Service members considering a transition out of the military as well as anyone with access to Joint Base Lewis-McChord has the option to receive free training and certification with one of the country’s leading software and technology companies by enrolling in the Microsoft Military Program, available at no cost at both McChord and Grandstaff libraries on base.
The program is funded by a state grant and enables service members and civilians to become certified in specific software applications that make up Microsoft Office specialist and Microsoft technical assistant positions, including Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Word, Cloud Fundamentals, Database Fundamentals, Networking, Security and Software Development Fundamentals.
“It could cost $1,200 to get this same training and testing, including paying for proctors for the tests,” said Liz Athey, digital literacy associate with Pierce County Libraries.
Athey led a 30-minute orientation to the Microsoft Military Program at McChord Library Wednesday. At the same time, a similar program was hosted at Grandstaff Library by another Pierce County Library staffer.
The orientation is offered the fourth Wednesday of the month at noon at both JBLM libraries.
The program is offered through coordination of Pierce County Libraries, JBLM libraries and Microsoft.
The software giant is headquartered in Redmond, Wash., and offers extensive training and job opportunities to veterans. Getting a foot in the door at the mega company and in other office and technical companies is a bit easier when a person has completed the Microsoft Military Program and taken certification tests, according to Sue Baldwin, librarian and branch manager at McChord Library on McChord Field.
“Being able to get the certification is a huge (advantage),” Baldwin said.
The program isn’t specifically for getting a job at Microsoft, but having certification in the specific software programs is helpful at many businesses, Athey said.
Although the program has been offered since early 2017 at JBLM, it was revamped at the end of the year. It’s now easily accessible for JBLM participants to complete their coursework online — either at home or at the JBLM libraries — and test at the Pierce County Library facilities.
According to Athey, in 2017, people enrolled in 621 courses through the program and 182 certifications were awarded.
Sergeant Ben King, 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, attended Wednesday’s orientation at McChord Library hoping to sign up for the HTML5 App Development Fundamentals certification program.
King is originally from Vancouver, Wash., and after service in Korea and Georgia, he will transition out of JBLM in July. He’s already earned a bachelor’s degree in information technology through Columbia Southern University’s online program, and wants to take advantage of any other educational programs, such as the Microsoft Military Program, before he goes out to land a job in the civilian world.
“The big thing is though I’ve done some web development ... I’m hoping the certification will help break down some of those (barriers to getting hired),” King said.
Athey said there’s no expected time frame for completing courses, and people can work at their own pace. King said he hopes to finish his first course in about two weeks.
There are three steps involved in the program, Athey said: enroll, learn and certify.
Once a course is completed, the student receives a voucher from Pierce County Libraries for 60 days to complete testing, which can include practice tests.
For more information, call the Grandstaff Library at 253-967-5889 or McChord Library at 253-982-3454 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.