Preparing for a post-Air Force career with certifications, licenses

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Erik R. Robbins
  • Edwards AFB Career Assistance Advisor
Active duty service members have a shelf-life when it comes to their careers. The shelf-life time is different for every individual; it could be the length of a single four-year enlistment or a distinguished 30-year career. That is why looking at life after the military when it comes to your career is so important.

The Air Force is leading the Department of Defense in the area of education and it being the only service component to offer a regionally accredited associate degree. The education programs in the Air Force have given Airman the ability to come in right out of high school and leave with various levels of college degrees. Combining higher education with job experience is a winning combination to be very marketable when reentering the civilian work force.
Recently, the Air Force developed a new certification program to further enhance an individual's qualifications for that next career. The Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-line (COOL) program is a program that allows Airmen to get a civilian certification that aligns with their military career. This is a unique program where civilian certifications have been identified by career field functional leadership, which align or complement each unique Air Force specialty. Certifications can help individuals qualify for specific jobs or higher earning careers while at the same time making them more competitive in the civilian job market.
There are two basic types of credentials, the first is Licensure, which is a program to grant a license that may be required for certain types of jobs with a mandatory requirement due to federal or state law. The second type is Certification, which is usually associated with non-government agencies, private sector companies and other associations. Some employers require certain certifications to hold different positions within the company or organization.

The AF COOL program allocates a lifetime cap of $4,500 in additional funding outside of standard military tuition assistance, but can only be used to pay for exams, not courses. Application and administrative fees are allowed; re-certifications are paid until the $4500 cap is reached.

The COOL program is also only authorized to pay for one credential with the exception of an additional leadership credential for senior NCOs E-7 to E-9.

The COOL program can be accessed through the virtual education website found at:

Within the site personnel will find easy navigation tools to look at certificates that align with each career specialty. The site also provides specific information about the requirements and how to apply for the certifications.

For questions about the program not answered by the site, contact the Edwards Education Center at 661-277-6105 and 277-2050.

Remember the Air Force COOL program is another benefit to maximize you marketability and earning potential when you transition into that next career.