Have you ever tried to explain what you did in the military to a civilian employer? You will often find that the “translation” is difficult without a JST to help. You are not alone. One of the largest hurdles veterans face when transitioning out of the service and into the private sector is figuring out how to tell a hiring manager what they actually did. It has to make sense to them.
What is a JST?
That’s where the Joint Services Transcript (JST) comes in. The JST breaks down all the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and National Guard jargon, and offers your military training and duty history in a format that a civilian employer can read and relate to.
(Note that the Air Force doesn’t use the JST; they offer official transcripts through their Air University/Community College of the Air Force system).
Civilian employers want to hire veterans. And indeed there are many federal and state mandates that give veterans hiring preference. But to compete, you still have to demonstrate how you are more qualified for the position. Competition can be stiff. You’re up against many people who’ve been working in the civilian world for years and know the terminology. They have experience in writing resumes to show exactly how their prior experiences match up with the requirements of the job posting.
This is the area where vets can struggle. And, unfortunately, a lot of hiring managers either don’t know that or don’t have time to try to decipher your background. It’s your job to make your resume clear and relatable for them, just as you must do during interviews later.
The JST is a powerful translation tool, similar to the O*Net Military Crosswalk, which is an online platform dedicated to explaining occupational data. But the JST does so much more. Designed to be a multipurpose tool, the JST is not only great for resume building, but it’s also meant to get you some free college credit, too.
Through a contract with the Department of Defense, the JST has been approved by the American Council on Education (ACE) as proof of military training and occupational experience. ACE works closely with the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) to “conduct and facilitate academic reviews of military courses and occupations.”
In fact, ACE goes a step further by making recommendations to colleges on how many credits such items should be granted. Of course, it is up to the school as to whether or not they can accept the transfer. But to date 2,300 colleges and universities do accept the JST as a valid transcript of existing academic experiences.
Getting the JST
Veterans may request their JST be sent to universities with their applications. The school you want to attend can evaluate your past military education for potential academic credit. Even if it only saves you from taking one class, it’s definitely worth it. And these days more schools recognize the value and transferability of your past professional military education. Leadership skills are nearly universal, so if you’ve ever attended leadership training, your JST will show it.
Prior to the Joint Services Transcript, the Army used AARTS, the Army/American Council on Education Registry Transcript System, for a similar product. The Navy used SMART, the Sailor/Marine American Council on Education Registry Transcript, and the Coast Guard used the Coast Guard Institute Transcript. JST replaces them all, but again, for you Airmen out there—remember that the Air Force is sticking with their own program.
Any Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard veteran may obtain a copy of their JST, regardless of rank or current duty status. The system is linked directly to military personnel systems and pulls all the necessary data to assemble to form. This data includes the member’s service information and a description, in layman’s terms, of the member’s prior military occupation and skill level.
Military Courses on JST
It also prints out the military courses the member has taken, a description of those courses, and the corresponding ACE credit attributed to them. In addition, it tracks all college-level test scores, including CLEP, DSST, NCPACE, American College Testing-Proficiency Examination Program (ACT-PEP) and others.
The JST even offers information about other types of learning experiences a veteran may have had during their service, which may or not be evaluated by ACE. But ACE covers most courses dating all the way back to 1954.
If you’re ready to retrieve your own JST, simply create an account on their secure website. Your Internet browser may display a generic security warning because the JST site requires your browser to accept their security certificate before continuing. Depending on your browser, this may be as simple as clicking the ‘Advanced’ button on your screen, and then clicking ‘Proceed to jst.doded.mil.’
After you create your account, you should see a transcript link at the top of the page. Unlike transcripts from universities, the JST is completely free and veterans may opt to have a copy sent directly to the school of their choosing by selecting it from the page’s dropdown list. The JST is also available electronically for print or download, however, these copies are unofficial.
The Bottom Line for a JST
Bottom line: Don’t be shy about sending your JST along with a job or university application. If you don’t at least have a personal copy of your JST for help writing your resume or college application, you’re putting yourself behind the curve. You’ll be surprised at how helpful it can be as you try to describe how skills acquired from old career fields really are similar to the ones you need for the civilian jobs you’re after. The JST will also jolt your memory, reminding you of things you may have forgotten you’ve done.
Set yourself up for success by understanding and leveraging all the post-service tools that the military offers. Because even after you’ve left, Uncle Sam is still looking out for you!