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Will the GI Bill Pay for IT Certifications and Training in Maryland?

June 4, 2014

Guest Author

The GI Bill covers the cost of specific certification tests, but not the training involved leading up to the test in Maryland.

Can you use the GI Bill at our training center? No, but if IT training and certifications improve resumes and increase the chances of attaining employment, then why not give veterans this advantage?

I am not drawing the conclusion that the state relax its interpretation of how the Bill should apply completely, but revisit this issue. As industries develop and the job market changes, it’s time to reconsider the interpretation of educational benefits. The state owes this to its veterans.

Where can you use the GI Bill?

For those of you who stumbled upon this post, you probably already know about the GI Bill. For that reason, let’s skip the simple explanation and move onto where you can use it. The State Approving Agency (SAA) regulates the GI Bill for each individual state. It determines which educational institutions qualify for its use. Depending on what state you live in, your options vary. The quickest way to see the options, is to visit the Veteran’s Affairs search by state page.

In Maryland, the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) acts as the SAA. According to MHEC, only educational institutions approved as “Higher Education” receive approval for GI Bill financial assistance. You can see the full list of approved postsecondary institutions in Maryland. Colleges and Universities started to develop and add more computer science and IT related degrees to their programs. You may receive financial assistance for earning a related IT degree, Bachelor’s or graduate level, and then have the GI Bill pay for the cost of the certification tests you believe are necessary. Remember, the GI Bill covers the cost of certain certification tests, not all. You can search for the approved certification tests with the “Weams Licenses/Certifications Search“.

Thankfully the GI Bill at least reimburses the cost of certification tests. But the benefits should apply to the educational part, the training, and not the actual tests. Training is more expensive than the actual certification tests.

As demand for IT pros increases, can Maryland keep up?

Not including IT training for the GI Bill in Maryland is an issue that the governor should address, especially as Maryland looks to crown itself one of the leaders of cyber security in the nation.

For IT professionals, a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree may not provide the best route to a successful career. The IT industry contains a vast array of individuals with diverse backgrounds and education. We recognize that the skills attained for success in this industry are not exactly available in the traditional college setting.

Secondly, whether you’re a proponent of IT certifications or not, certifications verify knowledge and skills at the top of an individual’s resume. Certifications increase the likelihood of making your resume stand out, especially in a highly competitive job market containing talent. The demand for cyber security talent outweighs the supply as recent reports and articles indicate. To bridge this supply and demand gap, why would you create more obstacles to attaining certifications, specifically security related certs? Maryland, do not choke the supply chain, but let it breathe.

When the federal and state governments require employees to have certain certifications and go through training, then what’s the point of excluding IT training as a possibility for the GI Bill?

Are training costs the responsibility of employers or the GI Bill?

It’s another story altogether if Maryland thinks employers should bear the responsibility of paying for IT training or certification preparation. Then that prompts the question of what about the employers who will not pay for training? What about the veterans who need certifications to get their career going, but they have limited funds to pay for it? The small investment spent on training goes a long way in getting a person into the door of a new job and career.

As the state looks to attract promising cyber security related companies to the area, offer tax credits for businesses, and foster business development for IT security overall, we cannot overlook the prevalence of educational benefits pertaining to the GI Bill for veterans.

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