Using the GI Bill to Attend Community Colleges is a Great Opportunity for Texas Veterans

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Most people who serve the United States in the military join one of the Armed Forces branches when they are young – often right out of high school. Besides the honor of serving to protect the country, the military provides on-the-job training that can serve veterans well when looking for employment after their service is complete. However, if they want to go to college for a degree that provides a different career path, they’ll be entering school later than their peers.

That’s why getting an associate degree at a community college can be a very wise decision for veterans. After two years, instead of four, veterans will be able to enter their chosen field. And, with the high pay structures, even for entry-level employees, in the petrochemical industry and healthcare industry, many associate degree holders can earn more to start than bachelor’s degree holders in a liberal arts field.

“Our member companies have a long history of employing and supporting veterans,” said East Harris County Manufacturers Association (an alliance of approximately 130 chemical manufacturers) Executive Director Craig Beskid. “Our members recognize the attributes of our veterans – discipline, leadership and strategic planning. These are valued traits in our industry, and you will find many veterans working for refining and petrochemical companies.”

blogpostimage2The modern GI Bill covers tuition, books, and even some housing costs for veterans who enroll in college. For veterans who choose community college first, if they earn their associate degree in two years, they will still have two years of GI Bill coverage if they choose to transfer to a four-year university. By earning the associate degree first, Texas veterans have the option to start earning $40,000 or more right away in a full-time job or to continue their education.

Most of our TGCCCC member colleges have been recognized by GI Jobs magazine as Veteran Friendly Colleges. Many of our campuses have centers that helps veterans through the registration process, tutoring and other support services — ultimately helping them make the most of their community college experience, and be successful.

The Gulf Coast petrochemical industry needs about 80,000 new employees to fill roles that will come available in the next decade – to build and run facilities. These are highly-skilled trade jobs and craft careers, and many would even be considered “white collar.” Almost all of them also only require an associate degree or certificate, and they all pay well – the average annual salary in the Texas chemical industry is $99,700. In addition, the larger oil and gas industry, as well as the healthcare industry and others are booming throughout Texas.

“Our Bayer MaterialScience chemical manufacturing plant has been particularly keen on tapping into the 1.2 million technically talented veterans expected to leave the military in the next several years,” says Shirlyn Cummings, Bayer MaterialScience’s Talent Management Director for NAFTA Production & Technology.

There has never been a better time to get a degree from a community college. And, if you’re a veteran, you can get it for free. Then you can start your new job on the right foot and on a sustainable, lucrative career track. So, browse through the careers in our Community College Petrochemical Initiative, and then contact your local community college to find out which two-year degree might be right for you.

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