Best Jobs for Combat Veterans

Feb 20, 2018

Combat veterans bring a unique skill set to their civilian jobs. The excitement of their previous career also means that they often thrive in more non-traditional settings. Find out about some of the responsibilities and key career stats for jobs that could be ideal for for combat veterans.

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Life as a combat veteran is difficult yet exciting, and transitioning to a civilian job after deployment can be comparatively mundane. However, the skills one develops in combat are transferable to a many different careers. By carefully thinking about what they want and studying the available options, any combat veteran can find the career that is the perfect fit for them.

Job Title Median Salary 2016* Job Growth 2016-2016* Applicable Military Skills/Traits
Recreation Worker $23,870 9% Leadership skills, wilderness survival knowledge
Firefighter $48,030 7% Strategic thinking, ability to make decisions under pressure, physical fitness
Police or Detective $61,600 7% Leadership skills, ability to make decisions under pressure, weapon safety knowledge
EMT or Paramedic $32,670 15% Medical skills, ability to make decisions under pressure
Forester $58,700 5% Physical fitness, wilderness survival knowledge, critical thinking skills

Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Some of the Best Jobs for Combat Veterans

Combat veterans leave the military with a unique skill set that can be utilized within many careers. These skills are more than just the rough and tumble ones, but also involve strong leadership and critical thinking abilities. The following career paths all incorporate the skill set a combat veteran has developed, while also allowing for a level of excitement at the job. None of these are office jobs, but rather careers that get one interacting with the world in an active way.

Recreation Worker

A job in the outdoors can be therapeutic and allows one to give back. Recreation workers spend their days outside, leading groups and keeping everyone safe during outdoor activities. The activities can range from summer camp to backcountry exploration. Most jobs in outdoor recreation require a high school diploma and some certifications, including CPR. Some jobs will also require a bachelor's degree in outdoor education or recreation. Trainings like those offered via Outward Bound and the Rural Institute for Veterans Education and Research, are available to specifically assist veterans with turning exploration in the outdoors into a career.


Becoming a firefighter requires peak physical fitness and the ability to excel in stressful and dangerous situations. Combat veterans hone both of skills during their time in the armed forces. Gaining the credentials to become a firefighter involves training and studying at a fire academy and passing a series of tests. The tests can be difficult, but a military background tends to give individuals an upper-hand throughout this process. There are also a number of organizations, such as Veterans to Wildland, Leadership Under Fire, and the Paddy Brown Program, that are there to assist veterans transition into a career as a firefighter more smoothly.

Police or Detective

Police and detective work is in many ways the most similar civilian job to the work done by combat veterans while they are deployed. The jobs in this field require individuals to put their lives at risk every day, but despite the danger they can be quite rewarding. The education requirements vary greatly depending on the type of police or detective one aims to become. A county sheriff's deputy may only need a high school diploma, while an FBI special agent may be required to have a bachelor's degree. Special training at a police academy is usually necessary, and it is possible to utilize GI benefits to pay for this training.

EMT or Paramedic

Combat veterans who served as medics while deployed may want to think about using their medical training to gain a job in the civilian workforce as an EMT or paramedic. Individuals in this field are the first responders to healthcare emergencies. They need to be able to thrive and think clearly within stressful situations, and they're responsible for making split second decisions that could mean life or death. The training to enter this field varies, with paramedics typically being required to go through more school than EMTs. Some states accept military medical training as the prerequisite for entering this field. More information on veteran EMT and paramedic licensing can be found on the Department of Labor website.


Foresters work in a variety of capacities to oversee, maintain, and rejuvenate forest land. This is a great job for combat veterans who want to spend their days in the outdoors working with the land. The tasks foresters do include, but aren't limited to, the supervision of forest conservation and regeneration, the oversight of controlled burns and the use of bulldozers and herbicides within the forest, and the removal of downed timber. Most foresters are required to have a bachelor's degree in an area such as agricultural science, rangeland management, forestry or environmental science.

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