Top Careers for Military Veterans

You need a second career. Industries need your skills. Veterans and business leaders know this universal truth: Great results begin with great leadership. So as the U.S. job market continues to improve, companies have realized that hiring veterans is not just goodwill — it’s good business. In a study by the Center of New American […]

To Put This in Context:

The unemployment rate for veterans is at its lowest level since 2008 because these individuals enter the workforce with the expertise, training, and discipline to meet employers’ toughest challenges. [1] And as these individuals transition to the civilian workforce to seek new careers, they are well-suited for key roles in companies across industries. Here are some high-paying professional roles that former military can not only impact, but lead.

You need a second career. Industries need your skills.

Veterans and business leaders know this universal truth: Great results begin with great leadership. So as the U.S. job market continues to improve, companies have realized that hiring veterans is not just goodwill — it’s good business. In a study by the Center of New American Security, 87 business leaders representing 69 companies agreed that veterans “bring real value” to an organization. [12] And with more than 360,000 men and women matriculating out of the military each year, companies have implemented outreach opportunities to fill talent gaps with skilled veterans. [13]

Businesses are fighting to hire veterans in careers such as the following:

Information Security Officer

Corporations and small businesses work under the constant threat of a data breach by cybercriminals. As advanced technology continues to accelerate the speed of business, many companies operate with unsecure systems, making them vulnerable.

As an information security officer, you can command a median salary of $88,842 with job responsibilities such as [2]:

  • Oversee the training, policies, and audits of your organization and its systems
  • Define mitigation strategies, queries, and data transfer procedures
  • Document and communicate system vulnerabilities
  • Safeguard your organization’s IT systems with security requirements, policies, and compliance

A bachelor’s degree in information technology, systems security, or a related field is required for most positions.

Did You Know?

Veterans are six times more likely than civilians to work as information security officers. [2] These management roles are ideal for veterans who have strong experience in cyber warfare and evaluating security strategies.

Air Traffic Controller


Air traffic controllers (ATC) guide pilots, their aircraft, and 2.2 million passengers through controlled airspace each day. [5] [3] It’s a demanding profession with a critically low margin for error, but it pays well — averaging $80,938 per year for experienced professionals. And with many controllers nearing the mandatory retirement age of 56, the Federal Aviation Administration needs to find the next generation of ATC leadership. [3][4]

Candidates must meet these requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen under the age 31
  • Pass FAA air traffic certification exams
  • Possess a bachelor’s degree or three years of related work experience

Veterans are pre-equipped to thrive as an ATC for several reasons: many enter the role with years of on-the-job experience and a proficiency in handling high-pressure environments. That’s why the FAA and other federal agencies have hiring preferences for veterans over civilians. Additionally, veterans can qualify to be exempt from FAA minimum requirements if they have more than 52 weeks of prior ATC experience. [5]

Emergency Management Director

Emergency management directors are responsible for developing effective response plans that can be enacted before, during, and after serious threats to public health. These responsibilities can include working with local and national government agencies to provide quick action for natural disaster relief, hazardous waste cleanup, hostage negotiations, and much more.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for these professionals is $67,330 as of May 2015, with wages reported as high as $127,180. [6] The growth potential for emergency management professionals is also on track with similar public service roles — projected at 6% between 2014 and 2024.

Did you know?

FEMA provides a number of educational resources for those interested in emergency management. These include online independent study courses, as well as a listing of schools with specialized bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate programs.

Business Development Manager


During your military service, you were trained to not only exhibit leadership in everything that you do, but to also recognize it in others. That is the core responsibility of a business development manager. These professionals create business plans to boost financial opportunity and build internal cultures that inspire growth in employees.

Business development management roles require a bachelor’s degree in business management or a related field, but leadership certifications can also greatly distinguish your value and expertise to employers.

Entry-level candidates can expect to earn around $62,000, but in this growing career, experienced professionals earn an average of $77,100 and the top 10% enjoy more than $120,000 per year. [7]

Telecommunications Equipment Managers (Telecom Technicians)

As the usage and volume of internet transfer rates continue to build — IBM estimates that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created each day [10] — telecom technicians can expect “very good job opportunities” in the future, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. [9] Telecom technicians manage inventories of hardware and supervise an organization’s communication services. Experienced veterans can make effective telecom technicians because of their ability to:

  • Maintain telephone lines, wireless, and mobile services
  • Oversee cable distribution connections with power sources
  • Install power plants, batteries, conferencing systems, and internet routers

Veterans need a two-year degree in basic electronics, telecommunications, or computer science — which can be obtained at a community college or technical school — to become telecom technicians. Additionally, the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers offers advanced certification for specific equipment. [11]

Go from the Front Lines to the Executive Suite

The above list is just the beginning. Veterans enter the civilian workforce with an extensive array of transferable skills, all of which can be used to leverage themselves into new careers. And, in recognition for their sacrifices in active duty, Congress has enacted veteran preference laws in state and federal agencies. These laws ensure that veterans receive first consideration in state and federal positions — a benefit that can help you get the career you want. [14]

Coupled with required education for some roles, veterans can be the complete package for an employer: a highly trained and educated asset positioning the company for the future.

Lee Williams

Associate Copywriter

Lee is a marketing and communications professional at Context and is also an avid fiction and nonfiction writer. His expertise includes education and social commentary as told through personal narratives. Lee’s work has appeared in Forbes, SUCCESS Magazine, and the Huffington Post. Connect with him on Twitter @Lee_Wms.