3 Paths to Great Civilian Jobs

Are you a veteran transitioning out of the military or a military spouse, or looking to change careers? There are many resources available to help you quickly enter new fields. Below are some different types of career-development opportunities to prepare you for a successful career in a new field, as well as some valuable tools to help you enter those fields. This is hardly an exhaustive list, just an idea of organizations looking to help veterans and military spouses in the workplace.

Workforce Development

A traditional path to employment for many transitioning and career-changing veterans and military spouses is to learn the skills of a particular trade in manufacturing or construction.

Helmets to Hardhats focuses on providing veterans training and resources to prepare veterans to work in construction-related jobs. Their 14-week training program, for example, is designed to prepare veterans to work in the electrical industry.

Sometimes, employers will offer training programs to learn the skills you need to work in their industry.  Siemens, among others, offers free classes that teach specific skills to begin a career in manufacturing. The classes vary in length, and focus on Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing.

Technology Careers

If you want to learn to become a software developer, ranked as  #3 job overall by US News, and the #3 best job for Veterans by Forbes, one of the best ways to do it is at an in-person ‘bootcamp’.  Code Platoon is a veteran and military spouses only, non-profit bootcamp that teaches the fundamentals of programming over the course of 16 weeks and prepares you for a career in software development. Anyone who is smart, determined and deeply interested in software can succeed at a coding bootcamp, even if they have never previously written a line of code. Look for programs that will provide at least 1000 hours of combined instruction and coding time. Starting salaries out of similar programs range between $60,000 and $80,000.

Other programs, like Veterans Career Transition Program (Tech Track), run by The Institute for Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF), teach industry related skills in information technology (IT), project management and human resources. Several of their courses lead to industry-wide accepted certifications, and classes are free.

Business Careers

For many veterans who are leaving the military, starting your own business is a great path. Likewise for veterans and military spouses who have been employed, but want to strike out on their own. These organizations help veterans  and military spouses prepare to start their own businesses, or directly enter the business world:

The Bunker is a program where early stage, veteran-led startups go to access great talent, an exclusive network of fellow entrepreneurs, mentorship and professional development, and capital. Most of the different chapters (5 currently) are located in startup friendly co-working spaces, like 1871 in Chicago. Around 30 companies participate in The Bunker, with anywhere from one to five employees.

Patriot Boot Camp (PBC) helps military veterans and military spouses build technology businesses. PBC runs intensive 3­-day training events to engage, inspire, and mentor veterans and military spouses to start, innovate, and scale the next generation of technology ­focused businesses.

The goal of Patriot Boot Camp events is to help participants learn the basics of tech entrepreneurship and grow their professional network. Patriot Boot Camp provides these early stage entrepreneurs with programming that is tailored to helping them build a network of contacts and take steps to bring their entrepreneurial dreams to market.

Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) is a three-phase program (online phase, weeklong residency at partner university, then a yearlong support mentorship program) that combines classroom with experiential learning to give veterans the skills they need to start their own businesses.  Think of it as a mini MBA bootcamp, only it’s free.

GE offers a Junior Officer Leadership Program, which is a combination of formal classroom and on-the-job training. Selected candidates rotate through various departments in GE, and learn skills in management and finance, among others.

Transition Guidance

There are many organizations that provide support services to help veterans and military spouses, especially those transitioning out of the military. Personal branding and mentorship are two undervalued tools for anyone looking for a job.

National Able’s Veterans Forward program helps veterans and military spouses navigate the job search process in today’s employment marketplace.  They stress the importance of developing a personal brand, effective networking, and maximizing social media in the job search process.  Three-quarters of all hires go to “known candidates”.  They show their clients how to become part of that 75%.

American Corporate Partners pairs veterans and military spouses with Corporate Mentors. Mentors provide career advice, encouragement, and connections. Want a senior level mentor at Disney, Morgan Stanley or Lockheed Martin? These are just a few organizations that work with ACP.

Lastly, as a one-stop-shop for free online classes on many different topics, it’s hard to beat the Army’s e-learning platform, where classes are offered by Skillport. There are many classes focusing on leadership, management, business principles, IT, and project management. Some of the courses are designed specifically for acquiring certain certifications.

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