When I left the US Army after four years of service I was a bit lost: where was I supposed to go from there? I decided to use my GI Bill to go to Michigan State University and develop my trade as a writer, which I'm glad I did.
If you're getting ready to ETS or are a current veteran you might be lost like I was. You've just spent years in a system that tells you everything you need to do, but the civilian world isn't like that. Now you're out and you need to find a job on your own.
SEE: 10 things you need to know about coding camps (TechRepublic)
Software development: it's what's hot
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the market for programmers and other tech professionals will experience 17% growth between now and 2024, which is much higher than average. That makes coding of any kind an attractive work prospect.
Veterans leaving the military don't always have the luxury of going to school for four years to get a computer science degree. Luckily there are a lot of options out there that can get you coding in just a few months, and several of them are catering to veterans. Software engineering pays well, there are plenty of jobs available, and you can be up and running in far less time (and money) than it takes for a bachelor's degree.
Interested? Here are three programs that are tailored just for vets like you.
Udacity and Accenture partnership
Udacity offers a variety of tech and non-tech nanodegree programs, and it's partnered with Accenture to give participants a path that ends in a job interview once the nanodegree is complete. The position you're training for is an Entry Level Software Engineering Associate—a great place to start a new career.
Keep in mind that program completion and an interview don't guarantee a job. I reached out to Udacity to get more info on the program, especially what happens for veterans who aren't hired, but I haven't heard back.
Code Platoon is a new organization that just graduated its first cohort of nine people, successfully placing seven of them into full-time paid internships. The program aims to turn those internships into permanent positions, but since there has only been one graduating class so far (at the end of May), there still aren't good statistics available.
The 20-week program is a crash course in Ruby full-stack, and it's not cheap—tuition is $13,000. Thankfully Code Platoon works hard to get scholarships for students: the first cohort all had funding for nearly the entire cost of the program.
If you're interested in getting involved in one of Code Platoon's upcoming cohorts you can apply and get more info on its website.
As opposed to the face-to-face program of Code Platoon, Operation Code is all about making resources available to veterans wherever and whenever they want them.
SEE: How to get the most out of your coding camp experience (TechRepublic)
Operation Code isn't a coding academy: it's a place to find mentorship, access to scholarships for different coding programs, and help finding employment as a software engineer once you finish training.
There are some great resources available on Operation Code's website. If you're looking for resources and help I'd definitely recommend checking it out. You may be able to find a mentor or get a scholarship to a program that's right in your backyard.
These aren't it
I've whittled this article down to three of the most promising opportunities, but these three are hardly all there is out there for veterans who want to code. As with any program that sounds like a great deal you need to be skeptical. Too many veterans have had their GI Bill wasted by for-profit schools that don't want to do anything but take advantage of people.
If you're considering going to a coding bootcamp or enrolling in a program be sure to do your research first. The last thing you need after those tough years of serving in the military is to have your benefits ruined. Keep a sharp eye out and be skeptical, especially if they come to you.
Brandon Vigliarolo has nothing to disclose. He does not hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.