Government Jobs for Retired Military

Sep 06, 2018

Retired military service members may decide to continue working after leaving the military. The government is a good source for hiring ex-military personnel. We will explore government jobs that retired military can transition to with minimal effort.

Retired military service members have acquired valuable work experience that can be used to contribute to the growing need for top talent that is sought by the government. Government jobs may include those in law enforcement, research, and management. We will discuss a variety of positions, their duties, and any additional training required.

Job Title Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2016-2026)* Applicable Military Skills/Traits
Emergency Management Directors $72,760 8% Stress Tolerance, Communication Skills
Police Detectives $62,960 (police and detectives) 7% (police and detectives) Attention to Detail, Communication Skills
Judges $115,520 (judges and hearing officers) 5% (judges and hearing officers) Critical-Thinking Skills, Listening Skills
Political Scientists $115,110 3% Analytical Skills, Ability to Engage New Ideas
Correctional Officers $43,510 (correctional officers and bailiffs) -7% (correctional officers and bailiffs) Readiness to Face Danger, Emotional Self-Control

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Government Jobs for Retired Military

The U.S. Government Accountability Office published the Federal Workforce: Recent Trends in Federal Civilian Employment and Compensation Report in 2014 which stated that from 2004 to 2012, the federal government experienced a 14% increase in employees. This growth was due to the conversion of military jobs to civilian jobs that required higher skills and educational levels. Learn more about the careers from the table in the descriptions, below.

Emergency Management Directors

Emergency management directors work at an emergency management agency which exists in every state under the Department of Homeland Security Agency's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Retired military emergency management officers have college degrees and experience preparing disaster plans for emergencies involving acts of God (floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes), hostage missions, and technological operations such as hazardous chemical spills.

Emergency management directors determine how emergency crisis situations will be handled by developing disaster plans and training military troops on how to implement them. During emergencies, the emergency management director will set up a command center to control and monitor all actions, set up public shelters, and issue evacuation orders. To become a civilian emergency management director, one must have a bachelor's degree and extensive experience in disaster planning and emergency response, which ex-military emergency management directors have already acquired.

Police Detectives

According to in 2018, 62.78% of police detectives work in state and local government, while 31.35% work for the federal government. Retired military personnel who served as investigations officers conduct counterintelligence, cyber, and security threat investigations.

Police detectives perform investigations to determine the suspect responsible for the crime. They gather facts, evidence, and forensics from crime scenes and interview suspects, witnesses, and complainants. Prospective police detectives typically enroll in cadet programs for training. Past military experience increases the chances of being hired as a cadet.


All judges are employees of federal, state, or local governments. Retired military service officers with college degrees may have experience presiding over general, court-martial, and military tribunals as Judge Advocate General's Corps members (JAGs).

Judges administer justice in court by determining the liability of a defendant and sentencing them accordingly, if needed. They instruct the jury on whether or not evidence is admissible. Judges enforce laws, guidelines, and the statutes of limitations. They may also preside over wedding ceremonies. A law degree is typically required.

Political Scientists

According to the BLS in 2016, about 50% of all political scientists work for the federal government analyzing the impact of proposed changes in government policies. Retired military service members who served as Air Force Political-military Affairs Strategists and Marine Corps Billet Designator-Political Military Officers have experience recommending international agreements and treaties on foreign military affairs.

Political scientists analyze and study the operation and structure of political systems. They research trends, current events, budget changes, proposed policies, and social trends and then examine how each will affect government, businesses and our citizens. In addition to military experience, the retired military service member will need a master's degree or doctorate in political science, international relations, or public administration. Entry-level government positions are available with a bachelor's degree in political science.

Correctional Officers

State governments employ 50% of all correctional officers, while local governments hire around 37%, says the BLS in 2016. Retired military service members who served as a correctional specialist have extensive experience supervising military prisoners and providing security to a confinement facility.

Correctional officers are in charge of supervising inmates and enforcing law and order in the jail. Federal prisons require a bachelor's degree or up to 3 years of prior experience which retired military service members have. Prospective correctional officers must undergo training at an academy. The job outlook for this career varies depending on prison budgets, the number of prisoners jailed, and the lengths of prison terms.

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