IT professional working with student at computer

Jobs for Military Veterans without Degrees: Why the IT Help Desk Is a Great Fit

By R.C. Dirkes

When their time of service in the military is over, veterans face the question of what to do next. Especially if they haven’t been to college, they can have a lot of questions about where the best opportunities are.

The technology sector can be a great place to consider for jobs for military veterans without degrees. They can take a technology career “anywhere” starting from an IT help desk, says CompTIA Tech Career Academy instructor Stephen Padilla during a recent episode of Creating IT Futures’ podcast.

Why? Because “Every military member is a problem-solver,” Padilla, who served for more than two decades in the U.S. Air Force, tells Technologist Talk host R.C. “Bob” Dirkes.

“The general military veteran characteristics make people perfectly suited for an IT career even starting [from] an entry-level point in a help desk,” Padilla elaborates. “Self-discipline, orderliness, the ability to fill out paperwork, even if you hate the paperwork. All of these things contribute to a tech career because veterans have self-motivation.”

“We're organized… We are punctual,” he continues, adding a joke from his Air Force days. “We follow a code: ‘If you're early, you're on time. If you're on time, you're late. And if you're late, you better bring doughnuts.’"


The pandemic’s impact on business and the workforce improves IT job prospects for veterans

Padilla, an IT-Ready Technical Support instructor who holds seven CompTIA certifications and several other technical credentials, says the resilience one develops in response to the challenging working lifestyle of a military career presents tremendous value to employers seeking tech workers – especially as the pandemic continues to generate economic disruption for businesses and upheaval for the nation’s workforce.

“The job market's depressed because of the lockdowns,” Padilla explains. “It's affected the economy. People who did manage to keep their jobs are working from home. And what are they using? Online platforms. …That's IT, isn't it?”

While pandemic conditions have compelled many businesses to reduce staff, many employers with technology positions continue to hire, per CompTIA research.

“Everybody has to have tech support,” says Padilla. “The career fields that will always exist: IT is one of those career fields now. This is where we need people. We need people who are capable of building systems even if they're not going to be face-to-face with a customer.”

He adds, “The number of new hires in IT massively outweighed the number of layoffs. And plus, quite frankly, the pay is much better than average. So, come get a certification, get your foot in the door… the sky's the limit from there.”


An uncommon combination of skills and work ethic opens up tech jobs for military veterans without degrees

The tendency of veterans to be lifelong learners makes them attractive to employers seeking to fill positions working with technology. But the appeal goes beyond technical acumen, according to Padilla.

“The soft skills that people earn -- and I say earn, not just learn -- the automatic assumption of things like discipline and respect, the professional communication skills… those are things that can't be taught,” he says. “You can't get those soft skills that quickly like you have gained throughout years of service.”

He elaborates, “It's not that the technical skills are somehow lesser. You can teach almost anybody the necessary technical skills, as long as they're a teachable person. But you can't teach someone to be a teachable person. And that's something you get with a veteran. You get a teachable person.”

Are you -- or someone you know -- a military veteran leaving the service or considering changing careers? Consider launching a technology career with CompTIA Tech Career Academy. Fall 2022 classes are open for applications. Apply now and you could be launching a new career working with technology in the New Year.

In the meantime, to hear the rest of the special Veterans Day conversation with Padilla, click here: Episode 40 – Talking Tech Careers: Why Military Veterans Make Excellent Candidates for IT Help Desk Jobs.

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