By Felicia Campbell
Though some military occupations have direct civilian equivalents, many vets find that it is their “soft skills” that serve them best as civilians.
“The most challenging part of transitioning is trying to explain your roles and responsibilities in the military during job interviews,” explained Celerina Cornett, the Director of Healthcare Education at UC San Diego Extension, who served in the U.S. Navy for 24 years.
In the military, Cornett had the opportunity to be in many different leadership positions. She led a field hospital in Iraq, a trauma medicine school and held many leadership positions as a healthcare administrator in Naval Hospitals.
“This multifaceted healthcare experience at all levels prepared me for a career in healthcare,” Cornett said. “But the skills that were most transferable to the civilian workforce were leadership, flexibility, strategic planning, decision making, collaboration, and negotiation.”
Such was the case for Victoria “Vic” Faulkner when she transitioned from being a hospital corpsman in the Navy into a career in operations support for the arts and language and healthcare education departments at UC San Diego Extension.
“It is definitely a change in venue but, I’ve always had great computer skills and customer service, and it transferred into what I’m doing now for Extension,” she explained. “I was able to apply other skills I learned from the Navy as well: Attention-to-detail, professionalism, leadership, process improvement and the list could continue. I feel that the military has made me a better employee and team player.”
Professional certificate programs are a great way for veterans to parlay their military training and skills into vibrant civilian careers. Read more about veterans who have translated their military experience into civilian success at UC San Diego Extension, and consider transitioning into one of these six civilian careers that make use of military skills.
Military skill or occupation: Logistics, Personnel Specialist, or Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO)
Complimentary civilian career: Management
Personnel Specialists, Logistics Specialists, and Non-commissioned Officers (NCOs) of any occupational specialty make great civilian managers because they know all about wrangling troops, dealing with complex personnel issues, and finding common ground with people from a wide range of backgrounds and abilities.
Explore a wide range of managerial possibilities with certificates in Career Advising, Business Management, Human Resource Management, and Project Management, most of which are available as part of flexible and online programs at UC San Diego Extension.
Military skill or occupation: Hospital Corpsman, Patient Admin Specialist, or any healthcare-related specialty
Complimentary civilian careers: Healthcare
All those drawn to medical professions are helpers, and military veterans have the added experience dealing with high-stress situations, often in less than ideal circumstances, and managing care for a wide range of patients. These skills are invaluable in civilian healthcare fields, in which LinkedIn’s Workforce Report showed job postings have increased this year by 35%.
Think beyond your military specialization with certificate programs for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling, Integrative Nutrition, Lactation and Perinatal coaching, Healthcare Information Technology, or support roles in Medical Coding and Healthcare Revenue Cycle, some of which can be performed remotely.
Military skill or occupation: Engineers
Complimentary civilian careers: Engineering
If you can perform civil, electrical, or mechanical engineering on a ship or base, civilian job sites will feel extremely familiar, though some of the terminology may be different. Engineering certificate programs offer a range of options for transitioning into similar or related engineering fields, from electrical engineering to engineering design. Instead of going for a lateral move, take the opportunity to build on skills gained in the military to upgrade into a dream civilian career.
Military skill or occupation: Military Police, Infantry, Safety and Quality Control Officers
Complimentary civilian career: OSHA
Many veterans were drawn to the service because of a desire to protect and make a difference. Occupational Safety and Health officials are committed to ensuring work environments are safe for employees and the surrounding communities. Certified OSHA specialists are in high demand, and UC San Diego is among a select few educational institutions authorized by the U.S. Department of Labor to offer OSHA training courses that can be applied to the Occupational Safety and Health Department certificate programs. Those interested in continuing the protective nature of their work may find a career in OSHA extremely satisfying, and lucrative with certified inspector salaries averaging over $60,000.
Military skill or occupation: Intelligence Specialist, Information Systems Technicians/ Specialists
Complimentary civilian careers: Software and Computer Programming
The world of information technology is constantly changing, so it’s important to stay current. The great news is that if you had the aptitude to design or manage computer software or hardware in the military, there is no shortage of civilian jobs that require similar skill sets. UC San Diego Extension certificate programs help ensure you are up to date and competitive in the market with classes in IT Management, Networking and Security, UX Design, Mobile App Design, and all the latest in Computer Programming and Scripting Languages from C++ to Python.
Military skill or occupation: ANY
Complimentary civilian careers: Something Totally Different
Sometimes transitioning out of the military is a chance to transition into something totally new and different. This is your chance to start fresh, start over, start something you’ve always desired. The perseverance, discipline, teamwork, and attention-to-detail possessed by military veterans are assets in any profession. Explore out-of-the-box options that tap into your passions, like communication design, children’s book writing and illustration, brewing, translation, copyediting, or one of the many other professional certificate programs that can help you launch the next chapter of your life and career.