15 Best Jobs After the Military [2024 Career Guide]

By Joy Cromwelle
Updated on April 13, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
Ready to start your journey?

The process of pursuing jobs after the military can be both exciting and daunting. This transition marks a significant shift from structured military life to the diverse world of civilian employment.

Jobs After the Military

There are many resources available to support former military members in navigating through this important phase and finding the best jobs after the military. This guide aims to provide insights and to point you toward practical tools that can help you identify and secure a civilian career that aligns with your skills and interests.

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Read on to explore the variety of post-military employment opportunities.

Careers After the Military

As you transition from military to civilian life, the skills you’ve honed in the service—leadership, discipline, and technical prowess—can align well with various civilian jobs.

Let’s look at a range of positions that could be suitable for veterans, regardless of educational background. The included median salaries are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Select the program that most interests you to jump to that section of the guide:

The program that’s best for you will depend on your personal interests and professional goals.

Sales Manager

sales manager presenting computation to clients

Annual Median Salary: $130,600

The role of a sales manager can be a compelling career choice for those transitioning from the military to civilian life. This dynamic role offers the satisfaction of meeting targets and leading a team, mirroring the camaraderie and mission focus of military life.

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The leadership, discipline, and strategic planning skills you may have developed are invaluable in driving sales teams to success. Building on these skills with a degree in business or marketing can help pave the way.

Software Engineer

software engineer working on a project

Annual Median Salary: $127,260

For those leaving military service, a career in software engineering offers a new context for innovation and problem-solving. Your analytical skills and discipline could apply to coding and developing software solutions.

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Completing coding bootcamps or earning a computer science degree could help translate your tactical acumen into tech prowess. It’s an engaging way to continue making an impact, now through technology and creativity.

Information Security Analyst

Information Security Analysts checking data

Annual Median Salary: $112,000

After military service, stepping into the role of an information security analyst could be a strategic move. This position utilizes your analytical skills and vigilance, key traits that are often sharpened in the military.

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Gaining a certification in cybersecurity or a related field can bridge your defense experience with protecting digital assets. It’s an opportunity to defend against cyber threats, applying your tactical mindset to the digital realm.

Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical Engineers inspecting parts

Annual Median Salary: $96,310

Ex-military members often thrive as mechanical engineers, where problem-solving and technical skills come into play. This role involves designing, developing, and testing mechanical devices.

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Pursuing an engineering degree can help leverage your military experience into a fulfilling career in innovation. This path combines creativity with precision, and it’s a strategic option for those who love to see their ideas take shape.

Personal Financial Advisor

Personal Financial Advisor congratulating his clients

Annual Median Salary: $95,390

If you’re preparing to transition from military life to a civilian role, you might consider a career as a financial advisor. This position draws on your discipline as well as your ability to strategize.

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You could pursue a financial planning certification to help transform your military precision into advising on financial security. It’s a way to guide others toward achieving their financial goals, leveraging your structured approach to problem-solving.

Project Management Specialist

Project Management Specialist meeting with his colleagues

Annual Median Salary: $95,370

In the civilian workforce, former service members often excel as project management specialists. If you have leadership skills and a knack for strategic planning, this field may be a good fit.

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Earning a certification in project management can help you translate your military experience into managing projects across various industries. It’s a dynamic way to continue leading teams and driving success.

Registered Nurse

Registered Nurse checking a patient

Annual Median Salary: $81,220

Ex-military personnel may discover a rewarding pathway as registered nurses. This career capitalizes on many veterans’ proven ability to remain composed in stressful situations. In this field, you could also apply your commitment to aiding those in need.

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Obtaining a nursing degree or certification helps you build on your military skills in order to meet healthcare demands. The nursing field offers a meaningful opportunity to keep serving, now in the realm of healthcare.


Logistician calling a supplier

Annual Median Salary: $77,520

For those transitioning from the military, a career as a logistician offers a chance to apply strategic planning and efficiency skills honed during service. This role involves managing supply chains and ensuring resources are where they need to be, on time.

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Gaining a certification in logistics can help you build on your military experience for civilian success. This pathway allows you to continue making impactful decisions, now on a global scale.

Police Officer

Police Officer in New York

Annual Median Salary: $69,160

When transitioning into civilian life, former military personnel often find a natural fit as police officers, where discipline and leadership skills are highly valued. Your background in handling high-pressure situations uniquely equips you for the diverse scenarios faced on the job.

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Pursuing this path involves police academy training, an environment where your experience with high-pressure situations can shine. It’s a rewarding way to continue serving and protecting the community.

Human Resources Specialist

Human Resources Specialist explaining to an employee

Annual Median Salary: $64,240

Moving from military to civilian life opens doors to many opportunities, and becoming a human resources specialist is one of the ways to utilize your leadership and people skills.

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Earning a degree or certification in HR can help transform your military experience into valuable assets for managing personnel. Plus, nearly every sector requires employees with expertise in communication and human resources.


Electrician inspecting wires

Annual Median Salary: $60,240

If you’re transitioning from the military to civilian life and have a talent for electrical work, you might consider a career as an electrician. This position could leverage your knack for problem-solving in a practical way.

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You can start with vocational training or an apprenticeship to gain expertise in installing, maintaining, and repairing electrical systems. It’s a hands-on career path with a bright future, strategic for those used to tackling challenges.

Computer Support Specialist

Computer Support Specialist checking the codes

Annual Median Salary: $59,660

If you’re coming from a military background and have a thing for technology, stepping into the role of a computer support specialist could be a strategic move. Problem-solving skills and a knack for assisting others could be essential in this role.

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You could kick off this next step in your professional journey with IT certification courses. This specialized training could help prepare you for a tech support career, keeping you at the forefront of the digital world.

HVAC Technician

HVAC Technician

Annual Median Salary: $51,390

Stepping into the role of an HVAC technician can be a rewarding career move for veterans who have a military background working with machinery or complex systems.

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Training programs and certifications can help translate your skills into the civilian sector, where you can specialize in installing, maintaining, and repairing heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems. This hands-on career allows you to solve practical problems in living and working spaces.

Automotive Technician

Automotive Technician working

Annual Median Salary: $46,970

If you’re interested in cars and have a knack for fixing things, you might consider becoming an automotive technician. Your military experience has likely given you the problem-solving skills and discipline that’s essential for this hands-on job.

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Pursuing a certification program or an apprenticeship could help you get started. This pathway allows you to work with your hands and see the results of your hard work every day.

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

Emergency Medical Technician in an ambulance

Annual Median Salary: $36,680

Transitioning into an emergency medical technician role could be a natural next step for veterans. Your military experience in high-pressure situations may prepare you well for the calm and quick decision-making required in emergency medical services.

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Certification courses are direct and practical, equipping you to make a significant impact in the community. An EMT is on the front lines, saving lives and providing critical care when it matters most.

Value of Military Experience: Understanding Your Skills and Interests

military going home after rendering service

As you transition from military to civilian life, understanding the value of your military skills in the civilian job market is essential.

Leadership, discipline, and problem-solving are among the top skills you’ve likely mastered in the service, and they are highly sought after by civilian employers. According to Military OneSource, it’s crucial to not only list your military roles for potential employers but also to articulate how these skills contribute to potential success in civilian positions.

Here are some examples of how you could translate your military skills into civilian terms:

  • Leadership. You can demonstrate how you’ve led teams, managed projects, or made critical decisions under pressure. These experiences are directly applicable to leadership and management roles in any industry.
  • Discipline. You can highlight your commitment to tasks, your organizational skills, and your ability to meet deadlines consistently.
  • Problem-solving. You can share specific instances where you’ve analyzed complex situations, devised strategic solutions, and executed plans that led to successful outcomes.

Veteran career resources can assist you in translating your skills to the civilian workforce. Utilizing self-assessment tools and seeking out relevant training or certifications can help you further align your military experience with the best jobs for veterans after the military.

Choosing Your Post-Military Career Path

Here are some steps to help you choose which post military jobs could be right for you:

  • Reflect on your military experience. Think about what you enjoyed most in your service. Was it the technical skills, leadership roles, or teamwork? This reflection can guide you toward similar roles in civilian life.
  • Consider your preferred lifestyle. Do you prefer a structured environment like the military, or are you seeking more flexibility?
  • Assess training or education needs. Evaluate what additional training or education you might need for your desired career. Many civilian fields value military experience, and some may require minimal additional training.
  • Explore career resources for veterans. Career guidance resources designed for veterans can help you match your skills and interests with the right career opportunities.

It’s beneficial to find a path that not only capitalizes on your strengths but also brings personal and professional fulfillment.

Strategies for Securing a Civilian Career

You might consider these steps when transitioning from military to civilian employment:

  • Translate and highlight skills. Your Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) document can help you prepare your resume and explain your service occupations in civilian language.
  • Leverage resources for transition. You can access the Department of Labor’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) for resources, training, and personalized support during your transition.
  • Expand your network and education. You can pursue further education using GI Bill benefits, and you can build your professional network through job fairs and networking platforms.
  • Adapt and prepare. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, understanding the differences between the military and civilian workplaces is crucial for a successful transition.
  • Utilize job resources: There are many job search resources available. For example, the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development offers resources, training, and support for veterans interested in starting and growing a business. Meanwhile, Feds Hire Vets and USAJOBS each provide job portals specifically for veterans interested in federal employment.

By leveraging the resources available to you, you can effectively pursue a civilian career that suits your skills and preferences.

Advancing Through Education

woman searching for bachelor’s degree options

Deciding whether to pursue a bachelor’s degree after your military service often depends on your career goals and the field you’re interested in. A college degree can open doors to various opportunities and is necessary for certain careers.

As a veteran, you have access to valuable education benefits that make higher education more affordable. For instance, the GI Bill can help cover tuition and school fees. There are also veteran-specific scholarships you can explore. Additionally, filing the FAFSA can help determine your eligibility for federal and state aid.

If your career aspirations don’t require a bachelors, you might consider pursuing training programs and certifications. These options are often shorter and more focused, helping you develop the specific skills needed for certain industries.

Are There Special Employment Programs for Former Military Members?

Yes, there are special employment programs for former military members, including:

  • Veterans’ Preference. Eligible veterans have hiring preference for federal government jobs.
  • Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E). This VA program helps veterans with service-connected disabilities prepare for, find, and maintain employment.
  • Troops to Teachers. This program helps veterans begin careers as licensed teachers in K-12 schools.
  • Hiring Our Heroes. This initiative offers job fairs, fellowships, and workshops for veterans.
  • SkillBridge. This program helps service members gain civilian work experience through specific industry training, apprenticeships, or internships.

These programs, among others, help veterans enter into a diverse range of civilian career fields.

What Educational Benefits Are Available to Help Ex-Service Members Transition?

Educational Benefits Available to Ex-Service Members

Some of the highest paying civilian jobs after military require some form of additional education or training. Fortunately, ex-service members have access to a range of educational benefits to help their transition into civilian life, often prompting the question, “How long do you have to be in the military to get free college?” The answer varies, but these benefits are designed to make higher education more accessible for those who have served.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers tuition and fee coverage for degree and certificate programs as well as housing and book stipends. For those with service-connected disabilities, the Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) program can provide additional support, including help with tuition costs and living expenses.

State-specific education benefits are also available, often providing extra support or tuition waivers. You can also explore jobs after the military with no degree, instead pursuing vocational training or certification in a specific industry.

Exploring Jobs for Former Military Members

Jobs for Former Military Members

As you search for the best jobs after the military, remember that your unique skills and experiences are highly valued and applicable in the civilian workforce.

Furthering your education can also be a strategic step in transitioning into ex military careers. Pursuing certificate or degree programs, like an online military science degree, could help you develop specialized skills for your preferred position. These educational opportunities can unlock new career paths as well as enhance your existing skills.

The sooner you start exploring accredited universities, the sooner you may find a program that aligns with your professional interests.

Ready to start your journey?