The Top Industries for Veterans Looking for Work

John Krautzel
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The transition from active duty to military retirement often leaves veterans wondering about the next step in their careers. However, the military provides soldiers with ample training that can transfer into many career fields. Learn how to ease your transition by targeting the top industries that actively recruit veterans and the skills they possess.

According to Forbes, the most common employers that actively seek out the technical and managerial experience of veterans are represented in the following industries:

Weapons and Security

Many veterans possess skills directly linked to the weapons and security industry, making them highly attractive to security companies. For example, Booz Allen Hamilton, a weapons and security firm, reported that in 2014 nearly 50 percent of the company's senior leaders served in the military as well as one third of the employee base. Veterans serve in positions within this industry that vary from management consultants and intelligence analysts to software developers and senior leaders. A familiarity with national security, weapon use and strong leadership often make veterans a top choice within this industry.


The aerospace industry depends highly on the management, leadership and military experience of veterans. Aerospace engineering companies, such as Boeing, Northrup Grumman and Lockheed Martin, dominated the list as some of the top employers of veterans in 2014, according to Forbes. Veterans find employment within this industry as aerospace and mechanical engineers.

Government Agencies

Active duty members of the military are equipped with skills that are especially appealing to government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans' Affairs. Specialized training and possession of skills easily transferable into government agencies make veterans attractive choices for fields such as the medical profession, where former members typically find work as licensed practical nurses, registered nurses and social workers. It is often a solid fit for veterans to work for government agencies that exist to assist fellow veterans because they have the knowledge and experiences to make connections with those in need.

Information Technology

Individuals who train in information technology fields leave the military with the knowledge and skills necessary to analyze data, infiltrate complex computer systems and operate classified or life-saving digital equipment. Information technology companies such as CACI International, Computer Sciences Corporation and General Dynamics place a heavy emphasis on hiring veterans for this type of experience, according to Forbes. Veterans often acquire positions in this industry as programmer analysts, software developers or systems administrators, especially those with high-level security clearances.

The best industries for former military members rely heavily on their interests, experience and positions held while in the military. Some veterans choose to return to school and launch careers in industries vastly different from the positions they held in the military. Create a skills inventory of your experience, interests and must-haves in a career to determine the right fit.

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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Ronald thanks for your comment. Certainly feel your pain and frustration. I am a Veteran myself and it angers and disgusts me that our vets are on the streets outside of the same place that is set aside for refuge children. But we have to start somewhere and it appears that companies are really trying to reach out to veterans now. I am from the Vietnam Era where our soldiers and sailors came home to... nothing. At least, today, 40 years later, companies are trying. We know it's not easy but are grateful for any company stepping up and hiring our vets. Talk up your experience. Put it at the top of your resume. Mention it in your cover letter. Let them know that you are proud of it. Let them know that they will be getting the best of the best. And @Ronald thanks for your service.

  • Ronald K.
    Ronald K.

    Then why so many veterans are on the street begging for help.Oh, you make it sound so easy. What your trying to sell is a bunch of crap.How about telling us about all the money the government spends on Refugees and nothing on our vets.They say they can't give retirees a raise they can't afford it.Bullshit

  • Robert Kinney
    Robert Kinney

    Also veteran. Again Thanks

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for your comments. It certainly is true that healthcare and IT could benefit from veterans and that the veterans would be qualified for the positions. Healthcare and IT are two of the fastest growing industries so yes it would be a good fit. Even if they might need a bit more education, it would be worth the investment. @Erin there really isn't just one place where employers and job seekers can come together. Although having a dedicated job search platform strictly for veterans would be great, it would be discriminating against non veterans.

  • William Browning
    William Browning

    Each veteran I've worked with has been a class act. There's no reason not to hire a former service member, so long as the employer keeps the person engaged in the job. IT sounds like a perfect industry for vets since they work with high-tech equipment on a daily basis. More and more combat is going digital thanks to computers, connected devices and wireless. Tech departments can always use more highly trained individuals who know how to get the job done.

  • Erin Jean
    Erin Jean

    Is there a dedicated job search platform for veterans? I imagine it would be a handy thing on both sides, employer and employee. Veterans have so much to offer, but too often they end up among the unemployed.

  • Lydia K.
    Lydia K.

    @Jay I think the mental health services is a great fit for vets. In most cases, additional education and training is probably needed. For example, to do counseling, you might need a degree in psychology or social services. To be a MD or RN with a specialty in psychiatry, you'd need to put in the years to get the required credentials in these fields. Some of the best health care professionals I know have a military background, so although not listed above, health care in any specialty area should not be overlooked.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Catherine it is true that corpsmen have the skills to work in the healthcare field. I think that the issue here is finding a way to translate your military expertise into civilian language so that the hiring manager can see everything that you bring to the table. @Robert it sounds like you are starting over in a whole new career in the healthcare field. So, in spite of all of your years of service, you do not have the experience that they are seeking. You might want to consider trying some "volunteer" work with your local ambulance/fire service. This will allow you to get some experience and also to know if this truly is the right field for you. You know how it goes - can't get a job without experience and can't get experience without a job. That catch 22 hits all of the time.

  • Robert Andrews
    Robert Andrews

    I m a vet. I got EMT basic training working on Paramedic apply for jobs get turned down because I havent worked in the field


    I think that healthcare should be included in this list of the best industries for veterans because veterans often leave their service with healthcare skills and the skills learned in the fast-paced environment of the military is very applicable to the healthcare field. At this time the healthcare industry is booming and there are many opportunities for veterans if they are given a little bit of training and career advice.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @James thanks for your comment. Sometimes we just have to take what we can find when it comes to posting an image with the article. We will try to do better the next time. @Erin it goes without saying that not all service members are involved in national and information security.

  • Erin H.
    Erin H.

    While I do agree with the selected industries, I have to point out that these are not the only industries by far in which veterans excel. These examples tend to focus on national and information security, but there are many former military members who excel in culinary arts, sales, management and many other professions.

  • James P.
    James P.

    I wish you had used a photo of an actual serviceman (or woman) to head up your article. That facial fuzz in uniform - dress uniform to boot - would lose you half a month's pay for two months, get you restricted to the base, and earn you two hours of extra duty a day for as long as you're restricted. You can do better, and should.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Mike yes that is the post 9/11 gi bill that many of our departing heroes can take advantage of. My son in law is actually in the process of doing it. Some colleges call it the Yellow Ribbon program but it is true - you get paid to go to school. Great program and a small thanks from our country. @Sallie thanks for the information about HERO.

  • Sallie P.
    Sallie P.

    Veterans possess valuable skills that make them desirable areas outside military disciplines, such as customer service, sales, human resources and information technology.
    Among the attributes they bring to non-military types of employment are a strong understanding of teamwork, leadership skills, ability to work under pressure, attention to detail, communication skills, perseverance, as well as respect and integrity.
    The other day I discovered a program called Human Exploitation Rescue Operation, HERO, a year-long internship that provides trainees with intensive training in sophisticated computer forensics. The program is intended to give purpose and a sense of mission back to veterans with war-related injuries that ended a military career and prevents them from pursuing other forms of employment. They work remotely with federal agents and local law enforcement to fight against child sexual exploitation.

  • Mike Van de Water
    Mike Van de Water

    One of my friends who left the military is actually getting paid to go to school to earn his IT credentials, and he couldn't be happier. His job in the service had nothing to do with computers, but they still help out with his school costs and will help him find a place to work after he gets his certifications. He's always saying that they are looking for gobs and gobs of people for IT!

  • Kristen Jedrosko
    Kristen Jedrosko

    This is a great article and provides great insight into what veterans can look into after retiring from the military. However, it leaves me with one question. How often does it happen that military personnel retire from the military, but then find themselves missing the job and re-enlisting and getting back into? It's common for older to people to return to the workforce after they retire, maybe in a different role, but why shouldn't we expect military personnel to do the same?

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for your comments. @Shannon, veterans are provided with some cursory "training" prior to leaving the service. Most places call it Transitional Assistance Program otherwise known as TAP. They do not help with placement but try to give you the tools that you need to assist you in your new civilian career. Of course you are in a classroom with 25 other people so the training is minimal to say the least. It is true that many veterans go from military to civilian status - overnight - while keeping relatively the same position. Government contracting companies always try to fill their positions with veterans as they know the lingo and the equipment, etc. @Abbey I am sure that most government contractors do give a 5 or 10 point preference to veterans and yes the Post Office does give preference to veterans also. Some places do really care about our service members and will bend over backwards to help them and to offer them positions.

  • Shannon Philpott
    Shannon Philpott

    Veterans seeking employment that is similar to their jobs in the military are likely to find success in government jobs. I've known several veterans who retired and then resumed their previous positions or something very similar on base as a contractor. The military, for the most part, usually provides veterans help with job placement as they transition from service.

  • Abbey Boyd
    Abbey Boyd

    Government agencies are a great place for veterans to seek unemployment, whether or not the work is related to what they did in the military. For example, at the United States Postal Service, veterans are given a hiring preference over civilians. Vets can apply for a 5- or 10- point preference to be placed higher on the list than other candidates. I cannot say whether this is true for all government agencies, but I'm willing to bet that it is. Anybody have any idea?

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Katharine veterans typically do pursue careers that are completely different from what they did during their military enlistments. It's hard to really answer your questions about the jobs they would excel at as it depends. Depends upon what they did in the military - positions they held, etc. From personal experience, I was taught as a young E4 how to manage a large group of people, to do evaluations, to control the work schedule, etc. Most of us are taught leadership skills as well as working as a team and supporting each other - not out for ourselves. So they could excel in pretty much any manager type position and can work in most any industry. As for the mental health sector @Jay - yes they would be great there. Many former military members who worked in the healthcare field during their tenure in the military are snapped up quickly by hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Companies know what they are getting when they hire the military and it's a win-win situation.

  • Katharine M.
    Katharine M.

    The end of the article states that veterans often pursue careers very different from what they did in the military, but all the examples in the article are quite similar to military jobs. What are some jobs that veterans would excel at but that are more of a departure from military life?

  • Jay Bowyer
    Jay Bowyer

    This is an excellent list! I'm curious, though: what about the mental health sector? Many military veterans have a lot of experience in highly stressful situations and I'm sure also have a lot of experience negotiating with/working with a plethora of different individuals. Would psychology be another good field to explore?

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