October 17, 2023
10 min read
The transition from military to civilian life is never easy. It’s a nuanced process that requires preparation. But if you’re a service member who’s 180 days out from their separation date, SkillBridge might be a good option for you.
SkillBridge is a program that helps with a service member’s transition to civilian life through opportunities like internships and apprenticeships. We’ll explain what the program is, how it works, who’s eligible, and most importantly, how to start your application process.
SkillBridge — also called the Department of Defense (DOD) SkillBridge program — offers service members a chance to get more experience in civilian workplaces with apprenticeships, internships, and industry training while they finish their final 180 days of service.
This program is like a bridge for military service members transitioning to civilian work. It helps people form a connection with SkillBridge industry partners to gain on-the-job experience. Since the program was created, more than 100,000 military service members have participated.
One of the best things about SkillBridge is that people get to learn new skills and gain meaningful work experience in areas that they’re interested in. These transitioning military service members also get a competitive edge against others in the job market thanks to this program.
It’s also been pretty successful as a program. Of SkillBridge participants, more than 90% find a meaningful employment opportunity within six months after they’ve finished the program.
The SkillBridge program refers to the opportunities offered to service members to gain experience in the civilian workplace. The SkillBridge program includes:
All of these opportunities in the SkillBridge program are offered during the last 180 days of the military member’s service.
SkillBridge was created in 2011, after the financial crisis in 2008. It was created as a pilot program designed to aid military service members in transitioning back to civilian life.
The reason behind the creation of the program stemmed from concerns about the difficulty and complexities of a transition to everyday civilian life.
Since 2011, SkillBridge has grown extensively. In 2017, it became a permanent program.
To be eligible for SkillBridge, you have to meet a few certain requirements. Mainly, an eligible participant needs to be a military service member on active duty during their last 180 days before their date of separation.
Some particular groups within the National Guard and the Reserves can also be eligible for this program.
If you intend to participate in SkillBridge, you can do so 180 days before released from active duty. You’re not allowed to join the program before that 180-day mark.
There are locations all over the U.S. For example, there are locations in areas such as:
It depends. If you want to do this program online, one option is the RecruitMilitary SkillBridge program.
This option provides options that are completely online. For those interested, there are other opportunities within the RecruitMilitary SkillBridge program that allow military service members to travel. Still, keep in mind that those are just options and traveling isn’t a requirement.
All you need to participate in the RecruitMilitary SkillBridge program is a strong internet connection.
The services, resources, and opportunities SkillBridge offers vary depending on what positions are open.
Here are three examples of potential opportunities for transitioning service members.
One example lies within the solar industry. Sunbum Solar partnered with SkillBridge in an effort to better support the growing solar demand in the U.S. As such, the open positions available include roles like:
If interested in one of those positions, you’ll learn new skills and information about installation, commissioning procedures, solar design, troubleshooting, and roof safety. For this position in particular, the focus is on ground mounted and residential roof solar installations, including those with and without a back-up battery.
Positions with Sunbum Solar aren’t always available, as they’re often posted and filled rather quickly, but it’s a great option for those interested in the solar industry.
Although all SkillBridge positions can be considered meaningful, opportunities in the Veterans Treatment Court can be particularly significant.
The Veterans Treatment Court is an entity that helps veterans who have either a mental health condition or a substance abuse disorder. Its mission is to eliminate criminal behavior and the use of drugs through accountability and treatment.
That being said, in this SkillBridge position, transitioning military members could pursue careers and roles like a therapist, court services employee, a probation officer, or an employee who works in veteran services.
With this program, you’ll work with veterans and attend court. The job requires lots of healthy communication and community interaction, as well as networking, all for the sake of aiding veterans who might be struggling with their mental health or with substance abuse.
In this position, the preferred applicants have experience in areas like criminal justice, mental health, and substance.
There are also some military-related opportunities within SkillBridge. For example, if your goal is to continue working with other military service members, you can do so through squadron training.
If you chose to do this, your responsibilities would revolve around military training, including the planning, organization, and direction of the training. This role can also require other duties, such as:
It all depends on what your supervisor wants you to focus on. Still, the job wouldn’t solely fall on your shoulders. The person in this type of opportunity would work with an instructor and perhaps someone in administration.
If you’re a military service member approaching the last 180 days of service, getting an opportunity through SkillBridge might be at the top of your list. Once you’re ready, you can start making moves toward getting a position through this program.
For those interested in this program, you’ll need to reach out to your installation SkillBridge point of contact to ask questions and inquire about participating. Examples of point of contacts include in the:
You also need approval. Military service members who want to participate in SkillBridge will need to get approval from whoever their unit commander is. This person should have a pay grade of at least O-4 and should be the first commander in your chain of command.
Although it’s not necessarily required, SkillBridge strongly recommends that interested military service members finish the transition program for their service. Completing this program allows potential participants to make sure they understand all the possible options post-service before choosing this program.
If you’re interested and are having trouble finding your point of contact, you can also reach out to SkillBridge directly through its online contact page. Once you do that, an installation-level program manager who can help will reach out.
So, what is there to do in the meantime, while you’re waiting to hear back?
It’s a good idea to go ahead and practice interviewing and answering questions during the SkillBridge process. Although you can always practice in front of a mirror, a better idea would be to practice responding with the help of an AI interview simulation. Yoodli is a perfect example.
Nowadays, generative AI is all the rage, and Yoodli’s powered by exactly that. Here’s how it works.
You can make an account with Yoodli for free and explore its bank of practice interview questions. They’re separated into various categories to make it easier for users to choose interview questions relevant to them. However, if you’d like to practice more specific questions for SkillBridge, you can actually input your own questions for Yoodli to ask you.
Yoodli will then simulate an interview by asking you questions and analyzing your answers. This AI tool evaluates your speech and speech patterns on multiple levels and provides you with specific metrics, such as:
On top of all of that, Yoodli provides actionable suggestions and recommendations on how to improve your interview responses. For example, the tool might notice that you usually begin your sentences with a filler word, like “so.” If that’s the case, it might suggest trying to become more self-aware or pausing before you start to speak.
It can even help detect any unconscious bias you have by flagging any language that could be considered offensive.
When you’re ready to start prepping for SkillBridge, check out Yoodli’s capabilities and how it can help:
Like other organizations committed to helping with the civilian life transition for service members — such as Hiring Our Heroes or VetJobs — SkillBridge has some notable partner companies (both in the past and currently).
For example, some brand names you might recognize that partner (or have partnered) with SkillBridge include:
All of these industry partners provide a plethora of opportunities for those interested in SkillBridge. The specific areas available to explore include everything from advanced manufacturing to education to cybersecurity and healthcare. It totally depends on your individual preferences and career goals.
Because SkillBridge is such a critical program for so many service members in transition, tons of frequently asked questions exist.
To clear up any potential confusion, here are the most common SkillBridge FAQs.
Yes, you still receive payment during your participation in SkillBridge. Not only will you continue to receive compensation from the military, but you also continue to enjoy military benefits.
It depends. Some programs in SkillBridge actually do require participants to use their GI Bill to pay for any training costs. However, other programs in SkillBridge are the opposite. For example, HireMilitary doesn’t ask service members to use their benefits in order to work in an internship.
Yes, you can be denied participation in SkillBridge. This is because you need approval from the first field grade commander in your particular chain of command.
Based on things like unit mission requirements, the commander can approve or deny your request to participate in SkillBridge.
It depends. The amount of time it takes for your SkillBridge request to get approval can depend on a few factors.
One of the most important tips, however, is to start the conversation early. Don’t wait until the last minute to consider SkillBridge.
Still, approval can happen rather quickly. Some applicants report that they received approval within a couple of days to a month.
Contrary to popular belief, SkillBridge and the Career Skills Program (CSP) are actually the same program. The Department of Defense uses these two names synonymously.
It can depend. You can certainly travel for your SkillBridge program, if your internship or apprenticeship offers it.
Oftentimes, SkillBridge participants will be put on permissive temporary duty (TDY) travel orders until their program ends.
Yes! NASA does offer internships through SkillBridge that military service members can use as a bridge to a full-time position.
Again, it depends. However, generally speaking, it’s possible for you to be drug tested during your SkillBridge program.
For example, in the Air Force program, being drug tested is certainly a possibility.
This depends on your personal situation. For example, if you typically get Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), you’ll continue to get your usual amount during your SkillBridge program. This will also be based on your assigned duty station.
For military service members who are 180 days out from their separation date, SkillBridge is an excellent option to consider. The plethora of industries that it hosts positions in ensures that there’s an industry-specific role for anyone interested in the program.
While you wait for SkillBridge approval, start practicing and preparing for any potential interviews that come your way via Yoodli. That way, you’ll be confident and ready once the process begins. You can even explore other options, like G.I. Jobs.
Getting better at speaking is getting easier. Record or upload a speech and let our AI Speech Coach analyze your speaking and give you feedback.