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GI Bill Benefits for Ten Fastest Growing Occupations

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Question:
What are the fastest growing occupations? How much education is required? Will the Post 9-11 GI Bill pay for my education in these occupations? I am thinking of retiring from the Army and remain unsure of exactly which career path I should pursue. Looking forward to your comment, Charles.

Answer:
Charles, these challenging economic times still provide opportunities and growth. Whether service members are considering retirement like you or simply looking forward to finishing their initial commitment, now is the time to plan for your future following military service. A good place to begin is to visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.The employment outlook for various career fields and jobs is readily available for easy comparison. Your GI Bill benefits are a valuable asset to help you prepare for an occupation.

Occupations With Highest Percent Change in Total Employment, 2008-2018

Often soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen considering a return to civilian life are confused by the plethora of career training opportunities available in the civilian sector. My consistent advice is to follow your passion. However, many soldiers remain unsure how they want to earn a living in this challenging economy. Entering the Bureau of Labor Statistics databases, I found their projection for the fastest growing positions along with the education required and the expected salary range nationwide through the year 2018. Those occupations are:

1. Biomedical engineers, undergraduate degree, very high salary
2. Network systems and data communications analysts, undergraduate degree, very high salary
3. Home health aids, On the Job Training, very low salary
4. Personal and home care aides, On the Job Training, very low salary
5. Financial examiners, undergraduate degree, very high salary
6. Medical scientists, except epidemiologists, PhD, very high salary
7. Physician assistants, Masters Degree, very high salary
8. Skin care specialists, vocational training, low salary
9. Biochemists and biophysicists, PhD, very high salary
10. Athletic trainers, undergraduate degree, high salary

Every well paying position above requires some level of education. Your GI Bill benefits are valuable and before you decide to use them, do at least the same amount of research that you would do before buying a new vehicle or house. Military veterans spend both time and money to acquire skills and education; carefully chose the path that provides the greatest return on investment both personally and financially.

Post-9/11 GI Bill Does not Cover all Education

In many cases, positions like home health aids and personal and home care aids require little formal education. On the job training may well suffice. These positions are great if you want to explore if healthcare is for you. The Post 9-11 GI Bill requires enrollment in a program leading toward a degree so if you pursue a position as a healthcare aid you may be unable to use your GI Bill but overall cost of training is generally low.

Ask yourself if the occupation you are considering is worth what the GI Bill pays. Unless you are determined to follow the starving artist route (a good course of action for some), research career fields. If taking care of people is the reason for your decision to pursue healthcare perhaps you should enroll in training as a nurse or technician which pays higher wages. For example, entering an occupation with high qualifications also provides more options for the future when individual goals and abilities may change.

Some occupations such as Dental hygienist, which ranks in the top 15 on this list, require an associates degree yet salary ranks in the very high category. Don't be intimidated by education, biomedical engineers rank in the very high salary range with an undergraduate degree. Consider your future and then learn about what attracts you. Always research the options.

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