GI Bill paying for IT certification

VA page about licensing and certification tests

Under a little-noticed provision of the GI Bill, the Department of Veterans Affairs is paying some costs for veterans who want to get certified as information technology specialists.

The new reimbursement provision went into effect in March, but word that it is available is just beginning to seep out to the public. Under the provision, veterans can get as much as a $2,000 reimbursement per test for taking certification or licensing exams for jobs in IT, computer engineering and other occupations.

High-tech companies are focusing on the provision's potential to increase the ranks of certified IT workers as shortages increase in the workplace. And Cisco Systems Inc. is using it to help sell potential customers on Cisco products.

"Our goal is to make sure that those organizations that are considering Cisco equipment know they can find qualified people to operate, maintain and grow their network," said Don Fields, senior manager of certifications at Cisco.

"We use a fairly rigorous process to come up with a series of exams that individuals need to pass to become certified," he said.

One candidate for the benefit is Hal Logan, 24, who spent three years in the Army in military intelligence. Now living in Bradenton, Fla., Logan said that the reimbursement is the incentive he needs to keep working on his certification level. He already has spent $1,200 getting various Cisco certifications and is continuing to increase his skill levels because the government will pick up the cost.

"I'm working harder now toward the expert level because I know I will be able to afford it," Logan said. "Before, the lack of funds was holding me back. Now the excuse that I couldn't afford it has been pulled out from under."

The benefit also covers costs for other technology licenses, including Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp. certifications.

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