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Hard Hat Heroes: Making the Move From Military to Industry

Workforce Development

By Rachel Burris, Communications Manager, NCCER, from NCCER blog

I’ll admit, I’m in awe of the range of skills our veterans are learning in the military—from pipefitting to heavy equipment operation—and the connection to our industry. It seems like it would be a natural transition from the military to industry but it can be complicated. Terminology in skill levels and jobs are just a few of the differences encountered. For example, while industry uses credentials to indicate skill levels, the military uses Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) codes, Air Force Specialty Codes (AFSC) and Navy Seabee rates to designate a specific job. A civilian company might understand that MOS code 12W10 Carpenter and Mason means the military member or veteran has some experience with carpentry and masonry; however, it doesn’t tell them they would be at a Carpentry Level 1 credential or Masonry Level 1 credential, with some experience in additional levels.

That’s where the Hard Hat Heroes Credentialing Portal comes in! The free Credentialing Portal provides task alignments from military specialties to industry-recognized credentials for our veterans and transitioning military members. Celebrating its first year anniversary on Veterans Day, the Hard Hat Heroes Credentialing Portal had an incredible year of growth. When the portal was first introduced, there were 10 Army alignments, with other military branch alignments in the works. There are now over 70 alignments between the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Not only are there craft credentials, but also rank-based for leadership alignments.

What if you’re a veteran and don’t see your AFSC, Seabee rate or MOS code listed? Don’t worry, because you can request a crosswalk for your military skills! One of the veterans we featured this month did just that—Lawrence was one of the very first veterans to request a specific MOS code and received industry-recognized credentials for heavy equipment operator.

In addition to the significant strides made to expand alignments in 2017, Hard Hat Heroes also established a military advisory council, consisting of veterans and industry representatives. The council participated in a credentialing workshop, along with representatives from the military, to help roll out new alignments, with more coming in 2018. The ultimate goal of the council is not just to recruit veterans into the construction industry, but also to ensure they have rewarding and sustainable careers through the use of resources and support of NCCER and its Hard Hat Heroes initiative.

We want to offer a heartfelt thank you to the veterans who allowed us to share their stories: Antonio, a Navy steelworker; Mark, now a journeyman pipefitter; and Lawrence, a heavy equipment operator. Focusing on veterans in the industry allowed us to see a snapshot of the different career paths available and what the transition of skills can look like. They defended America, now let’s help them build it.

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