For many service members, the transition to civilian life comes with challenges. After dedicating much of your life to serving our country, you need to have clear direction about where to start your search for a civilian job. If you are wondering what to do after the military, you will find there are many jobs for military veterans that use your transferable skills well. Here are some excellent considerations to make as you look for a career path after completing military service.
In-Demand Careers for Veterans (with Degrees)
Your military career makes you uniquely equipped for some particular career paths because of your ability to remain cool under pressure and manage physically demanding jobs. With a degree, you may be able to have a higher-paying career after your military service as well. Some jobs worth considering include:
Healthcare—from nurses to doctors—continues to be an in-demand field. As the Baby Boomer population nears retirement in record numbers, demand for trained medical providers is skyrocketing. Working as a physician will earn you over $208,000 a year, which is one of the highest paid positions available, while working as a registered nurse has a potential salary of $75,330 a year.
Business and Human Resources
The business world also looks favorably on veterans because of their ability to work hard and in high-pressure situations. There are a wealth of career options here, and veterans are often well-positioned for managerial roles and jobs in human resources. The BLS estimates administrative services professionals earn an average of $98,890 a year.
Veterans can demand the respect of a classroom of students, and thus jobs in education can be a good fit. If you want to inspire the next generation, consider pursuing this type of training, but you will need an education degree. The estimated salary depends on grade level, but high school teachers earn around $62,870 a year.
If your military training taught you to pay a lot of attention to small details, then a job in finance may work well for your post-military career. Accountants and financial planners help people manage and control their money, and they are highly necessary in the current economy. Accountants and auditors earn an average of $73,560 a year, according to the BLS.
Relevant MOS Job Transitions after Service
Your military occupational specialty (MOS) can be a great place to look for a job after military service. You already have training in this field, and often the job skills you learned while working in the military will translate into jobs in the real-world. Some examples of careers where you can put your MOS into practice include:
Air Traffic Control
Military air traffic controllers are FAA certified, and this certification is the same certification civilian air traffic controllers have. You can transition your military credentials to a civilian job in the same field. This career path can be financially rewarding. The average pay is $130,420 a year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with an associate degree as a minimum requirement.
Many roles in the military are tech heavy. In them, you gain a number of valuable skills on computers, servers, and other technological equipment. This on-the-job training can open the door to a career as a civilian. Many tech careers require a degree as well, but a few do not. If you find work as a computer programmer, the BLS estimates an average income of $89,190, while those without a degree who find work as computer support specialists, a more generic IT role, earn an average of $55,510.
If you work in the medical world in your MOS, you will gain transferable skills that you can use in a career as a civilian medic. Paramedics and emergency medical technicians are the professionals who respond to emergency situations and provide enough medical care to stabilize the individual while they are transported to a hospital. This career requires a certification, not a degree, and has an average salary of $36,650 a year. Though not high paying, this field sees an average job growth of 11%, meaning it is a great choice if you are looking for something in demand.
Military vehicles need servicing, and this leads to many MOS positions. If yours involved working with vehicles, you may be able to transition to a civilian job as a mechanic. Many positions do not require a degree but rather on-the-job training or certification. The BLS estimates an average salary for automotive service techs and mechanics of $44,050 a year.
In the military, your MOS may be in the area of base security or military police. This field transitions well to a career in law enforcement. Your experience working with people and keeping the peace will help you do the same on the civilian level, and your hands-on training and military physical fitness will make getting through police academy that much easier. The BLS estimates an average salary of $67,290 a year for this role.
If you served in aviation, such as in the air force, you may be able to transition easily into an aviation field in the civilian world. Your learning curve drops significantly when you already know how to fly aircraft. Airline and commercial pilots can earn over $130,000 a year based on data from the BLS, and demand in this field is expected to grow by 13% from 2020 to 2030.
If you have driven a number of military vehicles during your time in the service, why not use that experience to launch a career as a driver? Truck drivers can earn over $47,000 a year.
Jobs with No Degree Required
One of the perks of a military career is the on-the-job training you get in a number of fields. Sometimes that creates transferable skills you can turn into a career without the need to go to school. Some career paths that might work well for veterans and that do not require a degree include:
Retail stores are always in need of workers, and your experience in the military working with others could help you do well in this field, too. This career is a great one for transitioning back to civilian life and getting used to non-military people. Most retail workers earn an hourly wage with an average of $13.13 an hour.
The manufacturing industry is another excellent place to tiptoe back into the civilian workforce. It does not require any specialized education and can provide a livable wage in many parts of the country. The BLS indicates that assemblers and fabricators, two common types of manufacturing jobs, earn about $16.81 an hour.
Pursuing a Trade
Trades, like electrician, plumber, or HVAC technician, often use internships and on-the-job training, rather than degree programs. While you may need some schooling to get your certification in one of these fields, you won’t need a full degree. These can be decently paying, in-demand career fields, too. Plumbers earn an average of $56,330 a year, while electricians earn $56,900 a year. Many allow journeymen or interns to earn income as they learn the trade.
If the high-paced nature of military work is something you miss, working as a firefighter may bring a similar intrinsic reward. You can put your skills and fitness to work helping people in your local community. The average pay for this field is $52,500.
What Civilian Managers Look for in a Veteran
One of the challenges you’ll face in the job search is the fact that you may have never made a resume before. Knowing what civilian managers want to see can help you highlight the right skills.
When considering a veteran as a job applicant, civilian managers are looking for specific traits. For example, they want to see a candidate who has good communication skills. These are skills you often learn in your military career time, but they are also skills you can brush up on before you start the search for your civilian job.
Civilian managers also want to see a candidate who can remain composed under stress. This skill often comes with military training, so it is a perk to hiring a veteran.
Leadership skills are in high demand, and again, this is a benefit of choosing a veteran for a particular job. Similarly, the ability to work on a team is a skill set today’s businesses need, and working with your fellow soldiers will teach you this skill.
Find Help with Your Job Search
Several organizations have dedicated themselves to help locate jobs for military veterans. You can check these to help with your job search:
Consider Graduate School
Veterans are uniquely positioned to take advantage of graduate school. The GI Bill allows some graduates to pay for grad school with their benefits, especially if they earned an undergrad while in the military. Consider using your GI Bill benefit to pursue more varied career options with a graduate degree.
Start Your Civilian Career Path Today
University of the Cumberlands offers a number of flexible options for veterans to consider as they pursue a degree that will help kickstart their post-military career. As a Top Ten Military Friendly School for the 2021/2022 school year, we have proven that we know what veterans need to be successful after finishing their military careers. We offer degree completion plans and a number of GI Bill-friendly programs that can help you afford your degree path.