Woman completes paperwork.

Credentialing Your Military Experience

You're looking to join the civilian world and that means job-hunting. Here's the good news: As a service member, you're part of one of the best-trained workforces in the world.

You have skills that employers value: discipline, work ethic and teamwork. Your military experience also has given you training that you can put to work in the civilian world. But sometimes, it can be a challenge to explain military training in terms civilian employers can understand.

That's where "Credentialing Opportunities On-Line," or COOL, comes in.

The COOL program helps you translate your training into civilian credentials and speak better to what employers are looking for. Every service branch offers its own program (see links below). Use your branch's program to:

  • Get information on credentials related to your service specialty.
  • Identify gaps in your training and credential requirements.
  • Find resources to help you close the gap between training and credentials.

COOL programs primarily serve active-duty service members — to help you plan for employment. You can use it to figure out what training or skills you might need before you transition.

How to decide if you need a credential

Here are five employment scenarios — does one of them apply to you and your chosen career path?

Employment Scenario

What Should You Do?

1. The civilian equivalent of your specialty doesn't require a license or certification.

You don't need to pursue a credential, but having one may give you an advantage. It's worth checking into.

2. Your military training and experience already provides the necessary credentials to practice the civilian job. (For example, let's say you earned your Emergency Medical Technician certification to become a health care specialist.)

You should be good to go. But there may be additional credentials that give you more of an advantage.

3. Your training and experience provide certification in the field, but not a license.

Your move to the civilian workforce may be relatively seamless. The requirements for a certificate and a license are often similar. However, you may need to obtain a license from the appropriate government agency.

4. You have the education, training, or experience necessary to become licensed or certified. But you don't have the formal license or certification from the credentialing board.

You may have to follow an administrative process that typically requires completing an application, documenting military training and experience, and possibly taking an exam.

5. You may need more education, training, or experience to be certified or licensed.

It may be more difficult to be employed or fully employed without the right credentials. In this case, you can find out more about available resources, costs and funding to meet the requirements.

Are there costs for credentialing?

Sometimes there are costs involved if you need extra training or have to take an exam. Many credentials and licenses have fees involved, such as licensing fees or exam fees, but there are resources available to help cover some of the costs, such as the GI Bill.®

Check your service branch's program for costs and to learn about available resources.

Credentialing Opportunities On-Line by service branch

If you're ready to start looking for a job, it's time to translate your work experience into a civilian career. Identify what credentials you need as soon as possible. Getting a credential may take some time, and ideally, you want it in hand by the time you leave the service.