14 Jobs That Are a Good Fit for Veterans

AJR_photo / Shutterstock.com

Military experience is a resume booster all its own. From the unique pressures of combat situations to the basic discipline required of even the newest private, those who’ve been in service have developed special skills that are useful in numerous civilian career fields.

Translating one’s military skills to a civilian career can be direct. If you’ve worked as a computer programmer in the Marine Corps, for example, it’s clear that kind of knowledge will help you land a similar job back home. But other jobs rely on less self-evident skills. The hard work and perseverance required in a military career can be tough to explain in a line on a resume, but those skills can help you navigate challenges in various careers.

Following is a look at just some of the jobs in which skills honed in the military can be a real asset. Data on median pay and projected job-growth rates are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Firefighter

firefighter putting out a house fire
Jackan / Shutterstock.com

Median annual pay as of 2019: $50,850 per year

Projected job growth rate from 2019 to 2029: 6%

Firefighters, like military personnel, need to be physically fit and willing to put themselves at risk in emergency situations. And there’s help out there for veterans interested in this career.

The nonprofit group Troops to Firefighters helps train, counsel and place veterans in these vital jobs. Additional programs, such as California’s Veterans Fire Corps, assist vets who want to pursue work fighting wildland fires.

Emergency dispatcher

Mircea Moira / Shutterstock.com

Median annual pay as of 2019: $41,910 per year

Projected job growth rate from 2019 to 2029: 6%

Police, fire and ambulance dispatchers, like military service members, must keep calm under pressure and communicate clearly and authoritatively. People in these positions typically have a high school diploma, and it isn’t unusual for workplaces to require additional training and certification.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has more on the training and path to emergency dispatcher jobs.

Police officer or detective

Houston police
Melvin Parker / Shutterstock.com

Median annual pay as of 2019: $65,170 per year

Projected job growth rate from 2019 to 2029: 5%

Much as military personnel serve their country under difficult and sometimes life-threatening circumstances, so too do police officers and detectives.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police notes that veterans who’ve served with military police or security forces have an especially applicable skill set, but other vets are also well-suited to the law enforcement field.

There’s help for interested vets out there. The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice, operates Vets to Cops, a hiring program for military veterans.

To learn more about how much you could earn in this line of work, check out “How Much Police Make in Every State.”

Security guard or gambling surveillance officer

Andrey_Popo / Shutterstock.com

Median annual pay as of 2019: $29,710 per year

Projected job growth rate from 2019 to 2029: 3%

Security guards and gambling surveillance officers patrol and protect property.

Security guards work everywhere from shopping malls to hospitals, and gambling surveillance officers work in casino settings. The energy industry also needs security workers, and the Center for Energy Workforce Development’s Troops to Energy Jobs initiative helps vets transition from active service to jobs in that field.

EMT or paramedic

LightField Studios / Shutterstock.com

Median annual pay as of 2019: $35,400 per year

Projected job growth rate from 2019 to 2029: 6%

Military medics deal with everything from broken bones to blast injuries. Yet the civilian world doesn’t always make it easy for vets to transition into medical jobs.

Emergency medical news site EMS1.com reports that colleges aren’t sure how to interpret medical experience from military transcripts, and state EMS offices have their own requirements for EMTs and paramedics that vets must meet. But there are organizations, including Virginia’s Military Medics and Corpsmen Program, that help smooth the path.

Licensed practical or vocational nurse

nurses
Spotmatik Ltd / Shutterstock.com

Median annual pay as of 20189: $47,480 per year

Projected job growth rate from 2019 to 2029: 9%

Health care is a common occupational field for active-duty enlisted personnel, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so transitioning to a civilian job as a licensed practical or vocational nurse is a natural change.

Some health care organizations, such as HCA Healthcare, focus specifically on veteran recruitment. And it’s not just vets they’re looking to hire: HCA has joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring 100,000 Military Spouses campaign as a founding coalition member.

IT jobs

Computer programmers
nd3000 / Shutterstock.com

Median annual pay as of 2019: $88,240 per year

Projected job growth rate from 2019 to 2029: 11%

The military is more reliant on computers than ever, and those who’ve honed their information technology skills in the service can expect to transfer them to private-sector jobs.

In both the military and civilian world, computer and information technology occupations vary, including computer support specialists, database administrators and information security analyst positions. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Cisco and other big-name tech companies have special programs focused on recruiting veterans, spouses and dependents.

Medical assistant

VGstockstudio / Shutterstock.com

Median annual pay as of 2019: $34,800 per year

Projected job growth rate from 2019 to 2029: 19%

Check out that 19% projected growth rate for medical assistant jobs. Workers in these positions perform administrative and clinical tasks in health care settings. Some are even able to enter the occupation with just a high school diploma, picking up the skills needed through on-the-job training.

As with other medical positions, a good place to start is with health care organizations, such as HCA Healthcare, which focus specifically on veteran recruitment.

Teacher

Teacher in a classroom
India Picture / Shutterstock.com

Median annual pay as of 2019: $61,660 per year for high school teachers; $59,420 for kindergarten and elementary school teachers

Projected job growth rate from 2019 to 2029
: 4% for high school teachers; 4% for kindergarten and elementary school teachers

This familiar bumper sticker slogan gets it right: “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” And the right training, leadership and communications skills learned in the military can translate into a teaching position.

Numerous programs exist to help veterans step in front of their own classrooms, including Troops to Teachers and Teach for America’s Military Veterans Initiative.

To learn more about how much you could earn in this line of work, check out “Here’s How Much Teachers Are Paid in Every State.”

Food preparation or serving jobs

Waitress
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com

Median annual pay as of 2019: $24,800 per year

Projected job growth rate from 2019 to 2029: minus 1%

The chow may be better once you’re out of the military, but someone still has to prepare and serve it, and that work doesn’t change much from military base to trendy bistro.

Plus, the flexible hours that food preparation jobs offer may allow veterans and their families to shift their schedules to care for children or attend school.

However, fewer people will be needed in the field of food preparation in the coming decade, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts. Although restaurant jobs will remain, a trend toward cost-cutting efficiencies is expected to reduce the demand for food-service labor.

Material-moving machine operator

sculpies / Shutterstock.com

Median annual pay as of 2019: $36,770 per year

Projected job growth rate from 2019 to 2029: 2%

The military, like the civilian world, will always have a need for those capable of moving people and things from place to place.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one of the most common military occupations is transportation and material-handling, in which service members transport military personnel and cargo. Specific jobs in that field, like cargo specialist, may include work similar to the civilian job of material-moving machine operators.

Truck driver

Man driving a tractor-trailer truck
welcomia / Shutterstock.com

Median annual pay as of 2019: $45,260 per year

Projected job growth rate from 2019 to 2029: 2%

Truck drivers keep the engines of commerce humming, delivering everything from car parts to groceries. The vehicles may be different than in the military, but driving skills sharpened in service are directly useful in civilian jobs.

Troops Into Transportation, a program of the CDL School, trains veterans to qualify for commercial driver’s licenses so they can get out on the road.

Heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment mechanic and installer

JP WALLET / Shutterstock.com

Median annual pay as of 2019: $48,730 per year

Projected job growth rate from 2019 to 2029: 4%

The job market for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment mechanics and installers over the next decade is expected to be solid, neither very high nor low. Veterans who worked in mechanical-repair positions in the service should find their skills translate well to these jobs.

Even without that background, training programs at technical and trade schools and community colleges can help prepare you. The Explore the Trades program helps veterans find training and work in the plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical trades.

Automotive service technician or mechanic

4 PM production / Shutterstock.com

Median annual pay as of 2019: $42,090 per year

Projected job growth rate from 2019 to 2029: minus 4%

Many military jobs involve work as a vehicle or machinery mechanic. In the civilian world, you are more likely to work on a Toyota than a tank, but the skills learned in military service should transfer well to jobs as automotive service technicians and mechanics.

General Motors is one company that supports a variety of training avenues — including local training at community colleges and other facilities and online training — to groom people to fill technical or non-technical jobs at GM car dealerships.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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