Resumes & Cover Letters

Military to Civilian Title Translations to Improve Your Resume

December 31, 1969

Serving in the military gains lifelong marketable skills. 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 skills and titles in military terms into ones that employers will understand.

Why do you need military title to civilian title translations?

Military veterans need title translations when they are transitioning into civilian life. To get a job outside the service, you will need to submit a resume which will detail all your work experience. Since your work experience primarily consists of your time in the military, this will take up most of the space on your resume. However, the employers and recruiters you're submitting your resume to may not be familiar with the titles you had during your military career. By translating them into civilian titles, you can better show your experiences to this audience. For example, an employer may not know what a Field Grade Officer is, but they will recognize someone who has worked as a manager.

Translating your 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. Below are four steps you can use to make translating your titles and skills a little easier.

Easily apply to jobs with an Indeed Resume

How to translate military titles

You can translate your military titles and terms into civilian ones with just four easy steps:

1. Look at job vacancies

To translate your military titles into civilian titles, you should first scan some job vacancies in the field you're considering. Find open jobs, even ones you don't plan to apply for. By reading through various job descriptions for this line of work, you can get a better sense of the types of positions they are looking to hire. 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 getting a sense of the types of jobs in that field, you can then use the following list of common military to civilian title translations to see how you would describe your experiences:

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

When writing your resume, you'll likely need to translate more than just your military titles. Translating some terms you used while in the service will help you better describe what your duties entailed. This will help better understand what your skills are and what your experience level is. Here are some common military term translations you can include on your resume:

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

On your resume, you may also want to mention the various ARCOMs and MSMs you received during your service. However, overloading your resume with the awards you've won by their official name will make your resume harder to understand. Instead, 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: Veteran Career Advice: Making a Transition to Civilian Life

4. Get extra help

If you're struggling to translate your work in the military to civilian titles, set an appointment at your transition assistance office. This office will provide you with expert counseling and be able to guide you on the best way to structure your resume. They can also provide other resources and help to help you transition into civilian life, so be sure to take advantage of the help they offer.

Military to civilian resume template

On your resume you should look to 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:

Military veteran 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
  • Troubleshooted and solved problems as they arise
  • 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 |