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Bottom Line Up Front

  • Veterans nationwide shared what they value the most in a civilian career. Together with Hire Heroes USA, we identified industries that meet those expectations.
  • Health Care, Government & Public Administration and Defense Contracting were among the top industries.  

Time to Read

4 minutes

November 4, 2019

Did you know more than 250,000 military members transition out of the service each year? The transition to civilian life is a big moment for servicemembers.

To help them land on their feet and enjoy long-term career success, we asked veterans nationwide what they value most in a civilian career—like location, compensation or working at a purpose-driven organization. We then partnered with Hire Heroes USA®* to identify industries and career paths that meet the values that matter most to servicemembers.

Here are the top 10 industries we identified as best after military service.

  1. Health Care. It’s not surprising that the health care industry is the #1 match for veterans’ goals, given the competitive salaries and how well jobs match military experience. Two other benefits that stood out were the strong sense of community and teamwork within the healthcare industry and its opportunities to help people. Some of the most popular career paths include:
    • Hospital Operations/Logistics
    • Registered Nurse (RN)
    • Medical Research
    • Administration (data, records, hospital functionality)
  2. Government / Public Administration. Believe it or not, 1 in 4 vets do some sort of government work. The combination of a competitive salary, opportunities for career growth, a match for military experience/skills, consistent work location and flexible hours/schedule checks a lot of our vets’ boxes. Some of the most popular career paths include:
    • Administration
    • Program Analyst
    • Public Affairs
  3. Defense Contracting. Defense contracting is most popular among vets 45 and younger. Top reasons? Competitive salaries, working for a mission-driven organization, having work suited to military experience and skills, and special programs for vets. Some of the most popular career paths include:
    • Job Functions
    • Analyst
    • Intelligence Specialist
    • Contract Management Specialist
    • Quality Assurance Manager
  4. Information Technology. In an increasingly digital world, careers in the IT field are becoming more popular and lucrative. IT jobs provide competitive salaries, clear advancement paths and a ton of training and development opportunities. Some of the most popular career paths include:
    • Project Manager
    • Systems Engineer
    • Cyber Security
    • Data Analyst
    • Information Security Analyst
  5. Financial Services. Financial services careers work particularly well for younger vets, with more than 1 in 10 in related jobs. Matching benefits include a clear advancement path, training, development and creative/strategic opportunities, and competitive salaries. Some of the most popular career paths include:
    • Analyst
    • Financial Advisor
    • Finance Manager
    • Accountant
  6. Education. The education industry matches veterans’ desires for a mission-driven/team-oriented environment, mentorship opportunities and a consistent work location. For these and many other reasons, 13% of those with college degrees end up in education. Some of the most popular career paths include:
    • Education Counselor
    • Curriculum Development Specialist
    • Instruction
    • Education Administration
  7. Law Enforcement. Law enforcement is one of the industries most suited for—and comparable to—military experience and skills. It offers clear career advancement and fulfills the desire for a mission-driven, team-oriented environment. It’s particularly popular among those living in the western US and those who transitioned in 2001 or later. Some of the most popular career paths include:
    • Police Officer
    • Crime Scene Investigator
    • Emergency Dispatch
    • Corrections Officer
  8. Retail. Retail, unlike other industries on our list, offers incredibly flexible work schedules, along with a consistent work location, a goal-oriented environment and the opportunity to be self-motivated. Veteran employment in retail is highest among those 45 and older. Some of the most popular career paths include:
    • Sales Manager
    • Marketing and Branding
    • Warehouse Logistics
    • Buyer
  9. Manufacturing. Manufacturing is the leading industry for vets without a college degree and for those over 35. This industry matched their desire for a good salary, consistent work location and a team environment. Plus, they can take advantage of specialized training for career growth. Some of the most popular career paths include:
    • Floor Manager
    • Maintenance Technician
    • Production Supervisor
    • Product Line Operator
    • Machine Operator
  10. Transportation/Warehousing. Rounding out our top 10 list for careers that match what vets value is transportation/warehousing, which gives them an opportunity to work with their hands and not have to sit at a desk in a traditional 9 to 5 job. Similar to manufacturing, this industry provides specialized training to advance in the field. It also allows them to be involved with a mission-driven organization and is well-suited to their military experience and skills. Some of the most popular career paths include:
    • Driver
    • Logistics/Distribution Manager
    • Warehouse Manager
    • Package Handler
    • GiS Specialist

Planning for a career after service also means having a financial plan to match. There are differences in insurance and retirement savings when you leave the military, and your expenses and income may change, too. Navy Federal Credit Union is proud to offer tools, tips and resources to help servicemembers succeed as they transition to the civilian world.

Next Steps Next Steps

  1. Explore Navy Federal’s “Best Of” series, including Best Careers for Military Spouses and Best Cities After Service, which helps identify top cities in the U.S. for military members who recently completed Active Duty service.
  2. Check out our Transition to Civilian Life Kit or visit our Military Life page.


This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.