How to Get Certifications Now That Translate Military Experience



Whether you are staying in the military or getting out, there are DOD baseline certifications that can translate military experience to a civilian resume. The certifications and credentials that really count depend on where you are coming from and where you plan to head. In many situations there are COOL programs based on the branch of military you are serving that can offer certification or credentialing assistance.

Valuable Certifications That Count

The demand for cybersecurity certifications to work on a DoD information system in the government sector is not just recommended, in many situations it's required. DOD cybersecurity training boosts your ability to outperform hackers relies not only on your experience but continued knowledge of the latest technologies. That is why the government relies on the high standards set by many certifying agencies including CompTIA, Cisco, and EC-Council among others.


DOD Directive 8570, 8140, or SECNAV-M 5239 required certifications ensure that those performing information assurance (security) measures have the necessary skills and knowledge to protect important information. New hires must obtain appropriate baseline certifications within six months of being assigned to information assurance functions. The DOD Directive 8570 Certification Requirements Table categorizes all the certifications by IAT level. Most of the certifications fall under the following accrediting agencies:

  • Cisco
  • CompTIA
  • EC-Council
  • (ISC)2
  • CertNexus

Careers After the Military

As an IT professional, DOD cybersecurity certifications earned while enlisted also provide you the tools you need to advance your IT career path when entering the civilian workforce.


There is an imbalance between supply and demand in the cyber market creating high demand for cybersecurity professionals. With a large part of every person's life moving to the digital space, it's not surprising that cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing industries right now. In fact, it's growing so quickly that companies can't fill all of their cybersecurity positions fast enough.

Cybersecurity Ventures has reported that "there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions by 2021." The boom in this job market has been steadily growing too. The demand for this field has grown 3.5 times faster than the rest of the IT field, and about 12 times faster than the demand for all other positions. Five of the top 21 pandemic proof career certifications are for cybersecurity expertise, paying an average salary of $76,626 (, Feb 2021).

Here are the top 10 DOD baseline certifications required by directive 8570 that translate military experience to a civilian resume

  1. CompTIA Security+ - $75,820 (, Feb 2021)
  2. CCNA Security - Cisco Certified Network Associate - $83,590 (, Feb 2021)
  3. PenTest+ - Penetration Tester - $85,631 (, Feb 2021)
  4. CASP+ - CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner - $89,660 (, Feb 2021)
  5. CEH - Certified Ethical Hacker - $92,969 (, Feb 2021)
  6. CHFI - Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator - $93,449 (, Feb 2021)
  7. CISSP - Certified Information Systems Security Professional - $114,824 (, Feb 2021)
  8. CRISC - Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control - $123,184 (, Feb 2021)
  9. CISM - Certified Information Security Manager - $127,595 (, Feb 2021)
  10. CCISO - Certified Chief Information Security Officer - $165,144 (, Feb 2021)

Many positions in the military today are a fertile training ground for a potentially lucrative cybersecurity career. A veteran may walk into a cybersecurity job groomed for the role, trained to not just follow follow protocol but also understand why it’s essential. And just as military minds perpetually analyze the security of their position and act accordingly, the best cybersecurity techs get out ahead of security issues before breaches take place. Read how to turn your defense expertise into a cybersecurity career.


Military servicemembers actively looking to add a professional certification to their resume should focus on those that correlate to in-demand and pandemic proof careers. When resources and headcount are scarce, certifications help equip your existing people with the right knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) to overcome obstacles and seize opportunities. A workforce with the right KSAs is the difference between winning and losing.

Areas that are growing in addition to cybersecurity are virtualization and project management. Virtualization and cloud computing certifications pay an average salary of $77,860 (, Feb 2021). Salaries for Project Management Professional (PMP®) certifications have risen to $107,353 (, Feb 2021). Here are a list of the top in-demand professional certifications for 2021.

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL4)
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional
  • Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)
  • Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
  • Oracle Certified MySQL Database Administrator (CMDBA)
  • Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer (CDPSE)
  • Certified Data Professional (CDP)
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • Certified Information Security manager (CISM)
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
  • Cisco Certified Professional Network Professional (CCNP)

COOL Programs Help Pay for Certifications

COOL programs such as AF COOL, Army COOL, & Navy COOL provide credentialing assistance to servicemembers looking to achieve certifications or credentialing.

Credentialing has two purposes. First, it continues to professionalize the enlisted force by providing up-to-date industry-recognized credentials in a servicemember's job. Second, it provides a way to prepare for civilian life by ensuring that you are ready for work in the civilian sector. There are many aspects to credentialing including certifications and licenses.

Soldiers can use the Army COOL MOS Related Certifications lookup to find certifications that closely align with their current MOS occupation.

Military & DOD Certification Training

NHDoD can help you achieve your certification training goals in the military or upon departure. DOD Bootcamp Training is a great way to train in a group setting with other members of the military. DoD training bootcamp students are also given New Horizons Test Pass Assurance.

Our solutions include:

  • Baseline certification training for those who perform Information Assurance functions
  • Continuous education to maintain certifications and further develop skills
  • Certification training for specific operating systems


Feb 2021

By: William Jordan