NORFOLK (NNS) -- The United Services Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP) helps service members and civilians advance and is completely free, said one Sailor March 2, who has enjoyed continued success with the program.
Machinery Repairman 1st Class (SW/AW) Thomas Chaney, course supervisor and an instructor for Advanced Machinery "C" School at Surface Warfare Officer School Learning Site Norfolk, earned his U.S. Department of Labor-issued apprenticeship certificate for Inside Machinery in 2007. It took Chaney four years to complete this certificate, and he is currently working on a Locksmith apprenticeship that he is on track to finish within a year.
The Center for Personal and Professional Development (CPPD) administers USMAP for service members in the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, according to Tom Phillips, USMAP supervisor and program manager. Phillips said civilians can't earn certificates through USMAP - the program is open only to eligible active duty service members.
"Costs for certificates in the private sector vary widely based on the trades and trade union costs to complete," he said. "It costs the Sailor nothing financially to enroll or complete a trade. The cost is in the time he or she will need to complete the trade."
Apprenticeship is formal career training with requirements set by civilian industry. Each industry determines the essential skills needed to complete an apprenticeship trade, with a trade requiring anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 hours of on-the-job (OJT) work and classroom instruction to earn a nationally recognized certificate of completion, according to Phillips.
"Working a typical 40-hour work week allows someone to complete 2,000 hours in about one year," he said. "However, Sailors can get credit for experience. Depending on how aggressive they are, they can finish longer trades more quickly than normal."
This may sound like too much work to some, but Chaney points out to his Advanced Machinery "C" School students that they are already doing the requirements for the program. All that is really needed is documenting the work and training hours. "It's a good program, and if you're doing the work you might as well go ahead and enroll in it."
Throughout his assignments, Chaney said his leadership has valued apprenticeship completion certificates that Sailors earn through USMAP. "One of my mentors at my first command mentioned USMAP to me. He said it would help your career out if you enrolled, so I did," he said.
It took four years for Chaney to finish the 8,000 hours required for Inside Machinist. His work toward completing the program was highly encouraged by leaders at each of the four commands he was assigned during that time.
There's good reason for that. "The Inside Machinist certificate relates directly to my rating. Almost everything we cover in MR "C" School is in the USMAP Inside Machinist certification process. It gives us guidelines and areas to work and improve on," Chaney said.
CPPD Commanding Officer Capt. Chuck Hollingsworth also encourages Sailors to take advantage of USMAP. "Petty Officer Chaney's use of USMAP is a great example of the 'professionalization,' if you will, of our Sailors. The program provides a means for our people to earn industry-recognized certification, and also highly benefits the Navy," he said. "Having an apprenticeship certificate puts Sailors on par with skilled counterparts in civilian industry."
Senior Chief Hull Technician (SW) Shane Fridley, Advanced Weld School Course curriculum model manager as well as Chaney's departmental leading chief petty officer, said Navy A and C schools teach the basics, and Sailors are expected to develop those skills in the fleet. "Being an MR means maybe being the only MR on the ship," he said, "so Sailors may have no one to guide and mentor them. USMAP provides a means to gain that practical experience needed."
While USMAP currently has 124 trades, the trades available for Sailors to enroll in vary by rating. The MR rating offers two - inside machinist and locksmith, of which Chaney is taking full advantage. After completing inside machinist in 2007, he enrolled in Locksmith. He's in the last quarter of the program for Locksmith, but it will take him a little longer than average to finish because his current job as an instructor doesn't afford as many opportunities to complete the necessary OJT hours. Instead, Chaney actively seeks opportunities to hone those skills and log the hours toward his Locksmith certificate.
"At my last command I was the command locksmith. I love working on safes and locks, and I found out I could have another certification that can be recognized by not only the Navy but by the state. With the certificate, I get the card saying I'm a locksmith with USMAP, and it almost replaces a lot of things I would have to do to get a state certification."
Sailors who have completed a USMAP certification demonstrate initiative and skill - traits that employers value. "While on active duty, it shows that they're working to improve themselves, which can help with promotions or job assignments," said Phillips. "Out of the service, the certificate places them among the most recognized and highly skilled craft workers in the industry. Having an apprenticeship can mean qualifying for better jobs with significantly higher pay."
This point is not lost on Chaney, who, in addition to pursuing a USMAP Locksmith certificate, is currently working toward a bachelor's degree in engineering and hopes to retire as a chief - or above. "It's a crucial certification to get as far as advancing in the Navy, especially in my case with the chief's selection boards," Chaney said.
Fridley said Chaney's participation in USMAP may just be the extra boost he needs to pin on anchors. "In the current environment of tough advancement competition, having that certificate will help you, which is a real incentive for Sailors to pursue the certificate."
Beyond his Navy career, Chaney plans to work as a civilian supervising in an area that involves machining. "I'll be able to help people if they have questions, so this will definitely help me," he said.
"The best part about USMAP is it gives Sailors the opportunity to earn a certification that will benefit them while on active duty and later as a civilian. It gives me guidelines so that I have experience in machining," Chaney said. "It will help me in advancements and in guiding others to complete a USMAP certificate, and as a civilian it helps in showing I have the credentials and experience to be successful."
What's the hardest thing about the program? Chaney said, "Nothing. There's nothing hard about the program itself. Situations in a Sailor's life may make it difficult, but the program itself is pretty easy - it doesn't have too many flaws."
Sailors who are interested in USMAP should visit the program website and for the right apprenticeship program for their rating. "I always encourage Sailors to enroll in USMAP. It costs them nothing," Chaney said.
Besides the cost-free advantage of this apprenticeship program, there's also the pride - and bragging rights - in Sailors being able say they have thousands of hours of work experience. And they have the USMAP certificate to back it up.
USMAP is one of many opportunities for personal and professional growth available to Sailors to earn certificates, licenses and degrees making them invaluable assets to the Navy. Those programs are important parts of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Department of the Navy.
For more information about the Center for Personal and Professional Development, visit: https://www.netc.navy.mil/centers/cppd/.
For more information on USMAP, visit: https://usmap.cnet.navy.mil.
For more news from Center for Personal and Professional Development, visit www.navy.mil/local/voledpao/.