How To Become a Military Contractor
Updated July 22, 2022
There are a variety of jobs that experienced military personnel or veterans can obtain to further their careers. Military contractors can offer their expertise to a wide range of areas including security, supply transportation or equipment repairs.
By reviewing more about the role of military contractors and how to become one, you can decide whether you want to pursue a military contractor as your next career move.
In this article, we define military contractors, review their job responsibilities, include job titles in this category, list how to become a military contractor and provide additional information about skills, salary expectations and the job outlook for military contractors.
What is a military contractor?
A military contractor, or defense contractor, is a military professional who uses their experience working in the military to provide a broad range of services to private organizations and government agencies. This can include organizing armed escorts, performing security detail roles for government officers or embassies and coordinating the movement of suppliers to armed forces in war zone areas.
What does a military contractor do?
Military contractors use their expertise and dedication to help private organizations and government agencies maintain their security. Here are some more specific examples of job duties that military contractors perform:
Acting as an armed guard when transporting important military supplies across national or international territories
Working with a team of security professionals to map out safe transportation routes and defensive procedures for potential terrorism situations
Providing an armed escort for government officials, diplomats and other high-risk personnel throughout the workday or during business travel
Collaborating with special forces to carry out surveillance activities in a war zone
Training military or security personnel in the proper usage of weaponry, self-defense tactics and team exercises
Maintaining a high level of physical fitness to ensure the health and safety of oneself and others in dangerous situations
Receiving assignments from their employer along with set deadlines to adhere to
Organizing a team of professionals to assist them on assignments
How to become a military contractor
Take these steps to become a military contractor:
1. Earn a high school diploma or GED
Earning a high school diploma or GED is the minimum requirement for those looking to pursue a career in military contracting.
2. Consider earning a bachelor's degree
Although not required, prospective military contractors can benefit from completing a four-year bachelor's degree program. This helps elevate their qualifications to employers and helps them stand out during the candidate selection process.
A beneficial bachelor's degree for military contractors is criminal justice or criminal defense. It can also be helpful to participate in a school's ROTC program if available. This program prepares students for military careers and helps them maintain a high level of physical fitness.
3. Enlist in the military or a security role
To qualify for a military contractor role, you have two prerequisite career tracts to consider. In the first option, you need to enlist in the military, complete basic training and assume a military position in either a combat or noncombat role for a few years. In the second option, you need to attend police or special agent academy to assume a role as a special agent for a government agency or a police officer for a local or state government.
Regardless of the track you choose, each provides you with valuable experiences that you can use to highlight your qualifications for a military contract role.
4. Create a bid that advocates your skills to the Department of Defense
After working in a military or security role for a few years, you can apply to be a military contractor by creating a bid and submitting it to the Department of Defense. If the department accepts your bid, you typically have to complete a variety of tests that evaluate your level of physical fitness, weaponry skills and self-defense capabilities.
Related: 15 Highest Paid Military Jobs
5. Consider working for a private military contracting company
In addition to working directly for the Department of Defense, you can also find military contract jobs with private companies that provide well-trained professionals to assist in military activities. Complete an online search to determine the top organizations for employment and how to apply.
Can a civilian become a military contractor?
One of the most common questions about becoming a military contractor is if civilians—or candidates without professional military experience—can become military contractors. If you want to work in a private military contract, you can do so without having served in the military, however, only in certain roles and each with its own set of requirements. The most common include:
Skills for military contractors
Military contractors should have the proper skills to carry out their job duties effectively. Here are skills that military contractors can benefit from having:
Military contractors need to maintain a high level of physical fitness, including strength and stamina to be able to protect themselves and others from potential harm.
Attention to detail
Attention to detail is an important skill for military contractors to have as it allows them to recognize potential threats and take action accordingly. For example, if a military contractor acts as security detail for a political convoy, they need to be extremely vigilant to spot potential dangers and reroute the convoy when necessary.
Military contractors should have excellent leadership capabilities that enable them to take action in dangerous situations. They also need good leadership skills because they may need to lead a team of military or security personnel in transporting goods or carrying out potentially risky tasks.
Calm under pressure
Being able to remain calm in stressful situations helps military contractors maintain their composure so they can give directions, help others to safety and eliminate potential threats to their safety.
Military contractors have a responsibility to work on contractual jobs which requires them to meet and work with different types of people. Having good interpersonal skills allows them to communicate clearly and form strong professional bonds with people who have different personalities.
As part of a military contractor's job, they may need to conduct risk assessments. This helps them identify weak security points in buildings or potential hijacking spots when traveling. Ultimately, being able to evaluate and manage risks within their environment can help them maintain their vigilance and prepare for any situation.
First aid and CPR
Military contractors can benefit from understanding how to dress wounds, perform CPR and offer basic first aid to others. This is important, especially for military contractors employed in warzones or foreign embassies.
Weaponry usage refers to a person's ability to use a range of guns and other weapons in a safe and responsible manner. Military contractors should understand how to use a variety of different weapons so they can train other security professionals and use weapons if necessary.
When military contractors encounter potentially dangerous situations, they need to be able to think quickly and rationally about how to proceed. That's why critical thinking is such an important skill for them to have.
Salary expectations for military contractors
The national average salary expectations for similar occupations like military police members is $41,175 per year, whereas the national average salary for private contractors is $32,480 per year and security officers make an average of $47,539 per year.
Based on these similar occupations and their salaries, the national average salary for military contractors may meet or exceed these figures.
Related: A Complete Guide To Military Pay
Job outlook for military contractors
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for similar occupations like private detectives and investigator occupations can expect to see an 8% increase between 2019 and 2029, while the job outlook for security guards and gambling surveillance officer occupations can expect to see a 3% increase between 2019 and 2029. Due to similar occupation estimates, military contractor occupations may receive a similar growth rate.
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