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The Best Jobs for Veterans in 2013

Jobs for Veterans By Kyle Kensing

New efforts to help America’s population of active duty servicemen and women, reservists and veterans are effective and have opened up rewarding career paths in a range of fields, including information technology, manufacturing and transportation.

Both U.S. government programs and private industry are heeding the call to assist those job seekers who made the ultimate commitment to country. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden head the Joining Forces jobs initiative, which has brought together 2,000 domestic companies with the pledge of hiring 100,000 veterans, as well as the spouses of active duty military members, by the end of this year.

Of course, helping veterans reintegrate into the civilian workforce is a critical effort for the nation's economy and military. The unemployment rate for veterans is over 10% among post-9/11 enlistees, which is higher than the national rate of 7.9%, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

Some companies have been well ahead of the curve, such as Home Depot, which launched its military employment outreach program in 2002. “Veterans are able to rally [colleagues] to accomplish the mission,” says Eric Schelling, Home Depot's Director of Talent Acquisition.

Many states are creating programs for veterans as well. When the Commonwealth of Virginia launched its Virginia Values Veterans jobs initiative, Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) was one of the forerunners demonstrating the importance of hiring returning military personnel.

“We know our veterans are trustworthy," says Kevin Howell, a veterans recruiter for HII and U.S. Air Force Command Chief Master Sergeant (Ret.). This quality makes veterans great hires, he adds.

HII received recognition from the Virginia Department of Veterans for its employment of veterans at the company’s shipbuilding headquarters in Newport News, Va., which is in the center of the most highly concentrated population of service members in the country.

Citing “core values of integrity and safety,” Howell says teaming with the Armed Forces to fill its hiring pool is a winning tactic for HII. In turn, the company offers a wide range of career paths for veterans, including industrial production managers and ship engineers, but the qualities Howell cites also translate well to managerial positions, he says. The leadership and organizational skills developed in the military help those veterans qualify for positions that require team building and leadership, Howell explains.

When reviewing potential civilian careers for former members of the military, 10 positions rise above the rest for their ability to tap into the skills and traits developed by most veterans, as well as their availability in the job market. Using data from the CareerCast Jobs Rated report, here are the 10 jobs best suited for military veterans:


  • Software Developer

    Median Salary: $90,530

    Information technology’s growing role in the Armed Forces offers service members real world experience, applicable in the corporate environment. One of the active companies participating in the Joining Forces initiative is Intel, which developed its own Veteran Employment Training program to help veterans transition their skills into the software company’s mission.

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  • Training and Development Manager

    Median Salary: $89,170

    Problem-solving techniques and effective crisis management are two chief qualities the Armed Forces emphasize that are also required of training and development managers. Companies can tap veterans to prepare trainees and get them up-to-speed quickly. “We have a lot of young folks in our company,” Howell says. “Veterans bring…attitudes of leadership and work ethic to help others along [in learning the job].”

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  • Industrial Production Manager

    Median Salary: $87,160

    A renewed emphasis on manufacturing jobs as a part of the nation’s economic recovery overlaps with the mission of most veteran outreach and re-employment programs. For example, last fall some of the nation's top manufacturing companies launched the Get Skills to Work Coalition, designed specifically to ready veterans for jobs in industrial production.

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  • Construction Program Manager

    Median Salary: $83,860

    An improvement in construction prospects around the nation coincides with increased demand for veteran hiring. The construction industry has been near the forefront of that push, recruiting construction program managers from such sources as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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  • Ship Engineer

    Median Salary: $79,920

    Working with a company like HII is attractive for veterans, says Kevin Howell, because its contractual relationship with the U.S. Navy for ship production gives veterans the opportunity to continue working with Armed Forces. “The nature of our work [assisting in ship production] gives veterans the ability for them to continue to serve,” Howell said.

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  • Administrative Services Manager

    Median Salary: $77,890

    Team building and oversight qualities required from an administrative services manager make this career a natural fit for veterans. In a solutions-providing atmosphere such as retailing, military personnel bring unparalleled insight, says Eric Schelling at Home Depot.

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  • Telecommunications Equipment Installer and Repairer

    Median Salary: $54,710

    Each branch of the military deals with the most sophisticated telecommunications equipment in the world. The technicians charged with installing and maintaining this equipment enter the workforce with unparalleled insight and applied knowledge which typically exceeds the skills offered by recent college graduates who lack this real-world experience.

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  • Industrial Engineering Technician

    Median Salary: $48,210

    Many of the nation’s top energy companies rank among those firms that have expressed the greatest interest to the Veteran's Administration in hiring returning veterans. These businesses, such as Chesapeake Energy, tap into veterans’ efficiency insights and exposure to heavy equipment, as well as their training as engineers in these programs.

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  • Train Engineer and Operator

    Median Salary: $46,100

    Both commercial and freight train companies were among the first to pledge to the Joining Forces initiative. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced his department’s pledge to hire 5,000 service people and family members to jobs in the rail industry. A healthy compensation package makes train engineer and operator an attractive option for veterans pursuing this path, and experience gained with heavy machinery while in service gives the most qualified personnel a leg up in qualifying for the role.

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  • Heavy & Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver

    Median Salary: $37,770

    Many U.S. trucking companies are facing skills gaps, which makes filling vital positions increasingly difficult. Legislation passed last year is aimed to help the industry meet the 21% growth in trucking industry jobs that the BLS estimates by 2020. The legislation also eases licensing restrictions for service people who have frequently moved, and thus might not otherwise be able to receive state certification.

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