After serving your country, you’re entitled to certain military benefits to help you transition back to civilian life and set yourself up for a long, successful career. One of the biggest programs available is the G.I. Bill. The surprising fact is that since 2009, only 51% of eligible veterans have used their G.I. Bill education benefits.

 Even if you don’t have plans to attend a four-year college or university, you can still take advantage of the benefits you earned and get the training you need for a successful career.


What is the G.I. Bill?

The G.I. Bill goes back to 1944, when a range of benefits was created for veterans of World War II. Since then the G.I. Bill has gone through numerous modifications, including the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008 and the Forever G.I. Bill in 2017.

While the G.I. Bill is commonly associated with paying for a four-year undergraduate education, the benefits can also be applied to non-degree programs such as a welding training program at a technical school or community college.


Why welding is a good career for veterans

There any many advantages of using your G.I. Bill benefits for welding school. For starters, most training programs can be completed in one or two years, allowing you to get a good-paying job very quickly. You may also find that your military background can directly or indirectly translate into the welding world, meaning you can pick up the skills and put your career on the fast-track.

Worker welding metal steel hull—propeller maintenance.

Welding is also one of the most in-demand professions, with positions available in many industries. Not only are welding jobs widely available but they also come with excellent starting salaries (with benefits) and many opportunities for advancement.


Post 9/11 G.I. Bill

Sometimes called G.I. Bill 2.0, the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill can cover up to 100% of the cost of your welding training program, plus other expenses. Benefits are broken into percentage tiers based on your service length. If you served for at least 36 months or were discharged due to service-connected disability, you could be eligible for 100% of maximum benefits.

  • Who is eligible: Servicemembers who have served on active duty for 90 or more days since September 10, 2001. View tier structure here
  • What it covers:
    • Actual net costs for in-state tuition and fees, up to $24,476.79 during the academic year (August 1, 2019 – July 31, 2020)
    • Monthly housing allowance – set E-5 rate with dependents and cost of living for the school's address
    • Up to $83 per month for book and supplies
    • Reimbursement for licensing and certification costs up to $2,000 per test
  • Restrictions:
    • For those discharged before January 1, 2013, you may have a 15-year time limit to use your benefits before they expire
    • Funds are paid directly to the school

If you participate in an apprenticeship for on-the-job welding training, you can apply for a G.I. Bill monthly housing allowance. The benefits start at 100% of your eligible allowance for the first six months, then gradually decrease every six months after that.


Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD)

The Montgomery G.I. Bill is another education benefits program available to veterans. Whereas the Post 9/11 G.I. bill pays for the actual cost of attendance and provides the funds directly to the school, with the MGIB-AD benefit you can receive a flat rate per school year.

  • Who is eligible: Veterans and servicemembers who have at least two years of active duty
  • What it covers:
    • Full-time students with three years of service can receive up to $1,994 per month; those with less than three years of service can receive up to $1,619 per month
    • Part-time students eligible for prorated benefits 
    • If you contributed to the $600 buy-up program while on active duty, you may receive up to $150 extra per payment
  • Restrictions:
    • You typically have 10 years to use your benefits but it can vary based on your situation
    • Benefit is paid to you and then you are responsible for paying for school expenses


Montgomery GI Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR)

If you served in the Select Reserve or National Guard, you may also be eligible for Montgomery G.I. Bill benefits.

  • Who is eligible: Members of the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Coast Guard Reserve, Army National Guard or Air National Guard with a six-year service obligation in the Selected Reserve or an officer in the Selected Reserve. View full eligibility criteria
  • What it covers:
    • Up to $392 per month for up to 36 months as a full-time student
    • Up to $294 per month for an apprenticeship (rate decreases every six months of training)
  • Restrictions:
    • Benefits typically expire after 10 years
    • You may not be eligible if you’re receiving an ROTC scholarship

Military scholarships

Even if you qualify for military education benefits, you can – and should – also apply for scholarships created for servicemen and veterans. To get started, you’ll need to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).


Taking the next step

As you plan the next steps in your life, be sure to tap into the valuable education benefits you earned during your service time. Using your G.I. Bill benefits for a welding training program can be a quick, cost-efficient way to starting a great career. 

This article originally appeared on

Author: American Welding Society Foundation ­- Publish Date: 7/9/2020.