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Here’s how to turn your MOS into a civilian health care career

Stacy Walts | Military Times

Here’s the truth: Your military medical occupation training provided you with top-notch education and experience that most civilian programs cannot. You’ve not only received traditional instructional training, but you’ve learned and practiced in some of the best medical labs with the latest simulation technology available. Most importantly, your training gave you real-world, high-pressure experience that cannot be duplicated in traditional civilian training programs.

The problem: Most health care employers do not know what 68W, 4N0X1, HM or other military occupational codes mean in terms of job translation. Additionally, many active duty and transitioning service members are not exactly sure what career path options exist for them.

The good news: If you want to work in health care after your military career, there is a way you can translate your experience into something that is well-known and allows employers to immediately understand your qualifications. Credentialing is a universal indicator of experience that provides a standardized mark to solidify recognition of your competency and knowledge.

More good news: Each branch of the military has funding programs available to help members find information and resources to obtain credentials related to an MOS. In most cases, the cost for preparatory resources and exams are covered entirely by the Credentialing Opportunities Online (COOL) for each service branch or by the GI Bill funding resources.

Health care credentials you can earn today

Your military training and service could make you eligible for one or more of eight allied health certification exams offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). The credentials you earn by taking and passing these exams can lead to careers in a number of professions, such as medical assistant, EKG technician, billing and coding specialist, electronic health record specialist, pharmacy technician and more.

In addition to opening a path to employment in the civilian sector, earning a certification can lead to a higher salary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks earnings of those with certifications and indicates those who hold a certification can earn up to a 46% higher weekly salary. Employers truly want to hire veterans, and by lining up your credentials, you give yourself a path forward, while your experience also elevates you as a top candidate.

Carl Vickers, Air Force Veteran and Military Relations Manager for PeopleScout, believes that employers see veterans as ideal candidates when their experience is backed by credentials: “A talent acquisition professional’s dream is to have a pool of military veterans that hold the combination of education, training, and aligned credentials. When applying in the workforce, it is a recipe that makes candidates the most desirable and competitive in the employment market.”

Turning extensive training into stacked credentials

Many of the medical training programs offered through the U.S. Military qualify service members to earn more than one credential, which can help employers better understand the breadth of your training, as well as your skill level.

NHA’s certifications were designed to work together. For example, if you wanted to work toward a career as a medical assistant, you may consider stacking these credentials together:

  • Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)
  • Certified EKG Technician (CET)
  • Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT)

If you want to work toward a career as a medical administrator, you might find value in stacking the following credentials:

  • Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS)
  • Certified Electronic Health Record Specialist (CEHRS)
  • Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)

Not only do stacked credentials help distinguish you from other job applicants, they can also lead to an increase in pay and faster advancement.

To help employers better understanding your military training and experience, adding credentials behind your name can help translate and show that you’re well-equipped to take on a civilian health care role after completing your military service.

Editor’s note: The following commentary was contributed by Stacy Walts, Director for National Partnerships & Military Liaison for the National Healthcareer Association. The content may be edited for clarity, style and length.

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