Jobs for Military Veterans Without Degrees

Dec 01, 2017

Military experience is considered highly desirable in a wide variety of civilian fields for the skills, discipline, and personal qualities is cultivates in its service members. This article explores a few career paths for the military veteran who lacks a college degree.

A military background is often regarded as an advantage in the civilian world, even you don't possess a college degree. The military is associated with discipline, resilience, and physical and mental fitness; and, as you likely already know, hiring managers often give preference to veterans. Below are some specific careers in which your veteran status and the skills you developed during your service may give you an advantage.

Career Comparisons

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2016-26) Applicable Military Skills/Traits
Police officers $61,600 (for police and detectives) 7% (for police and detectives) Firearms proficiency; physical and mental fitness; commitment to community
Elevator installers/repairers $78,890 12% Mechanical aptitude; ability to tolerate discomfort and heights
Wind turbine technicians $52,260 96% Mechanical aptitude; ability to work in all weather conditions
Fitness trainers and instructors $38,160 10% Physical fitness; interpersonal skills; ability to motivate
Firefighters $48,030 7% Physical and mental fitness; ability to work within chain of command

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Police Officers

Police officers work with the public to enforce laws and maintain safety. Becoming an officer requires the successful completion of a full- or part-time academy (usually around 8 weeks long) and a probationary period. All law enforcement careers require physical fitness, proficiency with firearms, a willingness to work round-the-clock shifts, and the ability to maintain a cool head in stressful situations. As veterans demonstrated these skills for years during their service, law enforcement agencies are eager to hire them. Agencies show this preference in a variety of ways, including but not limited to: streamlining applications; offering incentive pay; adding automatic point bonuses on entrance exams; and giving service credit to retirement.

Elevator Installers and Repairers

These professionals install, maintain, and service elevators and other types of lift equipment like escalators and dumbwaiters. A maintenance or mechanical position in the military is an excellent primer for this field. This career requires mechanical aptitude; a willingness to work in cramped, uncomfortable spaces; and a tolerance of heights. These jobs are rarely affected by economic slowdowns that can hamper other construction and maintenance jobs, as lifts are complex machines whose smooth functioning is considered essential from both a convenience and a safety standpoint. Becoming an elevator installer/repairer requires the completion of a 4-year apprenticeship, and 35 states require licensure.

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Wind Turbine Technicians

As the name implies, wind turbine technicians (known also as windtechs) install, maintain, and repair wind power turbines. The same skills required of an elevator installer and repairer apply here: cramped conditions, great heights, mechanical know-how; additionally, you must be willing to work outdoors, in all weather conditions. As a windtech, you may have to be on-call during nights and weekends for emergency maintenance. Because wind power is such a rapidly growing field in the clean energy space, windtechs enjoy excellent job prospects with extraordinary growth potential. Becoming a windtech sometimes completion of a course of study at technical school, though many companies will provide on-the-job training after hire.

Fitness Trainers and Instructors

Fitness trainers instruct and lead individuals or classes in exercise activities. They may be freelance or affiliated with a specific gym. Unlike the other options in this article, gyms and health clubs are almost always indoors and are designed with an atmosphere of comfort and motivation in mind. Physical fitness is obviously a must here, as are interpersonal skills and an ability to motivate. 'Boot camp'-style high-intensity workouts are very much in vogue at the moment, and your status as ex-military may be attractive to fitness centers and potential customers. Becoming a fitness trainer requires different types of training certification depending on what program(s) you wish to teach: yoga, Pilates, Crossfit, etc. Usually at the very least, you will need to complete a training program lasting anywhere from a few days to several months.


Firefighters control and extinguish fires, and are first responders to any and all emergencies involving fire. This job requires enormous physical and mental fortitude, as well as an ability to work as a team, give and receive orders, and remain levelheaded in fast-moving emergency situations. While obviously a military firefighting background is ideal, many fire departments see any sort of veteran status as highly desirable given the above requirements. Becoming a firefighter requires successful completion of a fire academy (usually lasting a few months) and a probationary period with your department. Additionally, you will also usually need to obtain EMT certification if you don't already have it.

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