Each year, nearly 200,000 men and women leave U.S. military service and return to civilian life.
It is well known that a large portion of these service members are experiencing difficulties during their military to civilian transition.
One significant challenge these individuals may face during this period of change can be finding employment. However, it may help to know that the skills gained during military training are directly transferable to civilian careers.
There are many careers in which a veteran could easily transition into and find themselves successful. One industry vets could thrive in is in information technology (IT). Information technology positions are suitable for those transitioning to civilian life because many who have served already have experience in working in IT. Additionally, IT roles are in demand, they have a bright future, and some of these jobs are relatively high paying.
Veterans who want to make a smooth transition into a civilian career should consider doing so in IT. To do this, it will require an assessment of their existing skills (and how they pertain to IT positions), receiving training, and leveraging the many programs that assist vets in securing a job in information technology.
Adapting to civilian life can be difficult for veterans on many fronts. There are psychological and physical challenges a service member may have to overcome — and many of these issues could translate into struggles within the workplace. Socializing with coworkers, transitioning from military to corporate jargon, scheduling differences, and physical capabilities may all stand in the way of a veteran trying to settle into a job.
However, this transition can be made smoother by taking a few steps before and during a job search.
# Participate in a Transition Assistance (TAP) Workshop. These classes can assist in career exploration and job hunting tactics (including writing resumes and interview preparation).
# Networking. It may help to talk to other ex-military members who have made the transition successfully and speaking to military-friendly employers. Generally, having a pulse on opening positions, knowing information about the companies you are applying to, and making yourself known in these circles can be the difference between landing a job or just being another name on a resume.
# Assessing Your Transferable Skills. This may be facilitated in a TAP. However, veterans can do this themselves when thinking of their career. Understand the skills gained during your military experience and how they might apply to a civilian job. For instance, if you have previously worked as an Information Technology Specialist, you have many skills such as maintaining networks, hardware and software experience, and testing computer programs that are directly related to corporate IT demands.
Of course, there are many subtle elements to these steps a veteran may need to further consider. The information below will help explain in detail how to make the transition from a military to a civilian IT career go as smooth as possible.
A military career prepares you for much more than just combat. Military personnel can acquire the skills throughout their training and experience to give them a leg up in the workforce.
Most positions will require some soft skills — essentially, people skills and personality traits that employers look upon favorably. The military helps accelerate the development of these skills, and those who have served are in a unique position to leverage them. When writing a resume, veterans may be able to list the following skills:
n the corporate world, these skills will transfer to a wide range of IT jobs. Matt Hunn, an IT professional who served in the United States Marine Corps decided to go into work for himself, stating “ as a certified IT professional with a lot of years experience as well as military training, I felt comfortable deciding to do my own thing, and I was willing to take the risk.”
Matt Hunn is just one of many vets who could recognize that their military IT training gives them the capabilities to go the entrepreneur or contractor route. IT professionals can use remote monitoring software to access remotely to access company or client computers. From here, IT support and managed services can be provided from a distance, or IT professionals can also offer hands-on services to customers and businesses.
The information technology industry is thriving and often offers high-paying positions. Those who pursue a career in IT will additionally receive many more perks — many of which may agree with the lifestyle of a veteran and even ease their transition from a military to a civilian job. Benefits of working in the IT industry include:
IT professionals work almost solely through the Internet and on computers. For this reason, telecommunications, project and customer management software, and work can be done remotely. Working from home is common for IT jobs such as remote monitoring and management (RMM). RMM is a “category of software [and] is essential for managed service providers (MSPs) & IT professionals. RMM will help you to fulfill your contractual obligations to your clients and their employees.” This is just one facet of information technology that can be done from home or remotely, using cloud-based operations.
Many IT professionals — especially those in a senior position — are able to set their hours. Due to the flexibility of IT work, many employees are able to map out their day according to client needs.
Technology has crept into virtually every industry to automate and make daily operations easier. When problems arise in these computer systems — and they do — they will need IT professionals to fix these issues and keep information secure.
Information technology is not all computer chips and circuits. Many times, it involves critical thinking to come up with creative solutions to problems. Working with systems, organizations, and individuals both in IT departments and on the receiving end of support services can require as much creative problem-solving as working with the technology itself.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $83,320 in 2018. This is much higher than the median annual wage for all occupations, which was $38,640.
Hardware and software are always changing. Research on how to make systems better, help computers run smoother, and cybersecurity measures are continuing to surface. IT professionals will have to keep up with this information and apply it to their work to be the best at their job. All this evolution and constant change means there is also a need for IT management professionals, and leadership than can help coordinate in-house IT teams as well as remote service providers. This can entail mastering and leveraging professional services automation (PSA) technology in combination with management skills.
Since some IT jobs can be done remotely, and scheduling is flexible, IT professionals are able to strike an agreeable work/life balance to better their job satisfaction.
Alongside the constant change of the IT industry, occupations are born out of these recent developments. As the IT industry grows, so will the opportunities for new positions and work for IT professionals.
While vets may possess the skills to smoothly transition into an IT position, they may still need to receive some training to do so. This education can catch veterans up to speed on recent technologies, or get them certified to specialize in a particular role. Many organizations understand this, and will work with vets to get them on the right path.
Apprenti locates apprenticeships for minorities, women, and veterans. They also assist with training, certification, and hiring processes to bridge the talent gap within the tech industry. You can visit the website to apply and become an apprentice to receive on-the-job training.
CAE offers training for civil aviation, defense and security, and healthcare industries. These industries are all suitable for vets. However, it will be the defense and security industry where they can find IT training.
CyberCorps Scholarship for Services offers programs to perform IT services for governmental bodies. Scholarships are three years, and individuals can walk away with an undergraduate or graduate education. In exchange for working for the government, funding is made available by the National Science Foundation to provide this education.
The Federal Virtual Training Environment provides free online courses in providing cybersecurity for the government. This training extends to government employees, federal contractors, and veterans. Visit their website to register and browse the course catalog.
Veterans can use their GI Bill assistance through the Department of Veteran Affairs to assist in funding a college education. Vets can then tailor their college education to include information technology courses.
Hire Heroes specializes in supporting the transition from military to civilian life. Veterans looking to break into the IT field can use Hire Heroes for free job search assistance, and to get connected to companies who may hire them.
My Next Move for Vets also helps veterans in transitioning into civilian life. This website enables you to browse careers and understand how to get the job you want to.
NPower works with young adults from underserved communities and military veterans in applying for skills training and filling job openings. They even provide mentors to help people get a job in the IT industry.
PAVE is a no-cost program by the Paralyzed Veterans of America, though it seeks to help any veteran, active service member, spouse and/or caregiver. PAVE helps these people identify skills and education to gain those skills, drafting resumes, job hunting, and interview preparation.
Visiting the NRD website will help service members, veterans, and their families find information on benefits and compensation, education and training, employment, health, housing, and more.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides this website as a gateway to VA careers. Here veterans can seek virtual job training, career opportunities, and other assistance such as a crisis line.
The U.S. Department of Labor offers the VETS program to provide veterans with training and employment. Veterans can also inform themselves on career advice, resources for spouses, and employers can go here specifically to hire vets.
VOW is another program provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Here, vets can enroll in career assistance programs and other VA training. This website also has resources on making civilian life transition easier, employment assistance, vocational rehabilitation.
VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC) is a program to help veterans transition into college and university life. Veterans who are aiming to go to college to gain the skills for their career can visit this website for on-campus assistance, disability accommodations, and health services through VA Medical Centers.
The VA also offers a program to provide education and training specifically through technology courses. Vets can receive hands-on training to prepare them for competing in the tech industry. Visit the website for course descriptions and how the VA can provide financial assistance for this education and housing for students.
It is common for IT professionals to receive certification and/or receive training in a specific area of expertise. While they are not often regulated as strictly as certifications may be in an industry such as healthcare, certifications in IT can give you a competitive edge during your job search.
For veterans, gaining a certification may be the only thing needed to gain employment, as they already have experience. Certifications can carry weight on tech and IT resumes because they show that an individual is qualified in the newer standard practices and technologies of an ever-evolving industry. Look to the following esteemed organizations and certifications to gain the credentials you might need in information technology fields to start or further your IT career.
CompTIA offers entry-level and advanced certifications in cybersecurity, IT networking, cloud computing and more. Visit the website to choose an IT certification, preparing for the exam, and becoming CompTIA certified — which is globally recognized.
Cisco provides training and certifications on entry, associate, and specialist levels. Certifications and education include CCNA routing and switching, DevNet Associate, CCNP Data Center, and many more IT sectors. Visit the website for information on courses, training, and exams.
ISACA provides training, exams, and certifications in IT audits, security, governance, and risk (and the many areas within these aspects of IT). Visit the website to find details on their many certifications, education, and informational resources.
ScrumAlliance provides certifications and 16-hour courses to become a Certified Scrum Master. This certification will educate on the Scrum framework, team roles, events, and artifacts. Visit the website to find a course, train, and pass the exam.
Getting a CISM can help you earn more and advance your career. Through this certification process, you will learn security practices and management, design, and administration of enterprise information security.
A PMP will give an IT professional the ability to work all over the world and in many industries. Those looking to be a project manager, and manage professionals and organizations worldwide should visit this website for application tips, and passing the test to become certified.
This certification will qualify you for security management, professional ethics, and a continuing education policy. Individuals who become CISM certified will gain work experience and training in information security. Visit the website above to understand where to apply and exam details.
The IT industry is thriving and includes an almost limitless variety of positions. Because of this, there is a demand for IT professionals, the jobs pay well, and it is one of the fastest-growing industries to get into. As there are many specific roles within IT, there are several general categorizations aspiring IT professionals should consider specializing in.
Data analysts should have the ability to take in sales figures, market research, logistics, transportation costs, and more to turn these numbers into easily digestible information to help companies become more efficient. These professionals generally will need to obtain a bachelor’s degree for entry-level jobs and may be required to receive their master’s for more advanced positions.
Cybersecurity includes the many aspects of recognizing security flaws and planning and carrying out security measures to protect their clients’ information on computer networks and systems. This position will require a bachelor’s degree and may require further education and certification for higher positions. Wages for those in cybersecurity may vary, however, an information security analyst’s median annual wage was $98,350 in 2018.
Whether it be on personal computers or a corporate server, IT support and maintenance professionals will make sure it is operating effectively and securely. These professionals may work directly with or a company, or provide IT support through remote access to process old files, update systems and patches, implement anti-virus software, provide hardware checks, and more. A bachelor’s degree may be required for these positions, however, an associate’s degree or certifications may suffice for lower-level jobs. In 2018, a computer network support specialist made an average yearly wage of $62,770.
Web developers will design and create websites for clients and companies. They can also be self-employed and work remotely. Web development work varies widely, and educational requirements may range from a high school diploma to a bachelor’s degree. Web developers make around $70,000 per year.
Computer programmers use backend access to write and test code — making sure computer applications and software programs are running smoothly and correctly. Making roughly $84,000 a year, these IT professionals will need an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in addition to knowing programming languages.
IT engineers design, install, and support entire computer systems for their clients. They will work with an IT team and report issues to an IT manager. Since engineers will need to know security protocols, networking infrastructures and database systems, and manage multiple projects they will need to be certified in many programming languages, operating systems coupled with a bachelor’s degree at the least.