While 2020 was a lost year for many Americans, it doesn’t have to affect separating military members in 2021. Some veterans programs reorganized their work to fit coronavirus restrictions; others shut down entirely. But the most effective programs continued their training cycles.

In 2020, we highlighted dozens of organizations that want to train, hire or give veterans a leg up in the job market. These are just the best of the best and are in no particular order, because every veteran has different needs and goals.

Anyone leaving the military in 2021 (and beyond) who doesn’t know where to begin should definitely start here.

1. Federal Agencies

It should be no surprise that the world’s largest employer, the U.S. government, has job openings for veterans. What might be a surprise is just how many agencies want to train them first and even have a pipeline from the military to civilian service.

Read: Wounded Warriors Find New Purpose in the Fight Against Child Porn

Whether you’re looking to fight wildfires, become a diplomat at the State Department, bust punks in America’s national parks or be on the front lines of the U.S. homeland security apparatus, there’s a program for you. And although there is no pipeline, veterans preference will still give you an edge when applying to the FBI or even the CIA.

There are also opportunities for wannabe truck drivers through the Department of Transportation, paid internships for would-be park rangers and more.

2. BAE Systems’ Warrior Integration Program (WIP)

For anyone who’s ever wanted to work for an American defense contractor but didn’t know how to get their foot in the door, this is the jobs program for you. BAE wants veterans to apply before they even leave the military (separated veterans are still welcome) so they can start job training right away.

The program offers on-the-job training at a real BAE location, along with mentorship, guidance through the transitioning process and (of course) a paycheck for three years while learning the job. When your time in the WIP is up, you will be a full BAE Systems employee, just like your coworkers.

Read: This Company Is Now Giving a Total Transition and Jobs Program to Separating Military Members

BAE Systems currently has Warrior Integration Program openings in New Hampshire, Alabama and Texas, but even if you don’t live there, you can still apply.

3. Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS)

Dr. Arthur Langer is a Columbia University professor who runs the nonprofit Workforce Opportunity Services. The company brings together major employers such as Prudential, General Electric and HBO, companies that need to fill critical roles. WOS then trains military veterans to fill those positions. From mechanics to Java developers, WOS has a 90% retention rate in U.S. companies.

Read: This Nonprofit Created a Pipeline System for Training and Placing Veterans in Jobs

Any business in America is welcome to come to WOS to fill its vacancies, and any veteran in America is welcome to come find job training and a place to work.

4. Microsoft

Any veteran who’s eager to join the best technical industry in the world but doesn’t know how to guarantee themselves a job should look no further than Microsoft. The tech giant looks to skilled, mature veterans to fill out its critical vacancies through the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA).

Read: Why Corporate Skills Training May Be More Valuable Than a Degree for Veterans

It’s an 18-week “reskilling” program that teaches advanced technical functions in high demand right now. At the end of the program, students will have the chance to interview with Microsoft or other tech giants in need of those valuable skills. Graduates of the program have an 80% retention rate, even without a traditional four-year degree — that’s the benefit of reskilling.

5. Army Career Skills Program (CSP)

Soldiers interested in finding a new career after the Army can look into the Career Skills Program as a means of getting that guaranteed job after leaving the military — and learn their new career while still getting that military paycheck.

Read: This Army Job Training Program Has a 93% Success Rate

Why would the Army pay soldiers to learn to leave? Because the 210 different programs offered by the Army CSP are all critical job functions the service can’t live without, but also can’t seem to find the people to do the job. Who better to work for Big Army than its former soldiers? It’s like living the Army life without the looming threat from the Green Weenie. Soldiers can choose from a slew of jobs, from auto repair to solar energy.

6. Workshops for Warriors

Hernán Luis y Prado of San Diego is a Navy veteran and the founder of Workshop for Warriors. He noticed a distinct lack of skilled trades in the American workforce, a lack he believes could cripple the American economy when the older generation of skilled tradesmen retires. So he started a nonprofit training organization designed to put veterans in those trades.

Read: ‘Workshops for Warriors’ Is Intense, Effective Training for Skilled Manufacturing Jobs

Unlike some of other programs, Workshops for Warriors requires a fee (learning or teaching a skilled trade isn’t cheap), but is covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The program has a 95% success rate in training and job placement, perfect for any veteran who wants to work with their hands.

7. Carrus

For both military members and spouses interested in health care jobs, Carrus is the place to start. CEO Misty Frost loves the mature soft skills that veterans bring to the industry when starting civilian careers, and that all the hard skills of the health care industry can be taught. So that’s what Carrus is doing.

Read: The Health Care Industry Is Looking for Vets. Here’s How to Get Free Training.

A grant from the Army Credentialing Assistance Program (ACA) allowed Carrus to expand its no-cost, short-term training program for military members and spouses. Anyone interested in free training for a new career in the health care industry should visit CareerStep.com’s Military Page to sign up for more information in the “request info” area of the page.

8. The Solar Ready Vets Network

Green energy will be the backbone of the 21st century economy, experts say, and the evidence is all around us. With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, the Solar Ready Vets Network offers a 12-week, on-the-job training fellowship for military members, which leads directly to certification and job placement in high-demand areas.

Read: This New Career Field Is So Hot to Hire Vets, They’ll Help You Get Started

For veterans, the program offers the Solar Opportunities And Readiness (SOAR) Initiative, which is a very similar program that offers credentialing at the end of the training. Just go to the Solar Ready Vets page and fill out the form to get started.

9. Starting Your Own Business

It’s never been easier for veterans with that great idea to start their own business and, for many separating veterans, it could be a good way forward until the job market recovers. The good news is that everyone wants to help veterans start businesses.

Read: A Vet-Owned Marketing Firm Wants to Help Veteran Businesses at No Upfront Cost

Major partners like Amazon want to help vets start delivery businesses. The Small Business Administration wants to train veterans to run their business, and even other vets want to help get businesses off on the right foot. You just need to find the next great idea.

— Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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