tuition you pay a fixed amount of tuition every month regardless of your actual income.
Is a Vet to Tech Career Transition Right for You?
Yes, a career in technology can be an excellent option for veterans. Military personnel often display many of the interpersonal skills needed to thrive in the technical environment of a development team. If you are a veteran, you have most likely developed a strong work ethic and problem-solving skills during your service. Both are very valued in the tech industry.
The technology sector is projected to experience enormous growth over the next few years, with many new jobs entering the market. With so many training opportunities available, such as coding bootcamps, there has never been a better time for veterans to enter the tech sector.
Veterans in Tech FAQ
Many tech giants do believe veterans make better employees. This is because qualified veterans already have the interpersonal skills and many of the soft skills needed to succeed in a civilian career. Combine these skills with the tech skills learned through a bootcamp or college degree program, and veterans end up becoming highly desired candidates.
What are the benefits for tech companies to hire veterans?
Tech companies commonly hire veterans because of the skills they have developed during their service and their experience working in a high-stress environment. Companies also hire ex-military as a way to give back. Veterans have spent years of their lives protecting and serving civilians, and tech companies can thank them for their service by utilizing their impressive skillset and offering them jobs.
Is it difficult for veterans to find jobs in tech?
It can be difficult for veterans to find jobs in tech. The typical image of a tech worker is that of a younger person who is college-aged. Most veterans are a bit older, and this may lead some people to think they are not tech-savvy. However, many tech giants recognize how skilled veterans are and go out of their way to hire them.
What strengths do veterans have?
When it comes to a career in the tech sector, veterans have many strengths that make them good employees. Veterans often show great discipline as well as leadership, communication, and problem solving skills. In addition, many ex-military already have expertise in technologies and software commonly used in the industry.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.