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Prior research has shown that the skills and knowledge veterans gain in the U.S. military are often under-recognized and undervalued by civilian employers. This nationally representative survey, conducted in partnership with Gallup and the Lumina Foundation, draws on the perspectives of U.S. veterans to understand the educational attainment of veterans without degrees, the benefits their credentials bring them, and their attitudes toward pursuing additional education.
Veterans disproportionately hold certificates or certifications compared to non-veterans.
Certificates and certifications boost employability and earnings premiums for veterans without degrees
Veterans without degrees perceive less of a need for additional education than non-veterans without degrees.
These findings provide new awareness of how veterans view and capitalize on their nontraditional qualifications in the labor market. It highlights the tremendous potential for policymakers, veterans’ organizations, educational institutions, and employers to create better systems that help veterans turn their qualifications into portable and stackable credentials recognized across the country.
The United States military is the single largest provider of education and training in the country. Yet, for the U.S. veteran population (21 million) and especially the 4 million veterans who served from 2001 to the present day and are still early in their careers, there can be a disconnect between the education and training they receive in the military and the credit they receive in the civilian world.
All service members complete multiple training courses, which may include non-degree credentials, as part of their service. Efforts to make this transfer more seamless and to ensure that all learning counts are essential to honoring and supporting veterans in their transition to the civilian workforce.
A few key principles guide our recommendations around supporting veterans without degrees, as well as adults without degrees more broadly:
The data and insights shared here are drawn from the Strada-Gallup Education Survey: an unprecedented survey of more than 340,000 U.S. adults ages 18–65 that explores their educational experiences and attitudes. This study draws upon that vast sample to reveal veterans’ perspectives on education outcomes and the benefits and challenges that arise from earning non-degree credentials. Strada Education Network and Lumina Foundation collaborated on this report as part of a series of reports on adults without degrees.
Authors and Contributors
When it comes to education after high school, Americans know what they value and why. At Strada Education Network, we are listening to what they have to say and leveraging their insights about experiences and outcomes to forge more purposeful pathways between education and careers.
Gallup strategically partners with institutions to conduct custom research and implement best practices that create environments in which students and employees thrive.
Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. We envision a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials.
Among students who have work-based learning experiences, those with paid internships stand out for their increased earning power, confidence in themselves, and recognition of the value of their education.
Two centuries after the first historically Black colleges and universities were founded, the 101 accredited HBCUs in operation today continue to deliver on their legacy of expanding educational opportunity for Black students that leads to successful and fulfilling lives.
As a field, higher education has experienced a continuing evolution in how to measure success. For nearly five decades success efforts were focused on access, followed by the past decade and a half pursuing completion, and the field now has a growing focus on the value of a degree and student outcomes beyond completion.
Strada’s prior research on undergraduate perceptions of the value of their education demonstrates that students value their education most when they receive support to connect their education and career interests.
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How learners rate the value of their education pathways
The Benefits and Opportunities of Certificates and Certifications
What Adults Without Degrees Say About Pursuing Additional Education and Training
Relevance and the Value of Higher Education
When do Adults without Degrees Benefit from Earning Certificates and Certifications?
Employer survey on finding the best talent for the job
2018 Strada-Gallup Alumni Survey
State-by-State Demand for Education After High School
Strada and Gallup Examine Learners’ Top Motives for Choosing Their Postsecondary Path
2017 College Student Survey
Where Students Get Valued Advice on What to Study in College
US Adults Reflect on Their Education Decisions