The Army continues to boost its credentialing program so that soldiers receive proper credit for their training and experience.

As the service undergoes its largest drawdown in decades, Army leaders are doubling their efforts to boost the Army Credentialing Program, which gives soldiers opportunities to earn civilian-equivalent certifications and licenses. This includes a major effort by Training and Doctrine Command to link credentialing opportunities to every single military occupational specialty in the Army.

The emphasis on credentialing helps soldiers in and out of uniform.

Earning credentials helps soldiers sharpen their skills and gives them valuable promotion points.

Soldiers competing for promotion to sergeant and staff sergeant can earn 10 points for each technical certification, for a maximum of 50 points.

Credentials also help soldiers when they leave the Army and re-enter civilian life by giving them hard-earned proof of their skills that is universally accepted by employers.

In November, the Army announced that more than 10,000 soldiers and veterans have earned commercial driver's licenses since a Department of Transportation program recognizing soldiers' driving experience was launched in 2011. In 2014, about 20,000 soldiers earned credentials in 65 MOSs.

Soldiers can earn two types of credentials.

The first is a non-Defense Department government license, such as a commercial driver's license issued by a state government or a Federal Aviation Administration license. The second type is a certification from an independent, industry-recognized agency, such as the American Culinary Federation or the American Welding Society.

As TRADOC continues to work on MOS-specific credentials, the Army's Credential Opportunities On-Line, or COOL, provides soldiers a vast menu of credentials in just about any field they might be interested in.

The Army COOL website also has information on what soldiers need in terms of skills, tasks and requirements to earn any number of requirements.

If a soldier earns a credential through TRADOC, the Army covers the cost. A soldier working on his own in some cases can use Tuition Assistance to cover some training and preparation costs, but not the cost of the credentialing exam.

Sometimes, especially if a soldier is in a transition program, a non-government entity such as a trade union in that field may cover the soldier's credentialing expenses.

To see what credentials are available to you, visit https://www.cool.army.mil/ or visit your local education or transition assistance office.