Manufacturing jobs for military vets?

Manufacturing jobs for military vets?

Welcome to “Ask Deb from QA,” an advice column from MxD.

Deb from QA — with decades of experience on the factory floor — will answer your questions to demystify and explain the digital manufacturing industry.

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Are there resources for military veterans like me looking for a manufacturing job?

First, thank you for your service. And second, absolutely. Here’s a roundup of resources for veterans — and for those still enlisted but getting ready to retire the camo and return to civilian life.

1. The Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America – Working with technical colleges, this program aims to get you the certificates and training needed for a manufacturing career. Heroes offers remote training and started Heroes Connect, a pipeline connecting vets with manufacturers that are hiring (and that’s pretty much everyone!). Heroes MAKE America is open to veterans, their spouses and, through the Department of Defense SkillBridge program, members of the military counting down their final 180 days of service.

2. DOD SkillBridge – With SkillBridge, you can actually spend the last six months of your service training with an employer (including plenty of manufacturers) while still collecting your military pay and benefits. And a lot of employers, like Boeing, create custom SkillBridge programs.

3. Company programs – Boeing isn’t the only company putting out the red carpet for veterans. Others with SkillBridge-linked programs include AT&T, John Deere and Lockheed Martin. Over at the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA), transitioning service members and veterans can get 17 weeks of remote IT training, plus help finding a job after. MSSA is free, so you can stash that GI Bill money for a rainy day. And don’t miss what Dow, EY, Intel, McKinsey & Co. and Siemens offer.

4. Cybersecurity programs – Did you do any cybersecurity work while enlisted? If so, cha-ching! Pros in that field report an average salary of $116,000. That’s according to the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS), which helps vets break into the cybersecurity industry. NICCS can point you to some handy downloadable tools like the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity Training and Education for Veterans,” which has info on free online training, degree programs and scholarships. The DOD is also putting its cash into resources like the Cybersecurity for Manufacturing Operational Technology, or CyMOT, program that my friends at MxD created with the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. It offers folks with some manufacturing experience certification in Manufacturing Cyber Systems Operation and is linked to the jobs MxD outlined in its Hiring Guide: Cybersecurity in Manufacturing, an eye-popping list of jobs out there now and coming soon. 

Look, many of the nearly 200,000 men and women who leave military service every year have a skill set that’s a natural fit for a manufacturing job. But that transition to the factory floor can be challenging, so vets I work with gave me some tips to smooth that path:

  • Plan ahead: Having your civilian game plan ready early gives you time to meet enrollment deadlines. And COVID-19 isn’t good for much, but all that remote schooling we have because of it gives you so many options. You can study wherever you are — even those of you shivering up there near the North Pole at Thule Air Base. 
  • Do your homework: If you want to use your GI Bill to pay for training, there may be restrictions. So watch out for those hurdles. Plus, thanks to your military training, you may be the best welder in the world. But civilian employers want you to have a certificate proving it. Each military branch has its own Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL) site that can help you figure out how your military skills translate to the civilian world.
  • Ask for help: Even Deb doesn’t have all the answers! Ask questions and dig for every opportunity. You don’t want to miss landing your dream job in manufacturing. 

Check out the last Ask Deb here:
Deb: I’m a woman in manufacturing, how do I move up?

Deb from QA wants to hear your questions. Send ’em to and she’ll answer as soon as she’s done with her dinner.