5 Best Jobs for Veterans

Throughout their service, veterans make sacrifices in support of our country. Along the way, they learn various specialized skills and are shaped by the unique environments where they work. Servicemembers often have the opportunity to polish their existing talents and strengths in specific career areas while on active duty; naturally enough, they may be drawn to related jobs after the military. Others choose to take an entirely new route following their military service and pursue a personal interest or passion. If you are a servicemember planning for your transition out of the military or a veteran thinking about your career options, you may be wondering where to start. The best way to begin your career exploration is to do some preliminary research to identify jobs and industries that may be good choices for your post-military career.

To find out which jobs may be a good fit, consider your military work experience, review the academic programs required, pay special attention to your passions, and head in the direction that speaks to you best. There is tremendous potential for vet jobs in the workforce and these jobs can be found in a broad range of fields. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the 5 best jobs for veterans and the skills you will need to pursue them.

For Veterans, Educational Opportunities Abound

Just as there are myriad roles you can choose in the military — from communications to engineering — there are no “one size fits all” jobs after the military. Career choices are as varied as the veterans who make them. In fact, says National University Veteran Center Manager Karla Payne, what a veteran chooses to pursue professionally is unique, just like each individual. But there are some areas that seem to be a natural fit for some vets.

“We see a lot of veterans pursuing computer programs such as a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology Management, Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity, Bachelor of Science in Information Systems, and Bachelor of Science in Computer Science,” says Payne. She also notes the popularity of business management and civic service-related programs, such as those with a focus on homeland security and criminal justice.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports an important trend worth highlighting about jobs after the military. The unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time since September 2001— a group referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans — edged down to 4.5 percent in 2017. Additionally, the jobless rate for all veterans declined from 4.3 percent to 3.7 percent in 2017.

Those numbers are a clear sign that employers across the board are interested in the characteristics and talents that former military service members bring to the workplace. “Veterans, as a result of their military training, are typically punctual, reliable, and have good time-management skills,” says Payne. “They make great students and employees because they are dependable and focused.”

The 5 Best Jobs for Veterans After the Military

In many cases, the best jobs for veterans are the jobs that most resonate and align with their military experience. Often, the skills acquired during military service are the skills necessary for success in many civilian jobs, making the career transition a little easier to manage.

Let’s take a closer look at some potential options to consider as you plan your post-military career; they include jobs in business management, criminal justice, public administration, computers/technology, and entrepreneurship. We’ll also point you to the academic programs at National University that can help you reach your career goals. All of these programs are available online, on-campus, and some of them are even taught on base. The flexibility and accessibility of these programs can allow you to begin to work on your future goals while still on active duty or combine further education with your current work schedule or family responsibilities.

Business Management

Business management positions are specifically attractive to veterans because these jobs leverage many of the skills acquired during active military service. These skills include problem-solving, organization, conflict resolution, team leadership, and project planning. The BLS projects 5-9% job growth in business management jobs through 2026.

Academic Programs to Consider for Career Placement:

National University’s BA in Management provides you with a business-related degree that emphasizes managing organizations and personnel in a multicultural and global setting. You will analyze and evaluate management, leadership, and motivation theories to better understand how they impact the modern workplace and how you can apply those concepts on the job. You’ll also learn about the effects of legal, economic, and cultural factors on the conduct of global business.

Careers to Consider:

Business Manager, Facility Manager, General Manager (GM), Operations Director, Plant Manager, Plant Superintendent, Production Manager

Median Salary for Positions Listed:

Salaries for jobs related to business administration range from $40,000-$99,310 per year.*

Criminal Justice

Criminal justice jobs for veterans often focus on working in correctional facilities, in the courts, as an attorney, or as a law enforcement officer. Criminal justice administration jobs for vets have a greater emphasis on criminal justice policy, planning, and preparation, and may be a good fit for individuals who want to pursue a career that does not involve directly working with perpetrators or victims of crimes.

Academic Program to Consider:

The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration program at National University is designed to meet the educational needs of law enforcement professionals who are interested in professional development or career advancement. It prepares you for a challenging and dynamic career in the justice system at the local, state, and federal levels. At the completion of the program, you’ll be prepared for entry and advanced-level positions in teaching, training, private security employment, research, or employment as a consultant in the field. The program includes upper-division courses that cover basic forensic science, research methods, juvenile justice, corrections, criminology, leadership and management, civil and criminal investigations, court systems, and criminal law.

Careers to Consider:

Crime Prevention Specialist, Criminal Investigator, First-Line Supervisor of Corrections Officers, First-Line Supervisor of Police and Detectives, Homicide Detective, Probation Officer.

Median Salary for Positions Listed:

Salaries for positions related to criminal justice range from $50,000- $77,210 per year.*

Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The job of DHS professionals is to protect the citizens of this country from attack, at home and abroad. DHS employees secure the nation’s borders, airports, seaports, and waterways. They are also involved in developing and testing new security technologies. In addition to responding to terrorist threats, the DHS also responds to natural disasters.

Academic Program to Consider:

The National University Bachelor of Science in Homeland Security and Emergency Management program provides you with a foundation in security issues and practices, as well as the politics and cultural aspects of terrorism. Courses teach best practices for responding to pending emergencies, along with operations management during and in the recovery phase of an emergency. More importantly, the program focuses on developing well-rounded decision-makers with a background in leadership and ethics. You’ll conduct research on various government and private sector entities and report on suggested improvements in preparing for an emergency. The program prepares you to work in a variety of homeland security and emergency preparedness capacities such threat assessment, disaster management, and crisis response planning and management. You will learn to develop the ability to write emergency plans, implement and manage emergency plans, and assist decision-makers on recovery issues.

Careers to Consider:

There are many DHS divisions that provide opportunities for homeland security professionals. Career areas you can consider include immigration enforcement, US customs, and border protection, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and others. Potential jobs for veterans include border patrol agent, airport security administration, FBI agent, emergency management planners, or security agent.

Median Salary for Positions Listed:

According to PayScale.com, the average salary for jobs within the Department of Homeland Security is $75,000 per year.

Information Technology (IT)

Growing emphasis on technology skills in the military means that many vets can seamlessly transition into the growing market for IT and cybersecurity professionals. There is a critical need in both business and government for experienced professionals who can manage large, complex IT systems and protect against the growing dangers of cybersecurity attacks. The BLS projects 10-14% job growth rate in information technology jobs through 2026 – markedly faster than the average for other jobs.

Academic Programs to Consider:

The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science program at National University provides you with a strong technology background to begin an IT career or pursue graduate study in computer science and cybersecurity. Degree requirements include courses in object-oriented programming, data structures, operating systems, computer communication networks, software engineering, and computer architecture. The program features a rigorous academic foundation that is complemented by real-world programming assignments. Emphasis is placed on developing both the technical and design skills necessary to begin and enhance a veteran in his/her career.

National University also offers a number of graduate-level programs for IT professionals, including master’s programs in computer science, data science, and management information systems. More information can be found on the Computer Science and Information Systems program page.

The Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity provides you with an understanding of basic IT management concepts and fundamental security skills, as well as the legal and ethical issues associated with cybersecurity. Graduates are prepared for positions as security analysts, computer network defenders, and computer incident responders. Once you complete the core cybersecurity classes, you can choose a four-class concentration in Computer Network Defense or Digital Forensics. For more advanced professionals, National University also offers a Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance.

Careers to Consider:

Cybersecurity Analyst, Information Technology (IT) Manager, Technical Services Manager, Information Systems Director

Salary Range for Positions Listed:

The median salary for IT and cybersecurity jobs ranges from $40,000-$150,000 per year, according to Indeed.com.

Public Administration

When you hear the term public administration, you probably think of a federal government contractor or manager. But public administration jobs can also be found at both the state and local levels. In fact, some of the best jobs for veterans can be with local government, where civil service tends to be more people-oriented. On a state or community level, you could work with citizens and residents on behalf of local agencies, such as the public health commission. Public administration jobs for veterans are also found in the nonprofit sector, where you may have a role as director of development or an executive director. These nonprofit positions generally head up the advocacy, fundraising, and outreach efforts associated with the organization. Nonprofit work is an excellent way of combining administrative and leadership skills with a cause that resonates with you personally.

Academic Programs to Consider:

The National University Master of Public Administration program is designed to meet the educational and professional needs of individuals in the public sector who are interested in career advancement. You will learn to synthesize the theories of public administration, analyze the operations and procedures of public management and nonprofits, and develop skills in managing a public sector or nonprofit organizations. You will also apply the theories and practices of program and resource management, accounting, and budgeting. Additionally, you will learn how to collect and analyze data, conduct a literature review, write and explain findings, and present results orally and in writing.

Careers to Consider:

Community Health Director, Local Transportation Manager, City Director, Urban Planning and Development Director, Nonprofit Executive Director or Manager

Salary Range for Positions Listed:

According to Indeed.com, the salary range for jobs in the public administration sector is $50,000 to-$150,000 per year.

Entrepreneurship and Business Ownership

Veterans are no strangers to the world of entrepreneurship. In fact, Esurance co-founder Chuck Wallace served in the U.S. Air Force. Nike co-founder Phil Knight served in the Army. GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons is a veteran of the Vietnam War. CEO of FedEx, Frederick Smith, is a veteran as well. There are more than 3,000,000 veteran-owned businesses nationwide.

Many vets are so accustomed to leading others, that launching their own businesses in civilian life seems like a natural pivot. A recent Small Business Administration (SBA) study found that military service exhibits one of the largest marginal effects on self-employment, and veterans are 45% more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans. You may find that the unique skills you learned in the military will transfer into the entrepreneurial arena and offer you opportunities for interesting and fulfilling work. Being self-employed means you can take your great idea for a service or product and run with it how you’d like, on your terms, and the options for business ownership are diverse.

Academic Programs to Consider:

Of course, having a great idea is not enough, and additional education and training are generally required before you can successfully launch your own business. In addition to pursuing your Bachelor of Business Administration, it may be beneficial to incorporate a Concentration in Entrepreneurship. This concentration is designed to help you gain practical knowledge in launching, managing, or running a business. The concentration is aimed at providing you with the specialized knowledge of entrepreneurship, e-business, small business management, and running a family business. Completing this concentration enables you to compete in the marketplace for jobs after the military, or to start a new business venture. You will learn to identify the origin and development of entrepreneurship, analyze the concepts of risk-taking and innovation, describe marketing of goods and services, understand financial planning, and apply the basics of e-commerce through new and emerging technology.

Careers to Consider:

CEO, COO, President, Founder, Owner/ Operator, Partner, Director, Executive Director, Franchise Owner

Salary Range for Positions Listed:

Salaries vary widely depending on company size, scope, profit and loss, number of employees, market competition, and overhead costs.

The Best Jobs For Veterans Start with Academics and Support

No matter your branch of military service, rest assured that you have likely learned specific skills that will transfer into a career. We’ve touched on a few options available at National University, but with over 100 degree and certificate programs to choose from, you can explore many more career options that fit your unique interests. As a veteran-founded, military-friendly educational institution, National University offers courses online, on campus, or on base giving you the flexibility and options you need to make your transition work. Military tuition discounts, credit for military experience, and the Post-9/11 GI Bill are accepted, making an education both affordable and attainable. Additionally, you can enroll in four-week classes that offer convenient, flexible schedules, with year-round enrollment. There is also a work-study program that enables active-duty service members to take classes before they leave the military. Whether you are interested in earning your first bachelor’s degree or pursuing a graduate-level degree to advance your skills and future career, exploring our website is a good place to start.

The National University Veteran Center offers many services to help you meet the challenges that you may encounter when transitioning to civilian life or to the classroom. The center’s staff will support you throughout your academic journey and help you identify opportunities that foster community involvement, engagement, and leadership skills essential to running your own business.

To establish which program fits your personal path, an advisor or counselor works with you on a program estimate to clarify which classes to take, based on the program you select. Advisors will also take a look at your unofficial transcripts, guide you through placement exams, and help you navigate the application process online.

“Whatever vets need, we are here for them,” says Karla Payne. “What is nice is that we have class enrollment every four weeks. If it’s too soon to start school in November, you could begin in December or January. If you are transitioning out of the service at any time during the year, that enrollment flexibility and time allows us to gather official transcripts and help with paperwork. As a veteran’s center, our peer mentors will help guide you on how to apply for benefits and will help you submit paperwork through a student portal.”

Sometimes, advisors and mentors at the Veteran Center are just there to give a helping hand and direct you to on-campus or online services. “If you have to go to the library and aren’t sure where that is, we will even walk you across the street from the Veteran Center to the library, to personally to get you where you need to go,” says Payne. It’s all about support at every turn and step, to make sure you have the tools and confidence to achieve your goals.

While the programs and jobs listed throughout this post are especially popular with servicemembers during and after the military, remember that there are many more to choose from. To find out more about National University’s programs and services to help you explore jobs after the military, please visit the military admissions page of our website.

*Salary information is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics unless otherwise noted. Additional information on all careers listed can be found www.bls.gov.