Military to Civilian Title Translations to Improve Your Resume

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated May 25, 2021 | Published October 6, 2020

Updated May 25, 2021

Published October 6, 2020

Related: Job Cast: How to Write a Resume After Military Experience

Indeed hosted this Job Cast to walk through how to build a civilian resume on Indeed as a military service member or spouse.

You gain lifelong marketable skills when you serve in the military. Once you leave the service, you have a wide range of options for what to do next with your life. However, sometimes it's difficult to explain the skills and titles you've obtained during your service, especially on a resume.

In this article, we'll discuss how you can translate your military skills and titles in terms that employers will understand and value.

Why are military to civilian title translations important?

Identifying and using equivalent civilian job titles for your military experience is important because doing so can help non-military employers more clearly understand your background and qualifications on your resume. Since potential employers may not be familiar with military career terms and titles, it is best to translate them into civilian terms. For example, an employer may not know what a Field Grade Officer is, but they will understand the skills and qualifications of someone who has worked as a manager.

How to translate military titles

Translating your military titles is about presenting yourself in terms your audience will understand. Many former military members struggle to find the right words to describe their position within the military or the skills they received while there. Use these four steps to communicate your military experience clearly:

1. Look at job vacancies

Start by scanning job vacancies in the field you're considering. Pay close attention to job descriptions and required skills to see what interests you and what aligns with your background. For example, if you were looking to enter the hospitality industry, you may find a lot of job descriptions looking for personnel managers or team leaders.

Related: Finding a Job

2. Use common translations

After researching the types of jobs available in that field, use the following list of common military to civilian title translations to see how you could describe your career experience:

Military Title Civillian Title
Field Grade Officer Manager or Executive
Commander Senior Manager
Senior NCO First-Line Supervisor
Infantry Security
Force Squad Leader Team Leader
Executive Officer Deputy Director
Supply Sergeant Logistics Manager
Action Officer Analyst
Watch Captain Supervisor / Manager

3. Translating military terms to civilian terms

Next, consider any terms you may have used in your resume that are military-specific. To describe your previous duties, translate these terms to ones that civilians will understand. Here are some common military term translations you can include on your resume:

Military Terms Civillian Terms
Combat Hazardous conditions
Reconnaissance Data collection
Subordinates Employees or team members
Mission Task, goal, function
Company Department, area, section
Military Personnel Office Human Resources
Medal Award Additional skills
TAD/TDY Business trip

You may also want to mention the various ARCOMs and MSMs you received during your service but keep the list brief or simply mention that you received various awards for excellent performance. If there's a specific award that will help you get the job you're applying for, go into some short detail about what that award is and why you were the one to receive it.

Related: Military Career Advice: Making a Transition to Civilian Life

4. Get extra help

If you still need help translating your military experience to a civilian resume, set an appointment at your transition assistance office. Here, you can receive expert counseling and guidance on the best way to structure your resume as well as other helpful resources on transitioning into civilian life.

Military to civilian resume template

On your resume you should include the following sections:

  • Contact information

  • Personal statement or summary of qualifications

  • Experience

  • Education

  • A list of skills

Related: Resume Examples and Sample Resumes for 2019

Example military to civilian resume

John Smith

Experience Summary:
Former military member with a high degree of technical knowledge in computer systems. Over the course of my military career, I worked on a wide range of computer systems, while demonstrating a strong ability for problem solving and leadership.

United States Army - Fort Hamilton, NY
Computer Systems Specialist: 2015-2019

  • Maintained current computer systems to ensure uptime and efficiency

  • Solved problems as they arose

  • Created and implemented policies regarding cybersecurity

  • Trained fellow service members on the proper use of various computer systems

United States Army - Fort Hamilton, NY
Assistant Computer Systems Analyst: 2014 - 2015

  • Assisted the Operations Analyst in day-to-day tasks

  • Completed daily checklists to ensure computer system health

  • Reviewed incident reports to find the cause of problems and design solutions

  • Helped develop a system that tracked readiness among recruits

United States Army - Fort Hamilton, NY
Platoon Leader: 2012-2014

  • Provided individual instruction and training to a platoon of 40 people

  • Ensured team and equipment readiness on a daily basis

  • Developed a training program that led to a 100% certification rate among team members

  • Helped new recruits transition into military life

New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark NJ, 2008
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Information Technology

Additional Skills:
Java | C++ | PHP | HTML | Python | Ruby |

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