Veterans have a variety of skills that are valuable outside of their military service. Discipline, hard work ethic, leadership, cooperation, loyalty, teamwork and responsibility are some of the many characteristics that former service members bring with them as they transition into civilian life.
All of these skills are ideal and in high demand. That may be one of the reasons why the rates of unemployment for veterans are lower than those of the general population. Military experience and skills are perfectly suited for a range of careers but there are a few that rise above the rest that are worth exploration.
While it may not sound glamorous, operations managers are highly valued by many military friendly employers and companies. There are many different kinds of management positions: business manager, general manager, plant manager, store manager, project manager, production manager and more. Job duties, responsibilities and requirements depend on the company and the specific role. Most management jobs require a bachelor’s degree and leadership experience which is a perfect fit for veterans.
Industrial production managers, for instance, make a median salary of $87,160 and direct daily operations for manufacturers or supply chain managers, who handle supply chain and logistics roles and help with inventory, distribution and warehouse assets. Construction program managers oversee construction projects and have a median salary of $83,860. An added bonus: many construction companies specifically recruit U.S. Army Engineers for these positions.
2. Customer Service
Customer service is the heart of any business. For veterans with excellent people and communication skills, it’s ideal. Most positions require only a high school diploma to get started. While the median annual salary is lower than some of the other careers on the list at $32,300, job growth is growing steadily and motivated customer service representatives are prone to move into supervisor positions. Expect to talk with customers regularly, provide information about services or products and anticipate putting people-pleasing and problem-solving skills to good work should unhappy customers need assistance.
3. Skilled Trades
Aircraft mechanic, HVAC technician, electrician, diesel mechanic, plumber, construction worker, welder, carpenter and auto mechanic are some of the many options in this category. This is the perfect option for a veteran who doesn’t mind rolling up their sleeves and working with their hands. Some veterans have experience maintaining equipment like tanks, cars or aircrafts in the military so mechanics is a natural choice.
Construction also presents a smooth transition for many service members. Plus, there are organizations like Helmets to Hardhats which helps connect veterans to construction apprenticeships. Many companies in this field are veteran-friendly and don’t require any additional training or education. Workers learn on the job and stay physically fit in this active career. The average salary is $33,430 but the skills learned on-site also have benefits for personal life. No need to pay someone else to fix a broken pipe or floorboard when you have the skills to do it yourself.
Veterans that are good with numbers, organizational skills and analysis might find that accounting is a perfect fit. There are many options beyond a personal accountant such as business or financial analyst, auditor, staff accountant, accounting manager and certified public accountant (CPA). Job growth is fast and, with a median salary of $68,000, motivated and entreprenurial parties may find it lucrative and even helpful for their own personal money management. A bachelor’s in accounting, business or another related field and a CPA certification are the usual requirements to get started in this field.
Teaching is a rewarding career path and a great way for veterans to pass on their wisdom and experiences to the next generation. The U.S. Department of Defense even runs a program, Troops to Teachers, to help veterans become certified public-school teachers. The decision between public and private schools does influence the salary but high school teachers make around $59k with middle, elementary and kindergarten teachers making a bit less ($54-$57k).
Healthcare is a growing field and natural fit for service members with medical experience. Many states allow easy entry for veterans with nursing experience in the military to carry over their knowledge as a civilian nurse. EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) are also in high demand. Military personnel with combat medic training may gravitate towards a fast-paced EMT career. Additional certification is necessary but can take as little as a year or two to complete. Other roles to consider are dental hygienist or assistant, occupational therapy assistant, radiologic technologist or medical lab technician.
7. Information Technology
Telecommunications and information technology (IT) are crucial fields in a rapidly-evolving and technology-driven world of today. Communications and computer systems aren’t going anywhere and there is a growing market for IT professionals. Veterans with leadership skills should consider a career as an IT program manager (median salary $96k) or project manager (median salary $81k). Other positions in the computer-drive sector are computer programmer, software developer, network administrator and cybersecurity specialist.
8. Law Enforcement, Security and Criminal Justice
These fields are a natural fit for many veterans who have sworn to serve, defend and protect. Jobs like criminal investigator, police officer, corrections officer, private investigator and security guard are a great way to continue to serve the community and maintain a sense of duty, responsibility and accountability. Ex-military personnel are an easy hire for security positions because they already possess much of the necessary training like self-defense, de-escalation and conflict resolution. For veterans who don’t mind extra training and education, police officer is another great option.
9. Federal Government
It’s no secret that government jobs have outstanding benefits and, although salaries vary widely depending on the job, most pay well. Veterans looking to take this route are able to attain government jobs through a special hiring process specifically for military and ex-military personnel that greatly increases the chance of being hired. Plus, federal government agencies love hiring veterans who already have government security clearances because it saves time and money. Homeland security, social work and technical and administrative positions are some of the job titles to look for.
10. Business Ownership
Veterans possess qualities which make them great entrepreneurs and leaders: driven, structured, responsible, loyal and respectful. That may be part of the reason why many go on to be successful business owners. While it may seem intimidating to imagine starting a business, it’s a very fulfilling and rewarding venture. The biggest benefit: you’re the boss! Plus, it’s not as impossible or confusing as many believe it to be. In fact, the International Franchise Association’s Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative offers significant discounts on franchise fees to make it easier for U.S. veterans to get started in business without the need to start from scratch!
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