According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 250,000 military members prepare to transition to civilian life each year. This transition means that there are hundreds of thousands of professionals in need of non-military jobs and careers that can put the skills that they have honed from their time in the military to use.
Overall, about eight percent of the civilian noninstitutional adult population are veterans. That’s a significant percentage of the community. Ten percent of those veterans are women. During their time in service, these men and women have had the chance to use and develop skills related to leadership, management, attention to detail, and analysis, all of which can play valuable roles in a variety of civilian positions, as well. This training plays such a significant role that most military veterans understand they’ve received valuable skills training through their time in the service. The key is uncovering positions that will allow these professionals to transition easily to the civilian workforce. And excel.
Below, we’ve identified some of the best jobs after the military—12 particular career paths that hold tremendous promise for those entering the workforce after a military career. If you are a veteran preparing for a transition to a civilian job, see how your strengths and interest align with these potential career opportunities for veterans.
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1. Emergency Management
Emergency management directors help communities, cities and regions prepare for disasters and coordinate responses to help people following a variety of different types of emergencies. They might work with teams dedicated to natural disaster response, hazardous material spills, or even wars. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), those who make it to director positions earn a mean annual wage of just over $80,000.
The ability to operate well under pressure, exhibit leadership, and plan ahead for different potential outcomes all help to make people successful in this particular field. This aligns well with the traits that veterans offer, making this a good career option for veterans.
Military experience is not enough, however, to obtain a career in emergency management. To rise in the ranks of emergency management—and, in fact, for many of the career fields listed in this post—a bachelor’s degree is highly desirable.
2. Criminal Justice
The criminal justice field encompasses several different professions that help with maintaining law and order in society. Some of the most popular paths to consider include those of police officers and detectives. According to the BLS, police and detectives make a median pay of $65,170 per year.
As a police officer or detective, you will work to protect the people and property in your community. You will help investigate crimes by gathering facts and information about crimes to find the responsible parties. Becoming a police officer generally involves training through the police academy as well as on-the-job training.
Military professionals bring physical training, experience with teamwork, and a strong concept of law and order to the job, making them desirable candidates.
Nursing is a highly in-demand healthcare field that offers a wealth of opportunities for military veterans. Those who complete their BSN and pass the licensure requirements, such as taking and passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), to become registered nurses can make a median salary of $73,000 per year, and the job growth rate tracks much higher than the average position in the United States.
Nurses can work in a variety of areas within the healthcare sector, including hospitals, schools, and private settings. They need to possess a strong dedication to their patients, a desire to keep learning and improving, excellent critical thinking and communication skills, and attention to detail that can help them provide patients with attentive and meticulous care. Military experience benefits all of these traits, making this an excellent post-military career move.
4. Information Systems
Information systems offer tremendous opportunities for professional growth and development, making it an excellent career path for those who enjoy working with technology. Professionals typically begin in an entry-level position before working their way up to management opportunities. Those who do make it to the management level, with years of experience, have been known to reach annual salaries of $146,360, according to the BLS.
A minimum of a bachelor’s degree will be required to get started, although advancement opportunities are plentiful in this in-demand field, especially for those who demonstrate excellent analytical and decision-making skills. Those who have experience in the military, where their leadership and organizational skills were nurtured, will find this field to be one of the best jobs for military veterans.
Financial analysis jobs also can be one of the best jobs after the military to pursue. The required skills in analysis and confident decision making can align nicely with what veterans learned in the military. These professionals help people make stable investments and guide their financial planning to maximize their success.
This position generally requires at least a bachelor’s degree and may need additional certifications as well as on-the-job training. Those who become analysts can make a median salary of $85,660.
6. Government or Public Administration
Those who have served in the military are more likely to serve in the government or other public service positions than those who have not been in the armed forces.
Positions within the government can take a wide range of purposes, including managing different departments and working to promote the general welfare of people in the community. Candidates must demonstrate that they have the skills and understanding needed to navigate these positions. Superior communication and leadership skills can help those interested in pursuing these careers.
7. Defense Contractors
Defense contractors typically work with companies that help to create materials and equipment for national defense. These jobs might help with the building of airplanes, the analysis of data, or as a quality assurance manager. The experience that veterans have in national defense often makes them excellent candidates for these positions—experience and, of course, relevant training and education. Salaries for defense contractors can vary considerably, but the median compensation falls at $93,671, making it a lucrative field for many interested in remaining connected with the area of national defense.
Educators mold young minds. They have the opportunity to introduce students to new cultures and ideas, expanding their worldview and knowledge. Those who thrive in these environments will know how to take valuable information and then help students of all ages digest and understand it.
Education positions work well for veterans who enjoy working to better their communities. In the military, you have learned about protecting civilians and helping your community thrive. Education offers a means to continue this mission. According to the BLS, those who specifically decide to teach in elementary settings earn a median salary of $59,420—which, of course, will vary according to the certification and state in which they teach.
The manufacturing sector covers a wide range of occupations that allow people to work with their hands. These jobs work well for people who prefer to build and create over sitting at an office job. Everyone from materials manufacturing to the food industry can fall under this category.
Manufacturing jobs open many doors for those who have strong attention to detail and leadership traits that will help them continue to grow in the field. The average hourly earnings for those throughout the manufacturing industry were calculated as $28.64, per the BLS, but as veterans progress to become supervisors and managers, that typically increases.
10. Sale Manager
Sales managers will help to organize and orchestrate coordinated sales efforts on behalf of their teams. They can work in a variety of industries, from pharmaceuticals to technology.
Becoming a sales manager often requires a bachelor’s degree for most positions, as well as experience working in sales. These positions work particularly well for veterans who have tremendous confidence and leadership skills to make quick, well-balanced decisions. The ability to work as a team, develop strategies, and make decisions quickly in the field all help sales managers thrive. Those who reach the position of manager within the sales field can see a median salary of $126,640.
11. Management Consultant
Management consultants help to provide insight into areas where businesses can improve their operations and performance. They might work in a number of different types of industries, from IT to healthcare. Some consultants also help organizations with particular parts of the business life cycle, such as building higher engagement among employees.
Veterans entering the civilian job position will find that their leadership experience and their ability to see the big picture, while also paying close attention to details can help them thrive in this industry. Management analysts are reported to earn a median salary of $85,260.
12. Operations Research Analyst
Operations research analysts use their training and skills to analyze businesses, logistics, or other fields, helping organizations find weaknesses and solve their problems. They can help with supply chains as well as price setting or even creating work schedules.
Research analysts require close attention to detail and excellent communication skills. Those interested will often need to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and evidence of experience of working extensively with mathematics. Analysis requires not only sharp analytical skills, but also excellent math and problem-solving abilities. As an operations research analyst, veterans can earn a median salary of $84,810.
Veterans preparing to enter the civilian job market will find that there are a variety of career paths and types of businesses they can enter and achieve personal and professional success. If you are ready to take the next steps and pursue educational opportunities that will prepare you for the future, come and explore some of the programs we offer here at Post.
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Please note jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries expected from any Post University program. To learn more about Post University’s programs and their outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions representative.