A career in tech is an attractive prospect for veterans transitioning to civilian life. Software engineering, cyber security, and other tech careers offer high salaries, job security, and professional fulfillment. In addition, the transition is often painless as veterans typically possess many of the skills that IT careers demand, 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 in tech skills. In this guide, we explore these and other coding training opportunities for people transitioning from military to tech. We also show how to go about finding fulfilling jobs in this industry.
Table of Contents
- Tech careers offer a smooth transition for veterans with adaptable skills.
- Government programs like GI Bill and VET TEC support veteran tech education and can be used to fund coding bootcamps.
- Military skills align well with tech roles. These skills include problem-solving, leadership, and adaptability.
- Tech industry’s high demand offers lucrative salaries and rapid career transition.
- Coding bootcamps, college degrees, and veteran-specific programs are great paths for tech education.
- Coding bootcamps offer short, intensive training with job placement support.
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: Various government-sponsored programs, like the GI Bill and VET TEC, facilitate veterans’ entry into the tech industry, offering financial support for education and training.
- Transferable military skills: The skills acquired during military service, such as technical expertise, leadership, problem-solving, and working under pressure, align well with tech roles.
- Diverse industry opportunities: Technology is integral to numerous industries, resulting in a wide range of tech job opportunities beyond traditional programming roles.
- High demand: Tech careers are lucrative and in demand, with projected growth for software developers and other computer-related professions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a software engineer in the US is $120,730.
- Swift career transition: Tech jobs often require relatively short training periods, appealing to veterans seeking rapid reintegration into civilian life.
- Veteran-friendly companies: Many tech companies actively recruit veterans due to their strong work ethic, teamwork skills, and attention to detail.
- Career flexibility: The tech sector offers diverse roles, allowing professionals to switch paths and develop new skills over their careers.
Things to Consider Before Transitioning From Military to Tech
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.
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.
The following questions can help you better understand your motivation to transition into tech. They can also help you create a cohesive story around your professional life that you can use during job interviews:
- 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?
Required Skills for Veterans in Tech
Military veterans transitioning to the tech industry often possess valuable skills that align well with the demands of technology roles. Their training fosters proficiency in problem-solving, adaptability, and working under pressure, which are all attributes essential in the dynamic tech industry.
In addition, leadership experience equips veterans with strong teamwork, communication, and decision-making abilities. Likewise, technical aptitude gained from operating diverse equipment during service complements coding and software proficiency.
Finally, the dedication, discipline, and commitment ingrained in military life enable veterans to excel in project management, cyber security, and software development. These skills, combined with a thirst for continuous learning, make veterans valuable assets in the tech world.
What Are the Best Tech Jobs for Veterans?
Jobs such as data analyst, software developer, and quality assurance analyst are great for a successful transition from military vet to tech professional. The table below shows these and other popular tech jobs for veterans alongside the average salary and job outlook.
|Cyber Security Specialist
|Full Stack Web Developer
|Front End Web Developer
|Quality Assurance Analyst
* Data taken from the BLS page for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers
Tech Jobs for Veterans: A Closer Look
Below, we explore veteran tech jobs in more depth, going over common responsibilities as well as required skills and education.
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 need to know about the fundamentals of servers, APIs, and how to code a webpage in HTML. You’ll learn all these skills in a full stack development bootcamp.
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. With experience, you can work your way up to becoming a quality assurance manager.
Data analysts read raw data and analyze it to generate insights that help businesses 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. Fortunately, there are various platforms and services to help you land your first role as a data analyst.
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.
Front End Web Developer
A popular position for many recent bootcamp graduates, front end web developers create the visual components of a website. 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.
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.
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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 theory, bootcamps are all about teaching practical skills demanded in the labor market.
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.
Benefits of Coding Bootcamps
- Small time investment. The average length of a bootcamp is around six months. 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 around $13,000. This makes bootcamps 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.
Benefits and Drawbacks of College Degrees
- 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. 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.
Popular Tech Training Programs for Veterans
- 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.
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. Also, keep in mind that teaching yourself means you earn no official accreditation or degree, which are useful documents when looking for jobs.
Coding Bootcamps for Veterans
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, a coding bootcamp is a great option to learn to code. Many coding bootcamps have programs that target veterans specifically. Still, many others offer veteran-friendly payment options, such as financing through the GI Bill or VET TEC. Here is a list of what are widely considered to be the best coding bootcamps for veterans:
- Claim Academy
- Code Platoon
- Divergence Academy
- Operation Code
- Skill Distillery
- Vets Who Code
- Zip Code Wilmington
How Can I Finance My Coding Bootcamp as a Veteran in Tech?
The average price of a coding bootcamp, according to Career Karma’s 2023 State of the Bootcamp Market report, is $12,953. This is not pocket change. Fortunately, bootcamps, although not eligible for federal financial aid, offer various funding options. Explore these avenues to afford coding education:
- GI Bill educational benefits: Veterans can use GI Bill benefits for tuition coverage, housing stipends, and book allowances at coding bootcamps like BoiseCodeWorks and General Assembly.
- VET TEC coding training: Many coding bootcamp can be financed through the Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC) program. This program aims to help veterans get the training needed to start a career in the high-tech industry.
- Private lenders: Partnered bootcamps offer loans from lenders such as Ascent Funding and Affirm, assisting students in covering costs. For example, to afford the cost of devCodeCamp, you can take out a loan with Ascent Funding or Climb Credit.
- Scholarships: Military and ex-military can access bootcamp scholarships designed specifically for service people. Claim Academy and Coding Dojo offer such scholarships.
- Job Guarantees: Certain bootcamps provide job guarantees. This guarantee usually comes in the form of a full tuition refund if the student fails to get a job after the program. However, there are other types of coding bootcamp job guarantees, such as actual promises of employment with partners of the bootcamp.
- Deferred tuition and ISAs: A deferred tuition plan allows the student to attend their program and only begin payments at a later stage, usually after graduation. Income share agreements (ISAs) are similar. The main difference is that under ISAs students repay the school a percentage of their monthly income when they graduate and land a job. Under regular deferred tuition, on the other hand, students pay back a fixed amount each month.
Top Bootcamps That Accept the GI Bill
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:
|GI Bill Coding Bootcamps
Cincy Code IT
Deep Dive Coding
Eleven Fifty Academy
PDX Code Guild
The Software Guild
We Can Code IT
Zip Code Wilmington
VET TEC-Approved Coding Bootcamps
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. Here is a list of coding bootcamps considered VET TEC training providers:
|VET TEC Training Providers
|Carolina Code School
Evolve Security Academy
Prime Digital Academy
We Can Code IT
Zip Code Wilmington
Coding Bootcamp Scholarships for Veterans
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:
|Military Retraining Scholarship
|Diversity Scholarship Fund
|50-75% of tuition
|Veteran and spouse scholarships
|up to $15,500
|Military Tuition Discount
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.
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.