San Antonio has gained another cybersecurity and information technology (IT) training program for military members. The Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA) program opened in March at the Embry Riddle Aeronautical University Campus located at Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA). The training is designed to provide service members the critical technology skills required for high paying science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers before transitioning to civilian life.
The class capacity for each MSSA program is 25 to 30 students in each cohort. Microsoft has launched 14 MSSA programs nationally including in San Antonio and expects to graduate approximately 1,000 students annually across all locations once at full capacity. Students may select one 18-week program or two nine-week training sessions that train military members for careers in cloud development, server and cloud administration, cybersecurity administration, and database and business intelligence administration.
For more information, those interested may contact the program by emailing SanAntonio@erau.edu or calling 210-659-0801.
The MSSA program is one of the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) flagship programs to assist service members transitioning into civilian careers as well as one of DoD’s SkillBridge resources. The DoD SkillBridge initiative promotes civilian job training for transitioning military Service members, with programs starting up to six months before a service member’s separation from DoD.
Training for service members costs anywhere from $6,000 to $9,000. Service members typically cover any associated costs using their G.I. Bill education benefits. Microsoft does not profit from the program’s tuition charge, according to Chris Cortez, Microsoft’s vice president of military affairs.
“As one of the few industry programs that trains active-duty U.S. service members for technology jobs and a cornerstone for the DoD SkillBridge Program, the MSSA program, in partnership with JBSA, is a reflection of Microsoft’s commitment to help the veteran community prepare for the digital economy,” Cortez said.
Microsoft partners with employers to facilitate post-graduation placement for military members. Graduates have gone on to work for over 280 different companies, including Dell, Inc., Expedia, Microsoft, Accenture, the Department of Defense, and others. By 2020 Microsoft Military strives to collaborate with over 500 hiring partners. Dell Inc. has a strong presence in the San Antonio region and is a huge advocate of the program pledging to hire local MSSA graduates, according to Cortez.
Microsoft first launched the MSSA program in November 2013 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. Cortez reports a retention rate of over 90 percent compared to most veterans who stay in their first job less than two years. The number of MSSA graduates to date who are employed or opted to complete their college degree is over 96 percent. Of those who are employed, 86 percent are working in technology jobs or technology companies with an average salary at little over $70,000 annually.
The Microsoft program joins other San Antonio cybersecurity and IT programs offered for active duty military members to assist in their transition to civilian careers. Dynamic Advancement and the nonprofit San Antonio Multidiscipline Security Operations Center’s (SAMSOC) Red Cell and DC Industries are located at Port San Antonio and target military members transitioning to civilian cybersecurity or IT careers.
Jordan Davis, vice president for operations at Dynamic Advancement, supports the growth in program offerings that offer industry-recognized training for transitioning military members.
“Certifications are the most accessible way to bridge the gap into the commercial world,” Davis said.