15 Military Jobs That Transfer To Civilian Life (Plus FAQs)

Updated March 10, 2023

A person wearing a U.S. Army T-shirt uses a laptop and writes in a notebook.

Joining the military is an impactful commitment. Recruits usually see the military as a career path or as a way to get a college education. When joining, it's important to think about how military skills will transfer to civilian careers once you transition back to civilian life after service.

In this article, we explore several military occupations with technical skills that transfer well to civilian life.

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15 military jobs that transfer to civilian positions

Learning the best military jobs that transfer to civilian life can help you set yourself up for a successful career both now and in the future. Here's a look at jobs in the military that transfer well to civilian life with primary duties and salaries. For the most up-to-date salaries from Indeed, please click on the salary link:

1. Operating room specialist

National average salary: $20,951 per year

Primary duties: An operating room specialist is responsible for helping nursing staff prepare the operating room and patients for surgery. They also prepare and maintain special equipment and medical supplies for medical treatment facilities. In addition to prepping operating rooms and patients, an operating room specialist supervises personnel, positions specialized equipment and prepares operating room scrubs.

2. Dental specialist

National average salary: $27,009 per year

Primary duties: A dental specialist supports a dentist in almost every aspect of running the dental office and treating patients. They help arrange dental procedures by choosing and organizing instruments and prepare patients by taking their vital statistics, such as blood pressure.

A dental specialist often takes part in patient oral exams and may help with tasks such as placing and removing sutures, administering anesthesia and preparing materials for dental restoration procedures. Other duties include assisting with X-rays, ordering and taking inventory supplies, filing and maintaining records and scheduling appointments.

Related: Guide To Becoming a Dental Laboratory Technician

3. Technical engineer

National average salary: $37,875 per year

Primary duties: A technical engineer oversees construction site development, which includes surveying, drafting and making construction plans and specifications. They also perform lab and field tests on construction materials, draw topographical maps and charts and draw diagrams for plumbing and electrical wiring in structures. Other duties include providing technical support for construction projects, using GPS technology to conduct construction and geodetic surveys and building scale models to help plan construction projects.

4. Motor transport operator

National average salary: $38,992 per year

Primary duties: A motor transport operator drives cars and trucks to transport cargo and personnel. Aside from operating vehicles and equipment over various terrains, a motor transport operator oversees the loading and unloading of cargo and personnel being transported, whether in a vehicle or via a trailer. Other duties include prepping vehicles for movement, using defense techniques to protect the convoy and managing and correcting any problems or malfunctions with vehicles.

5. Intelligence analyst

National average salary: $40,451 per year

Primary duties: An intelligence analyst takes information collected by intelligence agents and uses it to determine what a third party is doing, where they might go next, what they might do and what equipment or resources they have available to them.

Analysts handle highly classified information and make recommendations and decisions used to determine undercover, combat and other missions. They also prepare intelligence reports, maintain and establish intelligence files and records and determine how significant and reliable incoming intelligence information might be. Other duties include identifying national threats and ensuring important information gets to decision-makers or supervisors.

Related: Learn About Being an Intelligence Analyst

6. Wheeled vehicle mechanic

National average salary: $40,724 per year

Primary duties: A wheeled vehicle mechanic handles the repair and maintenance of armored and tactical vehicles, both light and heavy. They regularly inspect, replace, adjust and test a vehicle's systems, subsystems and components. They also oversee the vehicle's electrical systems, which include the wiring harness and charging and starting systems. In addition, they perform wheeled recovery operations when a truck becomes disabled.

7. Military police

National average salary: $41,199 per year

Primary duties: A military police officer is a peacekeeper. They provide security services on military bases across the globe, perform law enforcement functions and conduct investigations of minor crimes.

When serving in the military, they may also be called upon to serve in battle situations overseas. When deployed, a military police officer provides battlefield support, secures outposts and camps and assists in security details and dignitary protection. Other duties include performing police functions in occupied areas and providing assistance and support to local police forces in maintaining order during and after wartime.

8. Interpreter and translator

National average salary: $41,355 per year

Primary duties: Interpreters and translators translate foreign languages into English and vice versa to further military missions in foreign countries. This may include legal proceedings, working parties and statements made by participants in conferences.

In addition, an interpreter translates written, non-technical materials and creates libraries of language reference materials, such as foreign language dictionaries and glossaries of military terms. They may also provide civil affairs officers with interpreter support.

Related: How To Become an Interpreter (With Examples and Tips)

9. Administrative specialist

National average salary: $43,588 per year

Primary duties: An administrative specialist types out correspondence and proofreads typed documents against source documents. They also assemble the final products for authentication, prepare certified or registered mail for dispatch and open, sort, route and deliver incoming messages and correspondence.

Other duties include preparing documents, maintaining files, signing receipts for and picking up certified and registered mail, dating and dispatching outgoing messages and correspondence and receiving publications and establishing and maintaining a publications library.

Related: Learn About Being an Administrative Assistant

10. Air traffic control operator

National average salary: $43,724 per year

Primary duties: An air traffic control operator tracks airplanes and provides landing and takeoff instructions. They are responsible for the safety of passengers and pilots aboard the planes as they direct people on the ground and planes in the area. Aside from controlling ground and air traffic, they also assist with the installation and relocation of air traffic control sites.

Related: Learn About Being an Air Traffic Controller

11. Radiology specialist

National average salary: $50,633 per year

Primary duties: A radiology specialist operates X-ray machines and equipment used for ultrasound and MRI testings and CT scans. They review and interpret physicians' orders and radiographic requests. They also assist with foreign body localization, body section radiography and radiographic examinations of patients' nervous, vascular and respiratory systems. When not performing patient testing, a radiology specialist cleans and maintains equipment, keeps track of exam records and develops radiographic film.

Read more: Learn About Being a Radiology Technician

12. Paralegal

National average salary: $50,993 per year

Primary duties: A paralegal provides legal and administrative support. They prepare and process a variety of legal documents such as non-judicial punishment, court-martials and other administrative and justice law matters. They also provide support to lawyers and assist in separation decrees, wills, powers of attorney and family law. Other duties include providing technical guidance to subordinates and maintaining law library records and files.

Read more: Learn About Being a Paralegal

13. Medical laboratory technician

National average salary: $51,052 per year

Primary duties: A medical laboratory technician, also called a medical laboratory specialist, conducts tests on the blood, tissue and bodily fluids of patients. Their work aids nurses and doctors in the treatment, prevention and diagnosis of disease and other medical conditions. A medical laboratory technician performs a range of clinical lab procedures, such as urinalysis, parasitology, bacteriology, serology, clinical chemistry and hematology.

Read more: Learn About Being a Medical Technician

14. Firefighter

National average salary: $52,236 per year

Primary duties: A firefighter puts out and prevents fires. They oversee firefighting and rescue operations during natural cover fires, vehicle emergencies, aircraft crash accidents and structural fires. They also direct emergency response personnel during hazardous materials incidents and maintain records on fire department operations. Other duties include learning how to manage wildfires and conducting controlled burns.

Read more: Learn About Being a Firefighter

15. Nurse

National average salary: $84,440 per year

Primary duties: A nurse is responsible for providing medical care to patients in hospitals and clinics. They also prepare patients for surgical procedures and administer pre-operative and post-operative care. Nurses monitor the comfort and pain levels of patients, help them learn to care for themselves and provide emotional and psychological support.

Read more: Learn About Being a Nurse

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Frequently asked questions

Here are some answers to commonly asked questions regarding a transition from military to civilian jobs:

What do civilian employers look for in former military applicants?

Civilian employers highly value military service, but it needs to be presented in a manner that will benefit the business. Use a resume format that properly showcases your military experience to a civilian recruiter. Pairing your technical and intangible skills from the military will make you a sought-after candidate in every industry.

Should I get a college degree?

A college degree or a certification in skilled labor can provide you with the technical skills and professional network to succeed after the military. Make use of your GI Bill benefits to advance and build what you learned during your military service.

How do I choose a career path?

Choosing a career path after the military doesn’t have to be a permanent decision. To decide what your next career move will be, make a list of two to three career interests and research what experience, education and skills are needed to pursue them. Even if your first civilian role after leaving the military turns out to not be the right fit, the learning experience in your interest helps grow a network of friends and career professionals that can help you reach your professional goals.

Where can I find support?

Local resources can be a great place to seek resources and support. There are schools, local government entities and nonprofits that have tremendous benefits and programs to help former military members succeed after taking off the uniform. And lastly, look to serve the businesses and people around you, it is your best asset, and will help you stand out from your peers.

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