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DOD Opens More Cyber Trades to Apprenticeship Program

The agency developed standards for more than a dozen cyber occupations that would address national security needs.

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DOD Opens More Cyber Trades to Apprenticeship Program
Army Staff Sgt. Gregory Fretz, cyber operations specialist with 178th Cyber Protection, Mississippi Army National Guard, monitors cyber attacks during Exercise Southern Strike at Camp Shelby in April. Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Renee Seruntine/DOD

The Defense Department opened nine new trades for enrollment in its cyber apprenticeship program to help address the military’s growing needs for a technical workforce.

The agency’s United Services Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP), originally started by the Navy in the 1970s, is the largest single apprenticeship program registered with the Department of Labor. USMAP provides active duty, guard and reserve service members from all branches with training opportunities while serving.

Since the cyber program’s inception in 2022, USMAP introduced 15 cybersecurity occupations to address military workforce needs, including those approved during the Biden administration’s 120-Day Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Sprint in late 2022.

Some of the available trade areas include cyber defense analyst, cyber digital forensics analyst and cyber intel planner. The agencies are finalizing additional cybersecurity areas over the next several months.

USMAP’s efforts are part of a recent push to expand cyber talent in government. In July, the White House unveiled the National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy to expand cyber education and address cyber workforce needs in the public sector. October’s AI executive order also emphasized the need for cyber talent specific to AI and called on agencies to conduct a “hiring surge in AI talent.”

According to DOD, USMAP’s evolution could “potentially serve as a cyber apprenticeship model” for other federal agencies.

“Our peers in federal government and industry can leverage the DOD’s already established cybersecurity registered apprenticeships to create their own within their organizations,” Gary Schaub, senior advisor for professional military education in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness, said in a statement. “Commonality will enhance recruitment and retention of the cybersecurity workforce as well as foster common competency and portability across federal government and industry.”

Training through programs like USMAP is key to filling thousands of open cyber jobs in the national security infrastructure.

“If you can do the job, if you have the skills, we shouldn’t really care if it’s a certification or a degree, go do the job,” DOD Principal Director for Resources and Analysis Mark Gorak told CyberCast in May. “We also have to look at all the force that we already have today, and how do we keep them up to date with the changing technologies.”

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