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Studies have shown that there are occupational credentials related to most military occupational specialties. These credentials may be directly related to the military occupation (i.e., related to most – approximately 80 percent – of the military duties) or related to a set of embedded skills attained by performing in the military specialty (i.e., related to some of the critical duties performed).

The Department of Defense recognizes that providing civilian credentialing opportunities to Service members is an important means of professionalizing the Force. Providing these opportunities also serves to enhance recruitment and retention and it helps transitioning Service members make a more seamless transition to the civilian workforce.

  • Professionalization of the Force – Service members who prepare for and attain civilian credentials often add to their valuable skills and are therefore better prepared to perform their military duties
  • Recruitment – individuals considering joining the military may be more motivated to join if they know they can earn the same occupational credentials available to their civilian counterparts
  • Retention – some Service members may elect to stay in the Service longer to meet credential requirements
  • Transition – occupational certifications and/or licenses may be required by law or by civilian employers to hold certain civilian jobs. Moreover, Service members who have civilian credentials are better able to translate the relevancy of their military training and experience to civilian employers.
The Services’ Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL) programs are designed to promote attainment of civilian credentials for military personnel. These programs are in keeping with the requirements of P.L. 113-66, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, Sec 542, “Enhancement of mechanisms to correlate skills and training for military occupational specialties with skills and training required for civilian certifications and licenses.”

This legislation requires the Secretaries of the military departments, in coordination with the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, to the maximum extent practicable, make information on civilian credentialing opportunities available to members of the Armed Forces at every stage of their military career life cycle. Information linking hundreds of military occupations to civilian credentials is made available on the Services’ COOL websites:


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