Retiring from active service can be a really difficult time for many people. Returning to the routine of civilian life can be hard enough on its own, even without the stress of worrying about starting a new career.
My advice would always be to take it slow, and not jump straight into the first opportunity that comes your way. Depending on the branch of the military you were in, you likely have a lot of transferable skills that could land you an enjoyable and lucrative new career.
The trick is to think about your priorities. Military service can be really tough on your relationship with your family, and so many ex-soldiers prefer to take a job that gives them plenty of time at home, rather than going for the highest-paying positions.
On the other hand, if you perform well under pressure, there are a range of careers available to you in which your military skills will be prized, and could lead to significant earnings.
Today, I’ll take you through four of the most popular new careers for those leaving the military, and give you a run-down on what you can expect to earn, how stressful each position is, and the skills you will need.
1. Intelligence Analyst
No matter what branch of the military you served in, it’s likely that you had to sift through sensitive data and make decisions based on it. Many Government departments value these skills, as well as your proven record in a high-security environment.
Working as an intelligence analyst can include processing information on a wide variety of subjects, from international geo-politics to financial markets. It can be fast-paced, but because the majority of your work is office based, you should still have plenty of time for your family.
After a few years of training and experience, you can expect to earn $85,000 as an intelligence analyst, and prospects for promotion and ongoing career development are excellent. You can find military-friendly companies here.
2. Defense Engineer
If you want to stay as close as possible to the front line, and be at the forefront of developments in the military, becoming a defense engineer is a good option. Careers in this area are very varied, so you may not need an engineering qualification to get into defense engineering.
In fact, a lot of defense companies hire ex-military personnel for their experience of using the products they design. In this career, your first-hand experience of firearms, personal protective gear such as shooting glasses and holsters, and even combat clothing, can be a real advantage.
Salaries for defense engineers vary widely depending on what kind of role you are employed in, but even for consulting on and testing new products you can expect somewhere in the region of $60,000.
3. Law Enforcement
Becoming a law enforcement officer after you leave the military – whether as state level police or even as an FBI agent – can be great for some people, and not so good for others. Some veterans find that being in a command structure can make the transition to civilian life easier. Others say that, after the stress of being in the military, the last thing they want to do is to put themselves in dangerous situations again.
That said, law enforcement is one of the areas where your military skills are in very high demand, and the pay for jobs like this can be pretty good. As an FBI agent, for instance, you should expect to be paid $154,000 after a few years of training and experience.
4. Management Consultancy
Going into management might seem like a strange choice for ex-military personnel, but many find that they thrive in this environment. If you have been managing soldiers in the field, this experience is great preparation for leading employees in a business environment.
Management consultancy is also a good option if you are looking to maximize your time at home with your family. If you work as a freelancer, you can decide how much you work, and design your schedule around yourself.
Perhaps most importantly, however, as a management consultant the sky is the limit in terms of salary. If you market yourself correctly and make the right decisions, you could well find yourself on more than $200,000 per year within just a few years.