Transitioning from the military into the civilian workforce can be challenging, but sometimes military veterans are not even aware of how much they bring to the table.
Many have exactly the kind of skills, knowledge and attitude that hiring managers in the business world want.
In some cases, it’s easy to draw parallels between military and civilian jobs. A veteran fighter pilot knows she has the skills to work for a commercial airline. The same “apples to apples” comparison also holds true for military doctors, nurses, lawyers and engineers.
But it doesn’t stop there. Military service can open the door to many stable and lucrative careers, even for veterans who do not fall into the above “obvious” categories.
Keep in mind that salary is just a starting point. Pay varies depending on specific job duties, industry and location. It’s important to do individual research on the specific job you have interest in.
Opportunities in Logistics
The emergence of a technological, data-driven supply chain for businesses – as well as nonprofit organizations and governments – has created job growth in this field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 7% growth for logisticians through 2026, with the average annual salary reported at $77,810 in May 2016. The top 10% in the field earned $117,310.
Veterans who worked in supply chain in the military could adapt to this job. Military supply chains ensure troops have the food, weapons and supplies they need when they need them. Veterans may also have experience in dealing with complex negotiations, including handling supply chains in multiple countries.
The BLS notes that those with experience doing logistical work for the military make for desirable candidates. While some employers may hire logisticians that have an associate degree, most employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in business, systems engineering or supply chain management.
Careers in Project Management
Everyone who has served in the military may already have experience in one of the foundational tenets of project management: teamwork. In both the military and the private sector, the ability to assemble teams that work well together to achieve a common goal is critical to success.
Project managers also must have excellent decision-making skills. Veterans may have learned to think independently, adapt to the latest technology and have flexibility when strategies change. All of this translates well into project management.
The BLS does not specifically track project management jobs. However, the Project Management Institute® (PMI) estimates 33% growth in the field through 2027. Project managers average an annual salary of $105,000 in the private sector.
Employers prefer candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree in business or a related field; an advanced degree may qualify candidates for top positions. It’s also wise to earn certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP)®.
Cybersecurity Career Path
Those who have worked in cybersecurity for the military have been trained in technology and techniques that protect the integrity of computer systems and data. The BLS projects a 28% increase in the number of information security analysts through 2026, and an average annual salary of $96,040, as of May 2016.
Cybersecurity professionals maintain the safety of computer systems against outside attacks. With the number of such attacks increasing in recent years for both public and private information systems, the job provides opportunity for veterans who worked in information technology while in the military.
Most employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field such as a criminal justice degree with a concentration in cybersecurity; a master’s degree may be helpful for the top jobs in the profession.
Accounting and Finance Career Options
One constant in the business world is the need for qualified people to handle company finances. The term “finance” can encompass many different jobs, including economist, accountant, financial analyst, actuary and cost estimator.
Veterans bring discipline and trustworthiness to the table, two big factors that can determine success in finance. Veterans also have a proven track record in the business world, with many companies having current or former CEOs who served in the military, according to Business Insider.
The BLS provides a list of finance and business occupations, many of which are projected to grow rapidly in the coming years. Schools that are military-friendly provide degree programs for military veterans interested in specializing in a financial profession, as many employers require a bachelor’s degree.
How to Get into These Occupations
Getting a job in any of the four above areas may require earning a college degree. For veterans returning to the classroom, there are other things to keep in the mind in addition to paying for school.
- College Credit for Military Service – In some cases, schools will give college credit for military training and experience, a big help in getting a degree as quickly as possible and not wasting time learning things you already know.
- Military-Friendly Status – Some schools may offer tuition discounts, college credits and special services to servicemembers furthering their education. Part of being military-friendly can include offering online classes, which makes it easier to schedule school work around busy professional and personal lives.
- Demilitarizing Your Resume – Once your job search begins, it’s important to translate your military experience into language a civilian hiring manager can understand. This includes changing terms such as “soldier” to “employee” and “deployment” to “overseas assignment.” It might seem trivial, but it will make your resume more attractive.
Putting these ideas into play can help you secure a job in any of these growing fields. While military service can prepare you for different occupations, these four areas can be a good fit for those with the right experience and interests.