Education and Transition

Jobs for infantry vets: What you need to know

If you’re an infantryman, you’re used to being on the front lines. So when it’s time for you to get out of the military and transition into a civilian career, it’s natural to want a job that offers some action.

If that sounds like you, these are a few fields to consider.

Private military

“When you join the military during a time of war, you are pretty much guaranteeing yourself a front row seat in combat. You’re going to go to battle, you’re going to go to war, you’re going to test yourself,” said Army infantry veteran Adam Gonzales.

And once you get used to that, not many civilian jobs will satisfy you, he said.

Gonzales is the CEO and founder of Silent Professionals, a free online job board for combat veterans that he started with his wife in 2017. Since its launch, Silent Professionals has helped more than 4,000 veterans find employment in jobs that match their skill set, such as the private military industry, he said.

One of the most common jobs for private military contractors is working in security, either on a protective security detail, traveling with high-ranking military officials, diplomats, USAID workers and others who need protection, or static security, guarding their homes or an installation. Many of these positions require infantry experience.

“It’s a perfect transition, actually, for guys coming out of the military, because they’re all accustomed to doing this exact type of mission already,” Gonzales said.

It’s also a good career if you’re looking for the type of camaraderie you had in the military, said Dan Caporale, an ambassador of the USO Pathfinder Program by Hire Our Heroes.

“Sometimes when you leave the military, you miss it, right? You miss that camaraderie, you miss hanging with the guys and the girls in your platoon, your company,” and that’s when people gravitate toward this option, he said.

Gonzales said the pay range is about $200 to $600 a day in these positions.

Executive protection

Maybe you’ve had enough of the battlefields in Iraq or Afghanistan and want to come home for some semblance of a personal life. There are people in the U.S. who need protection, too — particularly wealthy individuals, including heads of Fortune 500 companies and celebrities.

In these positions, you’ll wear civilian clothes, carry a concealed weapon and try to blend in with the client, Gonzales said.

Women veterans in particular are in “high demand” in this career field, he said, as the number of female CEOs and executives with high net worth has grown. Women are also wanted for protective security details overseas.

“Every time we get a woman who applies at Silent Professionals, we’ve got a place for them real fast,” Gonzales said.

Zip Recruiter, a popular job-search website, puts the average salary of this career at $76,179 a year.

Law enforcement

Law enforcement is another career field that will utilize your combat infantry skills.

On the local level, there’s a shortage of police officers across the country, and many agencies actively recruit veterans like you and give preference on their applications.

If a career in law enforcement is what you seek, the Department of Justice’s Vets to Cops website provides some resources, including tips for getting started down this path, such as being prepared to answer the following questions to shift your mindset to one of a community police officer: “How did you work with communities to address safety concerns?” “How did you develop partnerships in the areas you served?” “What examples can you provide to demonstrate your abilities in times of crisis?”

Caporale said to just knock on the door of the police station and find out what it takes to get hired, because there are different requirements across the board.

“I would encourage every veteran, if that’s what they want to do, is go to their local police department and speak to the sergeant of arms there and look for some direction,” he said.

And don’t forget about federal law enforcement agencies seeking people with your background, such as the FBI, CIA, Secret Service and others.

The median salary at the federal level is $87,130, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis of police and detective jobs. At the state and local levels, the median salaries are $67,230 and $61,590, respectively. The median salary for all law enforcement workers is $55,760.

Put down your weapon

But maybe, like many others, you don’t want to do the same thing you did in the military. Just because you have infantry skills doesn’t mean you’re limited to jobs that require them. The military prepared you for more than you think.

“If you’re an infantryman, whether you’re carrying an M-16 or a 50 cal ... there’s a certain level of responsibility and demeanor that comes with that,” Caporale said. “They operate well under pressure, make informed decisions and carry a high level of responsibility.”

You also know how to work as part of a team and respect authority — all valuable assets in any career field. So, here are some other ideas in case you want to branch out of your comfort zone.

Skilled trades

Caporale said his group has seen a number of veterans lean toward career opportunities that involve working with their hands, such as construction, welding and auto mechanics and careers in project management.

Last year, the Home Depot Foundation and the nonprofit Home Builders Institute launched a partnership to offer free, 12-week training programs for transitioning service members on select military bases.

The program’s curriculum is recognized by the Labor Department and is 75 percent hands-on, said HBI CEO John Courson told Military Times previously. Graduates receive a pre-apprenticeship certification, as well as resume and job placement help.

Courson said the program can be a good fit for service members who like to work with their hands, or as a team. Plus, he added, “for many in the military, when you’re framing a house in Alabama in August, that might be one of the better climates you’ve worked in over your last two deployments.”

Information technology and cybersecurity

If problem-solving is your thing, you’ll do a lot of it in IT — from fixing printers to troubleshooting server connectivity.

It’s also a field that offers the type of job security that may seem hard to come by these days. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the computer and information technology field will grow by 12 percent, or 546,200 new jobs by 2028. That’s “much faster than the average for all occupations,” its website states.

The field also pays better than average. According to BLS, the median annual wage for IT jobs was $86,320 in 2018, compared to $38,640 for all occupations.

Along these lines, cybersecurity jobs are also plentiful, and your military background is a draw for employers, especially because you likely have some level of security clearance from your time in service.

Teaching

Yup, you read that right. You didn’t think your combat skills prepared you for a job working with children, but it turns out there are special programs designed to transition veterans into the classroom, including the Teach For America Military Veterans Initiative and Troops to Teachers.

Troops to Teachers in particular has helped more than 21,000 veterans transition into a career in education since it started in 1993, helping to address widespread teacher shortages across the U.S. Veterans also bring leadership skills and increased diversity to the classroom, according to the program’s website.

Anything you want

There are no limitations on what you can be once you get out of the military. If you’re stuck, it may be a good time to use your Post-9/11 GI Bill and get a college degree that could open up even more doors for you down the road.

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