Veterans develop high-quality training, experience, and qualifications throughout their time in military service. However, veterans face some of the biggest roadblocks when transitioning out of service and into a civil career.
There are some industries and positions in the workforce that will better suit veterans because of the type of skills utilized. If you are switching to a civil career, these jobs might be a good place to start.
In this article we’ll discuss:
The challenges veterans might face in transitioning to the civilian workplace
The best jobs for veterans
What types of jobs are offered in different federal departments
Can you get a good job after the military?
Yes, being a veteran will open many doors for good jobs even in the civilian workforce. Veterans come equipped with excellent work ethics and breadth of knowledge. There is no reason to assume veterans won’t get a good job post-service. As with everyone, it takes a lot of effort, commitment, and follow-through to excel in your career. If anything, veterans are better trained for such a feat.
However, it’s important to know that many veterans face challenges during their transition into the workforce. It’s essential to look ahead and prepare for the difficulties you might face as a result of coming from the military.
The biggest problem for veterans after service
The military is more than an occupation; it’s a lifestyle. The military experience can be all-consuming, and while someone can be highly ranked or experienced in the military, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will receive the same accolades outside of the service. The transition out of service and into civilian life is a challenging feat for many veterans. One of the most difficult aspects is transitioning into a traditional civilian job.
Why is it difficult for veterans to get a job after service?
The main roadblocks veterans face when transitioning to the civilian workforce relate to experience and skills.
Relevant experience is important for any job seeker. Veterans might find that while they have excellent experience within a certain field, it might not be relevant for the position they’re applying for. In short, it might be tough to land the job over a civilian with more relevant experience. This is simply because the traditional workforce moves more linearly, whereas someone in the military might move around a lot, gaining experience wherever they’re most useful. The key is that the civilian will gain experience specific to their desired career route.
Similarly, many veterans find that the skills they gained from the military aren’t necessarily transferable skills. Skills are considered transferable when they are learned in one industry and can be seamlessly applied to a completely different industry. Examples include managing a budget, using a specific software program, or having excellent customer service. Oftentimes veterans find that they possess the skill, but that the language and mode of applications are where the difficulties lay.
Any veteran is capable of applying their experience and skills from the military to the civilian workforce. It just might take a little bit of time and practice to get it down. Prepare yourself for a bumpy transition, but also do what you can to stick with it. It’s almost guaranteed to smooth out once you’re more settled in your new role.
What are the best jobs for veterans?
Veterans have a high chance of success in a variety of industries. These are the industries that are most likely to have a lot of overlap in transferable skills from the military to the civilian workforce.
1. Law enforcement
Law enforcement is an excellent option for veterans for several reasons. Similarly to life in the military, working in law enforcement can affect someone’s lifestyle as a whole. There is a structure to law enforcement that many veterans might find familiar, and there is an overlap in the language and behavioral expectations between the two.
Depending on what kind of position you have in the military, there might even be parallels between the type of gear handled or the application of logistical tactics.
2. Information technology
Many veterans leave the service with expertise in information technology (IT). Not only will those skills apply to a wide range of civilian jobs, but IT is also a booming industry.
Military intelligence personnel will be great additions to any cybersecurity, software development, or systems analysis team once they’ve left the service. If you are currently in service and looking for a direction that will transfer well to civilian life, anything relating to IT is recommended.
3. Engineering and construction
Regardless of your branch of the military, there is a good chance that you’ve worked within an engineering or construction realm. Any military engineering experience can be applied to civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering after leaving the service. All of these are high-paying fields and desirable professions for civilians and veterans alike.
Construction is a diverse industry and can allow someone a creative outlet in their profession. Construction skills are readily applicable in niche fields, too. Perhaps you are called towards residential remodels, fine woodworking, tiling, or even art installations. Construction skills are one of the most diverse sets of skills out there.
Many civilians are intimidated by healthcare careers because of the schooling required. For veterans, they get a lot of training in the field. Healthcare is one of those industries where your military experience can give you a leg up. Not only do you have the expertise, but typically veterans also have real-life experience. Civilians whose training has been conducted in a classroom might falter under the real-life pressure of a medical crisis. This is often when veterans shine.
If you’re interested in entering the civilian healthcare field, try looking into positions such as a nurse, medical technician, paramedic/EMT, or physician’s assistant.
If you have worked in any logistics capacity, then you will be excellent in a management position in the civilian workforce. Plus, there are many courses available online to boost your skills and develop them to be more specific to civil jobs. Project management, supply chain management, transportation, and shipping and receiving are all positions that would suit logistics personnel well.
6. Aviation and aerospace
Many branches of the military have a need for aviation and aerospace personnel, so it’s common for veterans to possess those skills. Maintenance, technician, and logistics are all applicable roles.
What company employs the most veterans?
Hiring veterans is beneficial to many companies because of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). WOTC is a federal tax credit that incentivizes the hiring of active, reserve, and veteran military personnel. Because of this, there isn’t necessarily a leading company in hiring veterans as all companies benefit from it. However, some companies make public commitments to supporting troops through hiring practices, either by hiring veterans directly or even military spouses.
Walmart, Amazon, and JPMorgan Chase are all large public-sector companies that have programs in place specifically aimed at encouraging veterans to apply. Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are both aerospace and defense companies that highly value the experience and training of military personnel and actively recruit veterans.
How does military service look on a resume?
While an employer’s response to military experience is completely subjective, there is no denying that the skills veterans bring with them are valuable in any work setting. Veterans have an impeccable affinity for teamwork and adaptability, they often possess technical and problem-solving skills and tend to respond well to direction. All of these skills are in demand in the workplace and can be advantageous for veterans entering the civilian workforce.
There are also some potential limitations to hiring a veteran that you may encounter in your job search. A main challenge is how acclimated to civilian life the candidate may be. Leadership, communication, and expectations look different in a civilian job compared to military work. Employers will like to see evidence of an understanding of civilian workplace norms.
What federal jobs can I get after the military?
Federal jobs are a great place for veterans to search during their job hunt. The two most aligned with the military are the Department of Defense Civilian Jobs and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Both are directly related to the military and offer post-service employment.
If you’re interested in taking a more significant step away from the military, other federal departments will feel familiar but not similar. Here are some of the best departments for veterans.
1. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
Employment opportunities include law enforcement, cybersecurity, information technology, and emergency management.
2. Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
We all know them from airports, but the TSA offers even more positions. They employ security management teams, administrative roles, federal air marshals, and mission support.
3. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
You’ve probably heard of FEMA during times of natural disaster, like a hurricane response. FEMA embodies disaster recovery, planning, and logistics roles, and also participates in face-to-face public aid.
4. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
The CBP protects the nation's points of entry, for reasons of travel and trade. They employ border patrol agents, customs officers, trade enforcement, immigration agents, and agriculture protection. Some positions offer patrol positions, whereas others embody a more classic 9-5 platform.
5. Department of Energy (DOE)
Engineers and IT personnel will do great at the DOE. The DOE employs within the fields of science, cybersecurity, environment, and policy.
6. Department of the Interior (DOI)
The DOI encompasses the National Parks Service and Fish and Game, as well as other smaller departments. If your favorite part of your service was working with nature, the DOI is a great place to check. Jobs include public land management, park rangers, wildlife refuge management, and federal trust management.
7. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA)
Many intelligence agencies are operating in the US. They each offer their own focus, but the type of jobs are fairly similar. They include intelligence analytics, counterintelligence, cybersecurity, national security, and linguistics.
Veterans have skills that are applicable in many industries.
Some civilian industries will be particularly good fits for veterans because of similarities in leadership, communication, and logistics.
The federal government has a variety of positions available, which can be good career options for veterans.