Best Colleges Degrees for Veterans

Jan 02, 2019

Veterans are dedicated people who are highly trained to handle stressful, sometimes life or death situations while staying calm and thinking critically. Coupled with a degree, these skills can help a candidate stand out in an ever more competitive job market. Below are several degrees that can prepare military veterans for careers that use the skills they developed and honed during their service.

Degree Comparison

People with a military background often do well in high-stress, time-sensitive environments and can adapt to changes efficiently. Someone with these skills might pursue a degree in one of the following areas:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Nursing
  • Fire Science
  • Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Education

Degree Overview

Military personnel are trained to be strong physically and mentally, respond quickly and effectively in emergencies and demanding situations, be calm and confident, and be able to lead others when needed. Transitioning from military to civilian life can sometimes be difficult, so it is beneficial for a veteran to move to a career that fits their skill set after their service. The degrees we'll discuss can put the training and skills acquired in the military to good use.

Degree Description

Criminal Justice

Perhaps one of the smoothest transitions for a military service member, a degree in criminal justice can prepare a veteran for a career in law enforcement. Often, the qualities that make a great soldier can make a great law enforcement officer. A degree in criminal justice along with military experience can help a candidate stand out and advance in the field. Programs in criminal justice are available at the associate's and bachelor's level and can be found on campus or online, which offers more flexibility. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), law enforcement workers are expected to see a job growth rate of 1% from 2016-2016.


Military veterans may have had to deal with emergency medical situations during their service. A degree in nursing can prepare a veteran for a career that is forecast to grow 15% from 2016 through 2026 (BLS). Nursing programs are offered at a variety of schools in both on-campus and online formats. Veterans have the option of pursuing an associate's degree, a bachelor's degree, or a nursing program diploma. While the bachelor's program typically requires four years of study, those enrolled in an associate's program or a nursing program usually finish in two to three years.

Fire Science

Fire fighting is another career that often involves emergency situations that require quick decisions and excellent physical shape to control fires and save lives. Though firefighters don't necessarily need a degree to obtain employment in the field, a degree in fire science could help a potential candidate stand out. Job growth in this field is expected to be about average at 7% through 2026, per the BLS. An associate's degree program is the most common for this field (though bachelor's programs are available) and can be completed in two years. Veterans can find programs in fire science online and in traditional on-campus settings.


Though this career may take years of additional training, a veteran adept in technology may find a good fit in engineering. According to the BLS, careers in architecture and engineering are forecast to grow by 7% during the 2016-2026 decade, which is on par with the national average for all occupations. An engineering degree program can prepare a veteran for work in areas such as petroleum, biomedical, chemical, electrical engineering and more. Schools offering engineering programs are readily available at the associate's and bachelor's levels. Programs are also available online, which allows more flexibility for someone with a busy schedule.

Computer Science

Though a broad field that encompasses many different career paths, many jobs in this field would be a great fit for a veteran who had previously held a position in the military working with computers. With a degree in computer science, a veteran could pursue a career in programming, database engineering, cyber security, network or systems administration, among others. Careers in computer and information technology are expected to grow by 13% through 2026 (BLS). Programs are offered at both the associate's and bachelor's level and are available on-campus or online, which can be a better fit for currently employed veterans.


A career that may not come to mind at first, teaching is an important part of all military careers. Veterans can use their critical thinking and patience to pass on knowledge to students and also keep control in tough situations. Teachers for grades K-12 usually require at least a bachelor's degree or higher to secure a position. Four-year bachelor's degree programs in education can be found online and on campus. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in this field are projected to grow at an average pace through 2026.

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