Top jobs after the military: Transitioning back to civilian life


The day veterans hang up their uniforms for the last time is often bittersweet. On one hand, they’re free! They no longer have people telling them what to do, where to go, or how to do their job. On the other hand, they’re newly unemployed without anyone to tell them what to do, where to go, or what job to do next. Fortunately, veterans can find several stable, high-paying careers and jobs after the military that can help them transition from the military back to civilian life.

Project Management

Many veterans in leadership positions find that they are natural project managers. Their ability to identify a problem, create strategies to solve it, adapt to change, coordinate several moving pieces — while managing people, budgets and equipment — translate well to the business world. This experience often matters more than a business degree when it comes to leading and managing change in an organization. However, taking the time to receive the Project Management Professional Certification (PMP) will open career doors and help you demand the salary you deserve. On average, Project Management Professionals with their PMP certification earn 20 percent more than their noncertified counterparts.

Law Enforcement

Veterans are especially suited for careers in law enforcement once they leave the military. Many local police force offer preference to veterans who want to join. However, law enforcement careers are not limited to walking a beat or joining the highway patrol. Federal law enforcement agencies are especially keen on hiring veterans for the specific skills and security clearances they acquire during their tenure. In fact, many of these agencies have hiring requirements that only veterans possess. High paying, stable and safe, working for a federal agency fulfills a vet’s deep-rooted need to protect the community at large, without the battlefield mentality.

Heath jobs after the militaryHealth Care

Veterans work well under pressure. This ability to stay composed naturally lends itself to careers in health care. Registered nurses, dental hygienists, diagnostic sonographers, surgical technicians, and occupational or physical therapy assistants generally receive training at trade schools or specialized programs at colleges or universities. Most educational programs for these allied health care professions can be finished in two years. What’s more, demand and salaries are consistently high.

Related: How to market military experience on a resume and cover letter


Skilled Trades

Many veterans find that their technical skills directly translate to trades in the civilian world. For others with an interest in construction, Helmets to Hardhats offers an opportunity to apprentice alongside skilled electricians, plumbers, HVAC installation and repair technicians, and other construction tradesmen. The program requires no prior experience, apprenticeships are federally approved and last three to five years, and you are employed while you learn. Best of all, you are also eligible to receive Montgomery GI Bill benefits during your apprenticeship.

A veteran’s skills are unique to his or her experience in the military, but often lend themselves to the civilian world. Your nearby VA career center or Veterans Affairs office at your local college or university can shed a little light on how your specific experience can help you find a new career.

Education jobs after the military


By considering a teaching career, veterans can be a large part of solving the teacher shortage. Veterans can take advantage of their problem-solving skills to succeed as a teacher. The Department of Defense created the Troops to Teachers (TTT) program in 1993, in which counselors who are familiar with the teacher credentialing process in the veteran’s target state facilitate the education, certification and job placement process for eligible veterans. Financial assistance up to $10,000 may be available to those who apply within three years of separation from the military and who meet application requirements. There is no minimal education requirement to participate in the program.

Related: Teaching jobs and beyond: Career advice for Education majors

Options for veterans to pay for school

Veterans who are balancing school and work should know about employer-sponsored tuition reimbursement programs. Steven Rothberg, President and Founder of College Recruiter, says, “Just as the GI Bill Benefits were part of the compensation that the veterans received for their service, so is a tuition reimbursement program from an employer. Even small employers sometimes offer tuition reimbursement. Some will promote their programs in their job posting ads or on their career sites.”
If you can’t find any information about a tuition reimbursement program with a particular employer, ask a recruiter, HR contact or an employee who can find out. It’s possible that if the employer does not have a program in place, they may be willing to create one for you.

Author bio: Jeremy Silverstein is Vice President of Operations and Vehicle Dispatching at Veteran Car Donations. During the five years he’s been with the organization, he has become an expert in the industry and has handled tens of thousands of donated vehicles. 

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