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Marine Corps Base Quantico welcomes Embry Riddle Aeronautical University Microsoft Software and Systems Academy, Jan. 8, which will allow Marines to get training for promising careers in information technology and various STEM fields.

Photo by Frances Seybold

Information technology school opening aboard Quantico

23 Dec 2017 | Frances Seybold Marine Corps Base Quantico

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at the National Museum of the Marine Corps Jan. 8, 11:30 a.m., celebrating the launch of ERAU-MSSA and their introductory class.

MSSA software academy assists service members with critical technology skills required to become lucrative assets in information technology (IT) and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers prior to civilian transition. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), IT and STEM careers are expected to experience rapid growth by 2020 attributing the majority of the growth to cloud computing and cyber security.

After graduating from the 18-week program, graduates are able to beat the competition when applying to more than 240 companies to include Microsoft, Dell, Facebook, Amazon Web Services, Accenture and the Department of Defense.

With graduates certifications valued at $20,000 and the course equating to a semester of academic credit, veterans are trained in server and cloud administration, database and business intelligence administration, cloud application development and cyber security administration. 

In conjunction with the technical training, resume writing, mock interviews, networking and setting up LinkedIn accounts is also taught. The certifications earned will help veterans pursue positions as management, business and financial associates and administrators. Graduates may also pursue careers as IT accountants and auditors, general office mangers and customer service representatives.

“The MSSA program brings tremendous opportunity for relevant training that leads to meaningful employment,” retired United States Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Chris Cortez, vice president of Microsoft Military Affairs said. “We are excited to bring the MSSA program to Quantico, which will allow veterans located on the east coast the ability to take advantage of the technology training Microsoft has to offer, which will ultimately help them transition into civilian life with a high-paying, long-term career.”  

According to Cortez, veterans from all military backgrounds have gone through MSSA and use it as a bridge between one great career–serving in the United States military–to a high-paying career in the technology industry. Since the program launched in 2013, MSSA has achieved a 91 percent graduation rate, graduating more than 625 students. Of those who passed through the program, many have secured careers with an average salary of $70,000. BLS quotes the median annual wage being approximately $83,000.

As many organizations, such as health care, IT, mobile networking and data management companies push to provide a cloud data infrastructure which holds more information and can be accessed and monitored remotely, organizations have been left more susceptible to cyber attacks. BLS states that cyber attacks have increased 17-fold with this advancement. IBM Security and Ponemon Institute released their 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Overview, which discusses the amount of profit companies lose due to data breaches. Across 461 companies, approximately $3.62 million was stolen.

Hiscox USA, a leading specialist insurance company found in their 2017 cyber readiness report, that across 3,000 companies spanning the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, 53 percent of them were ill-equipped to handle a cyber attack. It is because of such extenuating circumstances BLS has projected IT and STEM professions will create 546,100 new jobs by 2026, with employment in cloud computing and information security in high demand. 

As MSSA is projected to service 14 bases across the United States, ERAU-MSSA hopes to graduate 1,000 students annually, while upholding their 94 percent retention rate of graduates continuing their second career after the military for at least two years. In a study conducted by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, approximately 2 million veterans leave their job in less than two years. The study also found approximately 90 percent of veterans identified the biggest obstacle to attaining employment was finding opportunities that match past military training and experience. This in turn adversely effected their career development, benefits, work environment and employee relationship with management, thus causing the feeling of inadequacy in applying their skills and abilities; adequate benefits and pay; and meaningfulness of the work.

ERAU-MSSA plans to help service members find fulfillment in the current job market by creating an opportunity for service members to leverage their military experience and assert themselves into a lucrative career path. Currently Quantico is accepting applications for its inaugural cohort class starting in January. To be eligible, a service member must be leaving active duty or have recently left the service in good standing.  Applicants are asked to apply with a passion for technology, meet admissions requirements and pass a test administered by Microsoft.

MSSA information sessions are held every Tuesday at noon in Building 3089, next to the Voluntary Education Center building off of Roan Street. Virtual information sessions are also available. For more information, service members can call ERAU Campus Director, Yanci Beers at 571-406-6845 or e-mail her at