By: Arnold James
Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine military service branches launched Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL), an initiative which assists service members to transition and be more competitive in the civilian workforce. Initiated by the Army in 2002, the COOL program provides a pathway for enlisted personnel to earn industry-recognized professional certifications and licenses for their military active-duty jobs. Applicant screening by employers for career opportunities are increasingly competitive with many jobs requiring experience or additional skills.
The Department of Defense quickly realized the fiscal potential of the COOL program for future savings from increased unemployment payments to separated military service members. The initiative capitalizes on its potential for increased efficiency and effectiveness of education and training through the joint collaboration of all military branches. Following the Navy COOL program in 2006, the Air Force and Marines completed the collaborative effort with the launch of its COOL programs in 2014. According to the Air Force Virtual Education Center and the Community College of the Air Force, the AF COOL program has a credential mapping of 642 professional certifications and licenses for 190 enlisted Air Force specialty codes at the national and state levels and from industry.
The COOL program has a dual purpose of: 1) professionalizing the enlisted force with up-to-date industry-recognized credentials including certifications and licenses, and 2) preparing servicemen for civilian life by ensuring they are prepared to work in the civilian sector. Various agencies at the industry, national and state levels provide essential credentialing authority. Military personnel benefit from the COOL program with the ability to demonstrate their industry skills on same level of civilian personnel as well as improved pay and promotions.
Education Service Offices continue to recommend and encourage military personnel to pursue and complete a post-secondary degree. The COOL program provides an additional incentive with two types of credentials:
- Licensure (federal, state or local governmental agencies): Mandatory licenses needed to practice a specific occupation, such as a medical license for doctors. State and federal laws or regulations typically define standards and requirements.
- Certification (non-governmental agencies, associations, and private sector companies): Certifications to individuals who meet predetermined qualifications generally set by professional associations (i.e. National Commission for Certification of Crane Operators).
Arnold James is the Assistant Director for ERAU Worldwide Career Services serving over 15,000 enrolled students. He is a 20-year U.S. Army veteran and recruiter with a passion for providing a quality student services experience for non-traditional students in higher education. Arnold has been an employee with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide since 2013 working in Admissions and Student Affairs. He studied Political Science at Francis Marion University in Florence, S.C. before completing his Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Master of Management with a specialization in Human Resources Management with the University of Phoenix.