5 High-Paying Career Fields for Recently Separated Combat Arms Veterans

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(U.S. Army/Patrick A. Albright)

There are a lot of benefits to military service, and the first among them is job training that can translate to a real-world career after leaving the military. The trouble with that particular benefit is that some military careers don’t always have a direct civilian counterpart.

Infantry and combat arms veterans really don’t find careers that closely resemble what they did in the military. This experience isn’t wasted by any means. They still gain work experience and the soft skills that come with an infantry career. These skills are highly desired by civilian employers and include teamwork, demonstrable leadership and the ability to follow instructions, among many others. Combat arms personnel excel at those things.

When considering a post-military career, many veterans have a clearer understanding of where to go in their careers. Combat arms personnel may feel a little lost in finding the next step. The good news is that the world is actually wide open. The U.S. Census Bureau recently compiled data that points to great careers offering high starting salaries for these kinds of veterans.

1. Scientific and Technical Services

This sector performs highly specialized jobs and often requires a lot of specialized training, education or certification. Those working in scientific and technical services can offer those services to industries or households, or work in companies that require them. These fields include scientific research and development, architectural engineering, computer systems design and even advertising.

Read: The 9 Best Job Programs for Veterans Separating in 2021

Many of these careers can be studied through military programs or with the benefits of tuition assistance and GI Bill funding. There are also private nonprofit organizations that offer to teach skilled services to veterans for free or at a fraction of the cost of a two- or four-year degree. The highest earners surveyed were making more than $80,000 per year, just one year after leaving the military.

2. Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction

Hard work pays off, it seems. America’s mining industry not only includes companies extracting minerals, oil and other materials such as natural gas. It also includes any work done at the mine to process the ore or other substances to make them suitable for transport or processing.

This means that working on an oil rig, operating mining equipment or working as a geological engineer is a well-compensated, post-military career path for veterans. The sector includes operating construction equipment or working in mine safety. The highest-earning vets working in this sector were making upward of $70,000 every year.

3. Utilities

Working in utilities is just what it sounds like. Utilities personnel make the electricity, natural gas, water, steam and sewage flow. They are responsible for the generation and transmission of electricity (through nuclear, coal, gas or renewables) and everything associated with those areas. When it comes to water and sewage, they’re the ones responsible for treating and distributing water supplies and collecting and disposing of wastewater.

Read: The Utility Workers Union of America Is Training Veterans for Post-Military Careers

Many programs to train veterans in utilities exist, because the United States needs utilities workers, and power companies are willing to pay handsomely for their skill and expertise. They love veterans especially, because vets are motivated and detail-oriented. High earners in utilities are making upward of $60,000 per year, one year after discharge, as of the end of 2020.

4. Educational Services

Educational services is a wide-open field, comprising not just primary and secondary school teachers, but also college-level professors and skilled tradesmen who are instructing future skilled trades workers. It also includes any instructional work done via correspondence or over the internet as well as more unique instruction, such as languages or English as a second language.

Even just one year out of the military, veterans in the educational services field may have a lot to offer students and other people looking to learn from their education and experience. The highest earners in the industry were making as much as $60,000 annually, according to the Census Bureau’s statistics.

5. Public Administration

The widest category on the list was public administration, but it still managed to make the top five highest-earning possibilities for recently separated veterans. These able managers supervise and direct the implementation of local, state and federal public policy in a number of fields, including health, the environment, justice and labor.

Read: How Veterans Leaving the Military Can Launch a Political Career

Many of these roles are elected positions, depending on the rules in your local government. They include prison wardens, clerks of court and county offices, such as treasurer, comptroller or superintendent. No one goes into public service to get rich (as you might have learned from your military service), but even just one year after leaving the military, veterans can earn upward of $45,000 in this sector.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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