The 10 Best Career Paths for Veterans After Leaving the Military
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Reentering the workforce after serving in the military can be a tough transition for former service members and their families.
Navy Federal reported in 2019 that more than 250,000 military service members transition into the workforce each year. One of the greatest anxieties for veterans is being able to find stable, well-paying work that honors the skills and experiences they've gained while serving in the military.
Christopher Plamp, the CEO of Hire Heroes USA, said his own experiences looking for work after spending 26 years in the Air Force inspired him to begin working at the organization.
"When service members leave the military, they may have a gap in their skills or might have never even had a civilian job before," he told Business Insider. "They might have never made a resumé, done a behavioral interview, or made a LinkedIn profile before. Hire Heroes helps them through this process, as well as connecting veterans and military spouses with companies that want to hire retired service members and their families."
In 2019, Navy Federal and Hire Heroes USA asked veterans nationwide what they value most in a civilian career, whether it be location, compensation, flexible hours, or working at a mission-driven organization. Both organizations then worked together to come up with a list of promising career paths for former service members. Business Insider then used Zip Recruiter to find the average annual salaries for each role.
Here are the 10 best career paths for veterans.
Healthcare was ranked as the best career path for veterans.
The healthcare profession allows veterans to use skills they may have learned in the military and channel them into a rewarding, mission-based, and lucrative career. Popular career paths for vets entering the healthcare industry include hospital operations and logistics, registered nursing, medical research, and administration (data, records, hospital functionality).
Average annual salary: $66,413/year
One in four veterans works in government or public administration.
Veterans gain valuable leadership skills while serving in the military, which can often translate to a successful career in government or public administration. With plenty of opportunities for career growth and flexible hours, veterans looking to enter this career path should consider applying for jobs in administration, program analysis, and public affairs.
Average annual salary: $45,647/year
Defense contracting offers competitive salaries and is popular among younger veterans.
Defense contracting involves creating materials that will help aid the various sections of national defense. Whether you're building weaponry or an aircraft, defense contracting work offers competitive salaries and is directly related to the military. Potential jobs in defense contracting could include becoming an analyst, an intelligence specialist, a contract management specialist, or a quality assurance manager.
Average annual salary: $74,533/year
Information technology jobs utilize skills potentially learned in the military and offer competitive compensation.
Information technology jobs are expanding year after year, so veterans may want to consider joining this career. IT jobs provide competitive salaries and a clear path toward career advancement. Popular career paths in the IT field among veterans include project management, systems engineering, cybersecurity, data analysis, and information security analysis.
Average annual salary: $54,495/year
Financial services careers work well for younger vets eager to enter an exciting and lucrative new career.
Financial services jobs are popular among veterans, with more than one in 10 younger vets placed in a job related to finance. Salaries are competitive, and popular career paths can range anywhere from being a financial advisor to a finance manager or accountant.
Average annual salary: $59,139/year
Education careers are best suited for veterans who believe in mission-based work.
For veterans who value mission-based work, a career in education may be the perfect fit. Most careers in education do require a college degree, and in 2019, it was reported that 13% of career-holding veterans end up in education-related professions.
Average annual salary: $41,515/year
Law enforcement careers can be comparable to military experience, making it a good career fit for many veterans.
One popular career path among many veterans is law enforcement. Skills and experiences learned in the military make veterans a valuable asset to any law enforcement organization. Possible law enforcement careers for retired military members could include becoming a police officer, a crime scene investigator, an emergency dispatcher, or a corrections officer.
Average annual salary: $56,427/year
Retail jobs offer flexible work schedules that may be particularly well suited for veterans.
Veterans working in the retail industry can enjoy working on a team as well as the benefits of flexible hours. Employment in retail is most popular among veterans aged 45 and older, and popular career paths include sales, marketing, and warehouse logistics. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, retail employees have become even more valuable.
Average annual salary: $25,519/year
Manufacturing jobs often don't require formal education, but they still offer career advancement and competitive pay.
The manufacturing industry is a viable career path for veterans without college degrees. While the average annual salary for careers in manufacturing as a whole is only $27,199, entry-level maintenance technicians reportedly make an average of $39,307 per year and manufacturing supervisors make an average of $58,129 per year.
Average annual salary: $27,246/year
Transportation or warehousing jobs give vets the opportunity to work with their hands and are well suited to their military experience and skills.
For veterans who prefer a more active, physical career path, working in a warehouse could be the right career choice. Plus, for veterans looking for work during the coronavirus pandemic, warehouses are in need of more employees in order to keep up with increased demand for essential goods.
Average annual salary: $26,749/year