JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – A college education is essential in today’s job market. Service members have many resources available to help them earn a degree while serving. <br /> <br /> Education advisers showed service members a faster way to earn college credit during a College Level Examination Program fair at the McChord Library Dec. 4. <br /> <br /> Cindy Spane, a reference librarian for JBLM, talked to service members and retirees about free study materials the library offers to help test takers prepare. <br /> <br /> “We have study guides, video iPods, textbooks and DVDs available to check out,” Spane said. <br /> <br /> “I’m interested in CLEP as a way to get started in college,” said Pfc. Kirsten Cook, a Georgetown, Del., native, now a veterinary food inspector with 218th Medical Detachment Veterinary Services, 56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion. <br /> <br /> CLEP provides service members a way to earn college credit for knowledge they may already have without taking a class, said Christine Oliver, a Jacksonville, Fla., native, now an education adviser for JBLM education centers. <br /> <br /> Many service members face deployments that interfere with taking traditional college classes. <br /> <br /> “This is an easier, more convenient way of getting college classes done when taking classes isn’t an option,” Cook said. <br /> <br /> “I learned the hard way that employers want employees to have a degree,” said James Crone, a Spokane, Wash., native, now a readiness specialist at Waller Hall. <br /> <br /> The first step to CLEP is contacting an education adviser.<br /> <br /> “A college education prepares service members to take off the uniform and put on the civilian suit,” Oliver said. <br /> <br /> The McChord Library is planning to host another CLEP fair in February.