Whether your military career lasts two years or forty years, there comes a time when you must transition from the military world to the civilian world. The military transition can be traumatic, especially if your military career has been lengthy, and you have enjoyed the camaraderie and discipline of military life. Service members with especially long careers may be able to retire, live near a military base around other retired military personnel, and never have to concern themselves with working as a civilian.
However, the majority of service members who are discharged or retire must transition into a civilian career. If you are among those who will be seeking employment in the civilian world, there are a few programs available to assist you with this transition.
What Military Programs Assist in the Military Transition to Civilian Life?
Transition Assistance Program (TAP)
The TAP was created to assist service members, their spouses, and dependents make the military transition to civilian life. There are Transition Offices at most military installations and the separating service member should make an appointment approximately 12 months prior to their separation date. TAP is broken up into 4 workshops.
- Department of Defense Preparation Counseling
- Department of Labor Employment Workshop
- VA Benefits Briefing
- Disabled Transition Assistance Program
Once all of the workshops are completed, the service member may attend one on one counseling if needed.
Troops to Teachers
The Troops to Teachers program was created to assist eligible service members who are interested in pursuing teaching careers after their military careers. This program helps vets become teachers in school districts in need of teachers as well as those that support a large portion of low-income families.
- The Troops to Teachers program is primarily a referral and counseling service in that it assists potential teachers in deciding which type of teaching to pursue as well as pinpointing the areas in the country that are in need of teachers
- Stipends of up to $5,000 are available to participants in the program who agree to teach in a "high need" area for at least 5 years
- Bonuses of up to $10,000 are available to participants in the program who agree to teach in a "high need" area for at least three years when the area has a high percentage of students from low-income families
If you are interested in this program, contact your nearest DANTES office to find out if you meet eligibility criteria. DANTES offices are located at most major military installations. You may find out that you need to take a few college courses in order to qualify, as well as if you are able to pursue them through an online education program while on active duty.
What Veterans Jobs Utilize Skills Taught in the Military?
Just about any civilian career utilizes the skills you have been taught in the military. Regardless of the rank you achieved, or how long you served, there are attributes you now have that many of your civilian counterparts may never achieve such as:
- The ability to work as part of a team
- Problem solving under extreme stress
- Leadership during difficult conditions
Any civilian career that might benefit from these traits would be a good fit for a military veteran. Some of the more popular industries, fields, and careers for veterans include:
- Law Enforcement
- Defense Industries
- State and Federal Government
- Project Management
Veterans are highly sought after by many civilian employers in all fields due to the attributes they bring to the position and the company.
What Work Environments are Best for Veterans?
The military teaches service members discipline, structure, and working within a hierarchy. Many veterans who have worked in this environment for years have come to embrace it, and would be uncomfortable working in a more casual atmosphere. If you feel that you fall into this category, you might look into employment with a larger corporation or a government agency, both of which usually have distinct chain of commands and strict policies.
On the other hand, if during your military service you felt that the strict structure stifled the creative and free thinking side of your personality, you might want to look in a different direction. Working for a small company, or starting your own small business might allow you to express yourself more freely in a casual atmosphere.
What are Common Graduate School Options for Veterans?
One of the more popular graduate degrees sought by veterans is a Master of Business Administration (MBA). The attributes that are taught service members while on active duty are highly sought after by companies in the business world. An MBA teaches many of these same fundamentals such as:
- Problem Solving
Veterans have an advantage over their civilian counterparts while pursuing an MBA, as they have already learned most of these traits in a military environment, and simply need to learn how to translate them to a business environment. Veterans also have an advantage after earning their MBA, as employers know that their is no civilian equivalent for the training they received in the military.
Many service members pursue their MBA while still on active duty using military education benefits to attend classes at night or by pursuing an online degree programs. Veterans may also use their military education benefits to earn their MBA.
Veterans also pursue master's programs in the field of study of their undergraduate degree. Having a graduate degree often gives veterans jobs that offer higher salaries, and many graduate degrees offer the convenience of online education.
What are Some Tips for Creating Resumes and Going on Interviews?
The Transition Assistance Office can be of great help when creating a resume. The key to creating a strong resume is showing how your military training will translate to the civilian world and help your prospective employer when you are hired. A few tips:
- Keep it brief. A resume shouldn't be over 2 pages
- Make sure it is legible. Use a good printer and an easily read font
- Demonstrate your value. Show how you will help the company
- List your career goals. Show you are ambitious
- Proofread. Don't let a prospective employers see errors on your resume
The Transition Assistance Office can be of help when preparing for an interview also. A few interview tips:
- Be on time. Don't keep the interviewer waiting
- Prepare. Do some research on the company and the position being filled
- Be professional. Dress appropriately for the position being filled
- Follow up. Call the company within a few days of the interview to show you are interested
- Be direct. Look the interviewer in the eye while conversing
Your military transition to civilian life might seem daunting as you begin your search for veterans jobs. However, after you start your search you may find, as many veterans before you have, that civilian employers are looking for veterans with the traits that are unique to military training. Taking advantage of your military education benefits to earn undergraduate or graduate degrees by classroom or an online education program can supplement your skills and help you to reach your civilian career goals.