Wondering whether you need more education to land a job after your military career? Here at VA, we have job opportunities for applicants at all educational levels, including those working toward a degree or certification.

However, there are a number of educational programs that can give you a leg up in the VA application process. Here are five degrees and certifications we commonly look for when considering applicants for clinical shortage positions:

  1. Nursing certifications

One of our top clinical shortage occupations is nursing: in particular, nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses (RNs).

You can become a nursing assistant or LPN by completing a state-approved certification program and passing a state exam. Nursing assistants, under the supervision of LPNs or RNs, provide varying levels of support and care to patients unable to care for themselves. LPNs provide basic medical care to sick, injured and disabled patients under the supervision of an RN or a physician.

  1. Nursing degrees

An associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing is the usual academic path to becoming an RN. Aspiring RNs also must take a national standardized test leading to state licensure. RNs who have been at VA for a year can apply for a higher education scholarship through the National Nursing Education Initiative.

  1. Psychology degree

At VA, we’ve made a commitment to providing Veterans with the mental health resources they deserve. That’s why we’ve recently hired more than 1,000 mental health professionals and continue to seek qualified mental health clinicians. Our psychologists assess, diagnose and treat many different mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. VA psychologists usually have a doctoral degree in psychology.

  1. Physician assistant degree/certification

Physician assistants (PAs) perform physical exams, order lab tests, diagnose illnesses and prescribe medications. Students take undergraduate- and graduate-level courses before entering a PA program and taking an exam to become a certified PA. PA programs are usually about 27 months long and culminate in a master’s degree.

  1. Medical degree

Physicians can train as primary care clinicians or specialists. After college, all physicians complete at least four years of medical school and onsite clinical training at a health care facility. The length of a residency program varies by specialty. Physicians hired by VA for a specific, hard-to-recruit direct patient care position may be eligible for VA’s Education Debt Reduction Program (EDRP), which offers qualifying physicians student loan reimbursement up to $200,000 over five years. VA physicians can also earn continuing medical education credits at no cost.

Choose VA today

In addition to numerous job opportunities and education support to advance your career, we offer a total rewards benefits package that includes generous paid time off, robust retirement plans and work-life balance. Explore VA careers and apply today!

Share this story

Published on Mar. 6, 2020

Estimated reading time is 2.6 min.

Views to date: 543


  1. Valerie Dupont March 26, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    Ochoa from Silverdale?!! I don’t know how many people write on here. I was looking for some money for my education! Don’t see any here.

  2. Desert Storm Vet March 26, 2020 at 2:21 pm

    I am a Vet who struggles with PTSD and received life changing therapy. If you or someone you know needs the VA check out PEER support or ask to speak with a social worker. A word of caution, there are so many of us out there if you can not engage responsibly they will stop pursuing you and move on to someone who will. The help is there a PEER support specialist or social worker will get you started. Particularly right now during this pandemic. Reach out online the VA has flooded any Vet willing to listen with a lot of information.

  3. curtis r welch March 26, 2020 at 1:39 am

    I am sure you won’t help a Vietnam Veteran, because we lost the war and the VA shows total disrespect to Vietnam Veterans. Now why do I say that, well look in the hallways of all the VA Hospitals or Clinics and see if you can find a picture of anything that shows up about the war in Vietnam or even Korea. Please remember one very important fact about these two wars, they were created by the Democratic Party not the Veterans who lost. The Party should be “Punished Not Us!!!!! Oh another factor in the Vietnam war that should also be mention is the drugs that were used by the Vets, but not me, were brought to Vietnam by the CIA, ALSO LSD was created by the CIA as well.

  4. Maurice Tillman March 26, 2020 at 12:36 am

    There is no need to write an article for this. They could have summed it up by saying “People with medical degrees and or medical certifications are more likely to land a VA job” or something along those lines.

    • James Granger March 26, 2020 at 1:37 pm

      You lost all credibility and respect when you ignorantly stated “Democreatic wars…,” loser!

  5. William Smith March 25, 2020 at 10:18 pm

    I am a 100% disabled veteran, a chapter 31 recipient and graduated with my master’s degree in Social Work in 2017. I was referred for a position with the VHA as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (at the Vet Center in Clearwater, FL) in December 2019. I have not heard ANYTHING since December 19, 2019, I have emailed the point of contact for the position multiple times with no response and the position still has not been filled. Yet the VA wants to give advice and CLAIMS they want to hire veterans, for crying out loud I am a schedule A hire on top of being 100% disabled veteran and qualified!! The position has not been filled in almost a year, but the VA wants to push mental health availability and support??? I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM ANYONE AT THE VHA!!! waiting.

    • Sean B March 26, 2020 at 1:18 pm

      Hi William,

      I have a disability rating from the VA as well, and I have my MSW. I’ve been denied more than 4 times for a social work position with the VA. Its beyond frustrating, because each time I go there for an appointment, the workers encourage me to apply. We’re not alone in this, many of veterans with MSWs I’ve spoken with seem to have the same issues. I’m wondering if the social workers in the VA don’t want veterans filling open positions in the field.

      Keep fighting.

    • S W March 26, 2020 at 6:49 pm

      William, what do you mean by “a schedule A hire”? Is that like being a VRA eligible? I was discriminated against at my V.A. Guess I was too old, so two jobs I interviewed for hired YOUNGER people with a lot less experience, or none at all, over me. I also got lied to in mediation and “lost”.

  6. Dan Coursen March 25, 2020 at 9:26 pm

    While it is true that there are some veterans out there who are not well served by this program, I have found that most veterans, including me, DO want to help their fellow vets. I hope this program conitues and is accompanied by other programs to help those vets for whom this is not a good fit.

  7. Richard Wittie March 8, 2020 at 10:44 am

    Really? Like every veteran is suitable to for medical services and work in VA hospitals. Many like me hate human to human interactions, hating and unable to handle the stress peaple cause. Yet the VA ignores such conditions expecting all Veterans to be perfectly comfortable and happy working under such conditions.
    I for one have been diagnosed with PTSD, Anxiety and Depression, told I need to work in a non-stressfull occupation. Instead of training me and assisting me to get such a position where I requested, I was denied and not training to be a school teacher. One of the most stressful position on the planet ! Dispite the vet center and psychologist advisement that this is a terrible idea. It is no wonder Veterans are number one in suicide! Instead of helping Veterans cope and ease thier symptoms, the VA purposely place Veterans in situations knowing they’ll have issues and feel suicide is best because the feel the VA is looking out for them.
    So is it really smart to think that all Veterans are suitable for the medical field? Or other high stress positions? The VA needs to stop looking at numbers of available positions and focus on what’s best for the veteran. Placing Veterans in situations where it is known they cant handle and refusing to change thier training because your already committed to a program is STUPID! and wastes thier benefits, tax payers money and the lives of these veterans who if placed in a relaxing position would benefit. Such vets cant quit the training due to the substance allowance needed to survive and cant just work at Lowes for minimal wage interacting with the public.
    The VA needs to be more Individualized in thier treatment and look at the Veterans needs. Not the employment needs of the workforce. Some Veterans this works, but for others this is a death sentence and stupid. Stop hurting Veterans and start helping all Veterans to adjust to the civilian market

    • Elizabeth Ochoa March 25, 2020 at 10:24 pm

      This is just one of the resources provided. I wouldn’t say it’s stupid just because it doesn’t fit YOUR needs. You need to look at this at a macro level and not micro.
      I too have been diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety and depression and have been recommended to work in a low-stress environment and I still want/intend to pursue a career in the medical/psychological field. There’s so much emotion in your post, I’d advise you to take the feelings out and try and have a dual perspective of what they are offering to veterans. I have been seeking help for 3 years now and it’s actually driven me to the field. My trauma doesn’t define me and it doesn’t get to dictate my future. I hope you heal. God bless.

    • George Lemke March 25, 2020 at 10:53 pm

      I totally agree Richard this another short-sighted, limited “program” giving only false hope to people who need real help. Very discouraging.

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • As an experienced professional, do you know what you want from your next career? When you begin your job search, consider these important points.

  • Join our recruiters for three events this October and learn what a career at VA has to offer.

  • With investments in a diverse workforce and leadership, our sense of inclusion equals innovation for the Veterans we serve.