Deciding what civilian career to pursue after leaving the military can be daunting, especially since it can mean starting fresh. Entry-level jobs in the fields listed below can be lucrative right away, and some offer programs that help veterans transition into the civilian workforce. These jobs also utilize skills that many military personnel develop during their service, making them great choices for veterans.
|Job Title||Median Salary, 2016*||Job Growth, 2016-2026*||Applicable Military Skills/Traits|
|Physical Therapist Assistant||$56,610||31%||Medical skills|
|EMT or Paramedic||$32,670||15%||Medical skills, ability to excel under pressure|
|Web Developer||$66,130||15%||Analysis skills, technology skills|
|Civil Engineer||$83,540||11%||Engineering skills, analysis skills|
|Firefighter||$48,030||7%||High level of physical fitness, ability to excel under pressure|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Entry-Level Jobs that Fit with a Military Background
The jobs that are performed within the military are as diverse as the people who enlist. However, certain skill sets, like the ability to excel under pressure or to quickly analyze the options available, are cultivated across the board. The jobs listed below take the skills instilled by the military into consideration, while also catering to a diversity of interests. Some are the civilian equivalents of military careers, which makes them an easy transition for veterans.
Physical Therapist Assistant
Military personnel who worked as medics during deployment may want to continue their career in healthcare once they join the civilian workforce. Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) work with physical therapists (PTs) to help patients recover after injury and illness. A job as a PTA is a great choice since it pays well but doesn't require the rigorous schooling needed to enter the field as a PT. Most jobs will require an associate's degree, which can be completed over the course of two years. Physical therapist assistants are also required to be licensed by the state, which means passing the PTA-level National Physical Therapy Exam. Military personnel trained in PT and other medical practices also have access to bridge programs that help expedite earning a degree for a civilian PTA career.
EMT or Paramedic
Another option for veterans looking to get into the medical field once they join the civilian workforce is to become an EMT or paramedic. These are the people who respond to emergency medical situations, and transport those in need to the hospital, providing medical care along the way. These jobs often involve situations where split-second decisions mean life or death, and are therefore well-suited for many military personnel. A high school diploma, CPR certification and some postsecondary education are typically required for entry into this field. For EMT jobs, the extra schooling required is a non-degree program that can last from one to two years. Paramedic jobs typically require an associate's degree. However, veterans have the upper hand thanks to bridge programs and the Veteran EMT Support Act of 2016, which aims to help fast-track military medics into a career as an EMT or paramedic.
The tech-minded veteran may want to think about a career as a web developer in the civilian workforce. Individuals in this field work on the backend of the internet to design websites that both function seamlessly and look great. Skills in coding and graphic design are required. The education needed to become a web designer varies depending on the specific job, and many in this field work as self-taught freelancers. The pay is often lucrative, so for veterans with the proper skill set, this is a great career choice that doesn't require one to go back to school.
Military personnel who worked within the engineering sector while serving can utilize these skills as a civil engineer. The engineers in this industry are behind the creation of the infrastructure that makes our towns and cities work. Not only do they design and build things like roads, dams, and sewage systems, but they also operate and maintain them. To gain entry to this field, a bachelor's degree in civil engineering or civil engineering technology is required. Some military service members receive this education as part of their job during deployment, while others will have to earn a separate degree.
A job as a firefighter can provide the excitement that some service members miss once they return to civilian life. The high level of physical fitness required and training in remaining calm during dangerous situations also make military personnel great matches for this career path. Anyone who received medical training during deployment has an upper hand when applying to become a firefighter, since individuals in this position need to be able to perform on-sight emergency medical care. A high-school diploma is the highest education required for entry into a fire academy. The training at a fire academy takes a few months and culminates in written and physical tests, as well as a series of interviews. There are several programs that help veterans become firefighters, including Veterans to Wildland, the Paddy Brown Program and Leadership Under Fire.