More than 250,000 military service members in 2019 joined the civilian workforce. For many veterans, reentering the workforce after a stint in the military can be a challenging transition. One of their primary concerns is to land a well-paying job where they can put to good use the skills and experiences gained from their service in the military.
Businesses, meanwhile, need skilled employees with the ability to face challenges the modern work environment presents. Figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the veterans’ unemployment rate in 2019 fell to 3.5%. In 2018, two out of five employers preferred to hire a U.S. veteran. Companies recognize the value of the various skills and abilities that veterans can bring to the civilian workforce.
Veterans’ Value To Civilian Employers
Problem-solving ability, self-confidence, strong work ethic and leadership are the traits that employers want most for veterans to bring to the workplace, as well as their ability to adapt to any situation.
This ability to adapt means that their career choices after serving in the military are varied and plentiful. Former service members’ expertise will aid them in good stead in any occupation that fits their skill set.
Most veterans, however, don’t necessarily look for a post that corresponds to their specialty in the military. While some veterans who were already in healthcare when they were on active duty continued to pursue a civilian career in the same field, there are also veterans who came from a healthcare background and went on to degrees and occupations in IT.
Civilian career options for former service members are not limited to their experience in the military. Veterans are known for their adaptability, and they can always rely on their disciplinary and technical skills. They can even start a new career, based on their passion for obtaining a job that’s available for former service members.
Veterans’ Top Choices
Below are a few career options ideal for someone with military experience. Each of these positions benefits from the skills and experience that veterans can bring to the civilian workforce. Moreover, these choices are based on what veterans value most in a civilian career, such as compensation, flexible hours and employment at a mission-driven organization.
This person’s main purpose is to assist families, individuals and large organizations or businesses with an extensive range of financial planning. A financial consultant's primary responsibilities are knowing their client’s financial goals and developing strategies to attain that objective. These strategies could include college savings plans, estate planning, retirement planning or drawing up investment and tax plans for clients.
Financial consultants also lend their expertise and advice on various aspects of financial issues such as project valuation, profit-and-loss reporting and capital budgeting. Also, depending on their area of expertise, financial consultants may choose to handle different clients and tasks. Some may even take on a specialized focus such as debt repayment, risk management, insurance engagements, mergers, acquisitions, business valuation, tax issues, corporate restructuring and federal laws compliance.
In general, a strong grasp of the intricacies of finance, accounting and related areas are needed to be a financial consultant.
A Cybersecurity Analyst recognizes possible cyber threats attempted, and installs IT-related security measures to remove vulnerabilities. They are responsible for putting up firewalls and network infrastructures. The security specialist also devises plans and defensive systems against intruders, and monitors systems for abnormal activity.
Besides technical skills like ethical hacking, skills like risk management and crisis response proficiency, areas in which veterans are trained, are useful in this field. Typically, a bachelor’s degree in IT or a related field is required to become a cybersecurity analyst. A Master’s in cybersecurity may be preferrable for senior roles.
A career in healthcare allows veterans to use their skills in the military and direct them into a fulfilling, mission-driven and lucrative career. Career paths for vets in the healthcare industry include hospital logistics and operations, research, administration, and registered nurses, nurse practitioners.
A nurse practitioner gives primary or specialty healthcare services, together with other healthcare professionals. Although this role is related to a registered nurse’s role, a nurse practitioner’s role includes patient education, direct healthcare services, and coordination with other healthcare specialists.
Nurses are in constant demand, and those who switch into this career look forward to a secure job with competitive compensation. It’s quite common for a veteran who had experience in healthcare in the military to follow the same path as a civilian nurse. That said, there are also those with no history of working in healthcare who choose this career path.
Regardless of background, there are a number of transferable skills that apply to healthcare. For instance, communication and leadership skills are essential in this field. Degree programs related to this field are BS in Health Management, BS in Health Science, Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Certificate.
These are independent contractors who advise clients on the most effective way of keeping their businesses organized and working smoothly. They also provide organizations with the best strategies to reduce costs, increase revenue and recognize opportunities for development, among others.
This job would require an applicant to have considerable experience in management support. A thorough understanding of management, business principles and procedures would also be necessary. Service members and former officers experienced in managing personnel and resources are a perfect match for this career path.
With their military experience to draw from, veterans can use their administrative know-how to point out areas that need improvement across civilian organizations. Programs related to this career are BS in Finance and Accounting Management, BS in Analytics, and BS in Project Management.
Getting a defense job with the Department of Defense (DoD) or a defense contractor almost always require a security clearance. A former service member would undoubtedly have an advantage because a security clearance is something a veteran already has.
However, defense contractors and other agencies are keen on hiring former service members not only because they already have security clearances, but also because of their character traits, like strong initiative, good leadership and self-discipline. A vocation in defense, for a veteran, provides interesting, well-compensated work with benefits, job security, and the added bonus of a chance to continue contributing to the country’s protection.
A job in defense contracting includes manufacturing materials that will aid the different sectors of national defense. Defense contracting jobs are directly related to the military and offer competitive wages, whether it involves building aircraft, weaponry or other military materiel. Other potential jobs in defense contracting include that of an analyst, intelligence specialist, quality assurance manager or contract management specialist.
Veterans are especially suited for law enforcement jobs, such as a police officer. A stint in the military already teaches most if not all of the necessary skills for the job. Law enforcement officers respond to calls for assistance and maintain law and order. Besides, once on the force, there are plenty of opportunities for advancement, from sergeant up to chief of police.
Experience as a service member would also be a solid foundation for detective work. Detectives talk to suspects, witnesses and victims to find out the real story of what occurred at a crime scene, and make a decision as to whether further investigation is needed. Due to the vigilance needed to serve in the military, veterans are often well-suited to this career path.
A number of law enforcement agencies prefer applicants who have completed either a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree in areas related to criminal justice. Adding a degree to your experience as a former service member will make you a valued member of any police department.
A research specialist uses information analytics to aid businesses in providing solutions to problems. Almost all professionals in this field have a STEM-related degree, like computer science or engineering. Like the management consultant, an operations research specialist assesses a business’s operations, pinpoints problems or inefficiencies and offers solutions.
However, instead of focusing solely on the managerial aspect, an operations research specialist scrutinizes all facets of the organization. By utilizing specialized software and information analysis methods to look for issues and opportunities, they can suggest improvements to resource distribution, logistics and more. As this work is quite complex, you should have at least a bachelor’s degree in a qualitative or technical field if you plan to pursue the post.
Veterans returning home and attempting to transition back to civilian life often have to face challenges. In situations like these, mental health counselors play an essential part in the lives of their patients. They work closely with veterans and their families, assisting them with problems arising in the readjustment to civilian life after time spent in the service.
Your experience as a former service member can make you a more empathetic counselor and psychologist, especially so when working with other former service members. Those who are transitioning to this job often look at it as a way to stay connected to the service, while also giving back and helping those veterans who are in need.
A sales manager guides other sales professionals in meeting business goals. Often, this responsibility includes developing training programs, monitoring sales and training personnel. As a sales manager, you would need effective communication skills to work with other team members, as well as other departments in the company, such as marketing. Moreover, a sales manager should possess solid leadership skills.
Employers appreciate the leadership experience that former service members obtained during their stint in the military. Many sales managers come from diverse backgrounds, but if you’re a veteran with at least a bachelor’s degree, you’ll have a strong advantage over the other applicants.
A logistician supervises activities comprising of shipping and transportation, purchasing, inventory, delivery and warehousing. They manage the movements of various goods, supplies or people. These professionals use specialized software systems to plan and track the movement of goods. A logistician’s responsibility includes using software programs specific to managing logistical functions, like inventory management, procurement and other supply chain planning.
These responsibilities make a logistician’s life somewhat fast-paced. Military experience is an asset in this line of work, particularly to the former service members who are experienced in coordinating personnel and supplies' movements. Logisticians usually have a bachelor’s degree in supply chain management, business or a related area of study.
A job in manufacturing appeals to a lot of former service members because their experience in the military prepared them for working with many people. The military also has a strict and orderly way of doing things with processes. And if something goes wrong, a veteran could use critical thinking and improvisation to solve problems.
This ability to stick to specific rules and standards, while still being able to improvise and think on their feet, makes former service members well-suited for any industry - particularly in manufacturing. The industry, however, changes rapidly. New technologies are always emerging, bringing with them new processes and new challenges.
This continuous evolution is causing a skill gap that employers and potential workers in the manufacturing industry are finding difficult to fill. For the approximately 250,000 former service men and women transitioning into civilian life every year, that skills gap may be an excellent opportunity for a gratifying career.
Experience in the military is a strong foundation for almost any career waiting in civilian life. The characters ingrained from years of service, such as dedication, teamwork, and the ability to follow directions, makes someone an attractive candidate for a lot of employers. Moreover, veterans are team players. Employees who can collaborate with others are a great bonus to any business.
Whatever your particular responsibilities were as a member of the military, and whatever your educational background, there are plenty of jobs you could be qualified to do after your time spent in service.