Emily Hills was preparing to leave the military as she scanned the career fair at Fort Hood, Texas. She was not happy with what she saw. Law enforcement booths dominated the fair, and she left wondering if being a cop was the only job she could do when she left the Army.

“I did not want to be a cop” she said on the Mentors4Mil podcast.

For anyone, switching careers is daunting, and for the quarter million military members who leave the military each year, the notion that there are few post-military careers in the civilian world that don’t require carrying a gun and wearing body armor, makes the task even more challenging.

This notion, however, is being questioned. New research shows that health care, financial services and education are among the top 10 post-military careers. Law enforcement is seventh, followed by manufacturing and driving trucks. IT, retail, and defense contracting are also popular. Hills eventually found her “soft skills” honed as a maintenance pilot were useful for a civilian career in management.

What explains this phenomenon? “Many of these professions have the highest demand for workers” says Robert Frick, an economist for Navy Federal Credit Union, which made the findings. They first asked veterans what they most valued in a civilian career, then worked with a non-profit that connects veterans with jobs and identified where they worked after leaving the military.

Obviously, those transitioning want jobs matching the skills they’ve developed in the military. But they should consider other factors. Unemployment is at record lows. People are staying put, and according to Anthony Carnevale of Georgetown University, getting already skilled workers from other companies is expensive.

This means massive skills gaps should not dissuade job seekers. They’re advised to “look for companies that will provide training” because companies often prefer new hires. Be flexible on location too. Fewer Americans are moving as housing costs skyrocket. You may not get your preferred location. But a good career, they say, should after promotions and raises, bring more comforts.

Planning and preparation is key, just like the military. Service members are advised to value who they will work with and where, along with taking a job that will add value to their career.

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