DECEMBER 13, 2016, ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) – Military experience is an outstanding resume-builder, but employers are always on the lookout for that extra edge, something that can be backed up with certificates and credentials.
Sailors and Marines interested in achieving this extra leg-up can do so by completing a civilian apprenticeship through the United Service Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP).
USMAP works with the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) to provide nationally-recognized apprenticeship programs which result in journeyman-level certificates of completion for members of the sea services. During their apprenticeship, military members further their professional development through documented work experiences while performing their regular military duties.
“USMAP combines a service member’s formal classroom training and on-the-job training (OJT) in order to certify them as a journeyman in their specialty,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Blake Whittaker, the USMAP coordinator aboard aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). “With this certificate, a service member is telling a potential employer that they are proficient and highly experienced in a specialty, which helps when it comes to your salary.”
Whittaker said 87 percent of USMAP-certified employees have a starting salary of above $50,000.
USMAP is a registered apprenticeship program which provides formalized and structured training. Participants are required to regularly document their hours worked in various skill areas, either in a hard-copy log or through the Internet, and have the log verified by their supervisor. Service members submit a report every six months, and a final report once all OJT is complete.
“The hours to obtain a certificate range from 2,000 to 8,000 hours, depending on the specialty,” said Whittaker. “With 52 weeks in a year and 40 hours a week, you can potentially document 2,080 hours a year; and if you are deployed you can document as many as 12 hours a day, seven days a week.”
With USMAP service members also have the opportunity to earn more than just one journeyman-level certificate. Petty Officer 2nd Class Travon Cuffee is currently working on his second certificate.
“I completed my first USMAP certificate, for computer operating, in 2014,” said Cuffee. “Currently, I am working on my second certificate, for office manager and administrative service, and expect to be finished with it next spring.”
Receiving these certificates from USMAP helps translate the work you do in the military into something civilian employers can better understand.
“I started using USMAP to increase my job skills after learning about the certificates they offer on the Navy College website,” said Cuffee. “Through USMAP I will receive proof of national recognition in the form of an official Department of Labor certificate of completion of apprenticeship, and this will show employers documented work experience using sought-after skills in the workforce.”
If you have been in the service for a while and are kicking yourself for not starting this process earlier, don’t worry. USMAP will reward you with pre-registration credits.
“Pre-registration credits are awarded for past work experience; for every year a service member has served, outside of a formal training environment, they will receive 1,000 hours of credit,” said Whittaker. “However, pre-registration credits cannot exceed 50 percent of the total number of hours required to become certified.”
Since 1976, USMAP has awarded more than 40,000 certificates. From 2008 to 2013, USMAP has seen a 57% increase in the number of personnel working on an apprenticeship, and has registered more than 100 occupations with the Office of Apprenticeship in the DoL. Currently, about one in four enlisted Sailors participates in USMAP.
“As of October 12, there are 775 Sailors aboard the GW who are enrolled in USMAP, and 299 Sailors have received at least one certification,” said Whittaker.
Any active-duty Sailor can become an apprentice as long as they have been designated in a rating, have sufficient time to complete the program while on active duty, and possess a high school diploma or GED.
“If you aren’t taking advantage of USMAP, then my advice to you is to enroll,” said Whittaker. “All you are going to do is document the work that you are already performing. There is no cost, no off-duty hours required, and it could help you find employment after serving our great nation.”
By Petty Officer 3rd Class Wyatt L. Anthony, USS George Washington (CVN 73) Public Affairs