By Maj. Jamie Schwandt, USAR
There are specific certifications you can earn while in the military to immediately improve your chances with getting hired in the private sector. Two will guarantee you a foot in the door in any organization (government, private sector, or academia): Lean Six Sigma and cybersecurity certification.
Earning either or both - at no cost while in uniform - offers you the ability to speak the same language as leaders in the private sector. At the same time, you will be learning skills highly sought after - in many career fields - that represent the future of both warfare and the workforce.
Similar to viewing a movie in high-definition, Lean Six Sigma is a problem-solving methodology allowing you to see a problem in high-definition. Understanding how to use Lean Six Sigma can be valuable in almost any career field.
Former General Electric Chairman and CEO Jack Welch used Lean Six Sigma when he transformed his company. Today, companies like Toyota, Amazon, and Tesla use Lean Six Sigma as well as similar process-improvement approaches. A quick search on Indeed.com shows nearly 12,000 Lean Six Sigma-related jobs with organizations such as Amazon, GE, and Lockheed Martin.
A good friend of mine was immediately hired by Tesla after he completed his Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification, which he gained through the Army. Monster.com and LinkedIn list it as one of the best certifications to boost your salary in 2018.
Moreover, the Army has a fantastic Lean Six Sigma program operated by the Office of Business Transformation. Active duty soldiers, Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers, Army civilians, and members of other services are eligible to train and certify through this program at no cost. The Army certifies Lean Six Sigma Green, Black, and even Master Black Belts (for which I recently earned a certification).
The reserve components offer unique opportunities through private-public partnership - or P3 - programs. A great example is the Cyber P3 partnership.
I recently spoke with Morgan Zantua, director of workforce development for the University of Washington Cyber P3 program. She highlighted specific cybersecurity scholarships available for members of the reserve components. They receive scholarships covering full tuition, books, fees, and a computer. The program offers a master's degree in cybersecurity engineering and infrastructure planning and management, as well as a cybersecurity certificate.
If you are still serving, take advantage of these certifications. I know soldiers and civilians in the military who've done it and experienced phenomenal success. At times, these certifications are more valued than degrees. Some of my soldiers were even hired as Lean Six Sigma Black Belts without a college degree.
Maj. Jamie Schwandt, USAR, is an author, logistics officer, and student at the Command General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.