About 250,000 service members transition into civilian life every year. One of the first things they do is look for a job, and many don’t like what they see.
A LinkedIn study found that 33% of veterans are underemployed, meaning they engage in work that doesn’t make full use of their skills.
Combat skills aren’t easily transferred to civilian jobs. But military training instills discipline, adaptability, a strong work ethic, communication, teamwork and an appreciation for a job well done.
Those are traits every employer craves.
Finding a good job is a job in itself, but there are plenty of them out there for veterans. Here’s a look at veteran-friendly jobs and how to get one.
Jobs After Military Service, No Degree
There’s a vast array of good jobs that require zero days of college training. For veterans, the military is like a college.
The skills you learned did not disappear when you were discharged. It’s just a matter of finding a job that makes use of those skills. Here are a few to consider:
- Government Contractor – These people negotiate agreements with government institutions and then deliver the products, usually essential goods and services. Having a security clearance in the military is advantageous because you can use your knowledge with intelligence and defense technology sectors of the government.
- Aircraft Technician – If you’ve been trained in this field, you could work for a commercial airline inspecting, repairing, and maintaining their fleet of airplanes.
- Security Guard – Talk about transferable skills. Enlisted soldiers are used to carrying guns and keeping the peace, often in hostile environments. They can surely do that any civilian outpost.
- Truck Driver – Working long hours on unconventional schedules is routine in the military. The mental stamina required for that is ideal for long-distance hauling of goods.
- Automotive Technician –You’re using the repair skills you applied to Jeeps and tanks on cars and SUVs.
- Police Officer – Military duty often involves enforcing laws and maintaining order. A successful police force needs teamwork, strategic thinking and dedication to your community. That makes it a natural career for veterans.
- Correctional Officers – You ensure prison inmates stay safe and secure by enforcing rules and intervening in disputes. That regimen is familiar to many veterans.
There are many more veteran-friendly jobs that don’t require a college degree. In many ways, there’s no better training ground for these fields than the military.
Civilian Jobs for Veterans With a Degree
A degree is by no means required to get a rewarding job after discharge, but it doesn’t hurt. Certain occupations require a diploma or similar high-level training. Here are few that are well-suited for veterans.
- IT Program Manager – Military command skills are valuable when you are in charge of a staff. You must understand the various coding and design jobs and make sure the project is completed on time.
- Business Development Manager – Like a military strategist, you create a program that grows a business and allows workers to flourish.
- Management Consultant – You advise companies how to perform more efficiently and effectively. The result is their mission is a success. It’s similar to the design of military missions, minus the bullets.
- Aviation/Aerospace Program Manager – Remember Apollo 13, either the real thing or the movie? Like all early NASA missions, veterans with aviation experience were vital. Those skills in overseeing design, research, integration and testing are still vital in today’s aviation and space businesses.
- Intelligence Analyst – These are jobs working with the FBI or other law enforcement agencies analyzing material collected by field offices and identifying threats. If you’ve done anything like that in the military, doing it as a civilian is a home run.
As with jobs that don’t require a degree, veterans with degrees often have an advantage over civilians. These jobs can also pay twice that of non-degree jobs.
Government Jobs After Military Service
Staying on the government payroll has been a good option for millions of honorably discharged veterans. There is an abundance of civil service, federal, state and municipal positions suited for ex-military.
- Department of Defense – It employs about 730,000 civilians, of which 47% are veterans. One of the agency’s mottos is “Continue the Mission!” The current U.S. secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, was an Army general.
- Veterans Administration – Employs some 17,000 veterans whose job it is to aid other veterans.
- Social Security Administration – This department employs about 3,000 veterans work in human resources, administrative support, IT and security roles.
- Justice Department and Homeland Security – Together, they employ about 6,000 veterans and have jobs uniquely suited for ex-military, like U.S. Marshall, DEA, ATF, FBI or Border Patrol agent.
One thing worth considering is federal government work in a civilian capacity counts as time in service and increases your retirement benefits. If you’re tired of getting paychecks from Uncle Sam, you can take a break when you’re discharged and take a government position later. Your benefits will resume accruing after that hiatus.
Veterans & Security Clearance Jobs
The terms “military” and “security” go hand-in-hand. Many veterans may qualify for a security clearance job, meaning they have passed a background check and are cleared to view confidential and secret information.
That applies to government jobs as well as private-sector jobs in fields like IT, education, finance and health care. One of the hottest fields for job seekers is cybersecurity.
The Department of Labor estimates that cybersecurity jobs will grow 33% through 2030. That’s because cybercrime is skyrocketing, causing $6 trillion in damages in 2021, according to a CyberSecurity Ventures study.
There are far more cybersecurity jobs than there are people to fill them. If you have security clearance and want job security, cybersecurity is definitely worth a look.
Here are some other possibilities:
- Supply Technician – In the military, these people are responsible for sourcing equipment and supplies to make sure the troops in the field have what they need to get the job done. The government needs people like this in mission-oriented, nonmilitary positions.
- System Administrator – Also known as Sysadmins, a system administrator is an IT professional who is responsible for the upkeep of various IT services within an organization. They typically handle installation, configuration, troubleshooting and maintenance to ensure optimal performance of networks, servers, and support systems. Again, if you’ve done this in the military, there will be a government department interested in your skills.
Frequently Asked Questions
Though underemployment is a problem, the Department of Labor says veterans outnumber civilians in four of the 10 major occupational groups:
- Management, business and financial operations.
- Transportation and material moving occupations.
- Installation, maintenance and repair occupations.
- Production occupations.
There are a lot of good jobs in all occupational groups. How to get one raises common questions.
Are there special programs for disabled veterans?
Veterans.gov is a good starting point to find a wide range of employment programs for disabled vets. Among them are American Job Centers, AbilityOne, Job Accommodation Network and Ticket to Work.
What is Veterans’ Preference?
As the name indicates, veterans get preferential treatment when applying for some government jobs in this program. Only honorably discharged veterans qualify, and the program does not guarantee veterans a job.
How do I prepare for civilian jobs?
There are a number of programs for transitioning into civilian employment, starting with the Transition Assistance Program (TAP). It’s a one-day workshop available 90 days before discharge. The Department of Labor has employment sites full of tools and information on special programs.
Are the programs available to help with resumes?
TAP is one of many programs that not only provide resume advice, they help get your résumé to prospective employers.
The VA’s Veterans Employment Center is another place to start. There are also many private organizations like Wounded Warrior Project and Hire Our Heroes that provide resume help.
About The Author
Tom Jackson focuses on writing about debt solutions for consumers struggling to make ends meet. His background includes time as a columnist for newspapers in Washington D.C., Tampa and Sacramento, Calif., where he reported and commented on everything from city and state budgets to the marketing of local businesses and how the business of professional sports impacts a city. Along the way, he has racked up state and national awards for writing, editing and design. Tom’s blogging on the 2016 election won a pair of top honors from the Florida Press Club. A University of Florida alumnus, St. Louis Cardinals fan and eager-if-haphazard golfer, Tom splits time between Tampa and Cashiers, N.C., with his wife of 40 years, college-age son, and Spencer, a yappy Shetland sheepdog.
- N.A. (N.D.) Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm#tab-6
- Hylton. S, (2021, November 9). Veterans in Labor Force: 6 Stats. Retrieved from: https://blog.dol.gov/2021/11/9/veterans-in-the-labor-force-6-stats
- Steinhauer, J. (2020, March 7). Veterans are Working, but Not in Jobs That Meet Their Advanced Training. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/07/us/politics/veterans-jobs-employment.html
- N.A. (N.D) Veteran Opportunity Report. Retrieved from: https://socialimpact.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/linkedinforgood/en-us/resources/veterans/LinkedIn-Veteran-Opportunity-Report.pdf
- Sobers, R. (2021, March 16). 134 Cybersecurity Statistics and Trends for 2021. Retrieved from: https://www.varonis.com/blog/cybersecurity-statistics