It’s time to pop smoke. Get out. Hang it up and retire. Start the next chapter.
Whichever phraseology a service member uses, the bottom line is the same: he or she is preparing for a significant and life-changing shift from military service to life outside the gates.
Generally, the first thing on a transitioning military person’s mind is securing meaningful employment, which is why National Employment Director Jeff Hall has done his homework to find careers that are a natural fit for veterans. One career opportunity Hall said veterans might find particularly lucrative is a position as an operations manager.
“These folks basically ensure things get done and are always looking for ways to improve efficiency in the organization,” Hall said. “Just about every industry has them in one capacity or another. Veterans tend to do well there because military training and culture ingrains in us to always look for constant improvement.”
According to salary.com, the average pay for an operations manager is above $90,000 and Hall said these professionals should expect a growth of more than 240,000 jobs through 2022.
“Some of the top jobs require a college degree while others only require a certification and related experience,” said Hall. “The best advice I can offer is for transitioning members to start their research early and get whatever coursework or licensure they need well prior to making the leap to civilian status.”
Most successful candidates have a college degree but some companies may be willing to substitute experience for education, but Hall said higher education isn’t the only way to land a prosperous career.
“There’s a shortage of skilled craft work in our country today,” Hall said. “Professionals that know how to weld, have skills such as stone masonry or are certified electricians can potentially do very well. The average salary is more than $60,000 for these craftsmen.”
Hall said transitioning veterans who are interested in these types of jobs but didn’t receive related training from the military should consider going to a vocational college while still in uniform or use the GI Bill toward a technical education. One could also contact a company to ask about requirements.
According to Hall, approaching someone in a field of interest and asking for employment advice can be surprisingly helpful. “There’s a lot of goodwill extended to veterans and asking for a few minutes of someone’s time can lead to some great advice and possibly more. You never know what is possible if you don’t put yourself out there and ask,” he said.
More career options that are a natural fit for veterans are security and law enforcement related fields. This is true regardless of a veteran’s occupational specialty in the military.
“The very nature of contract security for the federal government lends itself to the employment of veterans and military members,” said David Welliver, Screening Partnership Program manager for Akal Security Inc. “Many of the [tasks] are driven by checklists, regulations and standard operating procedures. These are processes and tools that every military member is familiar with and using them comes naturally.
“When pairing this level of process familiarity with a veteran’s ingrained understanding of punctuality and attention to detail, you get an employee who is tailor-made for contract security. [Our officers’] experience and training in the military prepares them to manage critical tasks under pressure and that’s something you don’t find every day,” Welliver said.
Wherever a veteran’s interests lie, Hall said the important thing is to not feel like one’s future has been preordained by military service.
“There are many career options out there,” he said. “I tell veterans to not limit themselves and go after what you’re passionate about. I’ve learned that’s the best formula for success.”
Employment resources can be found at jobs.dav.org. If you know a veteran who is searching for employment or is transitioning from military service, please consider forwarding this newsletter to them.