Looking For a Few Good Men and Women
By Nate Dorr
PDF of article (3 pages)
Returning veterans often have skills that translate well into successful civilian careers.
For military personnel, including the 13,000 National Guard members in Minnesota, the transition from military service to civilian life can be difficult.[ 1]
For some, the change in lingo, pace of work and camaraderie can make finding and keeping a job difficult. Employers, meanwhile, often have to find a way to cover for a worker who is on a tour of duty – sometimes for the second or third time – or they are concerned about an employee returning from service with injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder. On top of that, corporate layoffs and slowdowns during the recession have frustrated returning veterans who are searching for work.
Fortunately, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has veterans representatives in all 47 WorkForce Centers across the state to help with the transition to civilian life. The complete list can be found at www.PositivelyMinnesota.com/veterans .
Military personnel have a solid work ethic and specialized training that can qualify them for jobs that their civilian counterparts may not be trained to do. With more than 410,000 veterans and 27,349 active and reserve Army personnel in Minnesota, [ 2] their skills and experiences are relevant to any civilian job. About 40 percent of military occupations require a license or certificate. Table 1 shows occupational groupings for active military service workers. Many of these occupations can transfer easily to the civilian workforce (e.g., electrical repair, materials handling, administrative and machinery mechanics). Even those titled “combat specialties” have a wealth of transferable skills.
|Occupational Groupings for All Military Branches
||Percent of all
|Vehicle Machinery Mechanic
|Transportation and Material Handling
|Engineering, Science and Technical
|Electronic and Electrical Repair
|Human Resource Development
|Machine Operator and Precision Work
|Media and Public Affairs
|Total U.S. Enlisted Personnel:
|Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Manpower Data Center, January 2007
Many of the Military Occupational Classification (MOC) codes can be translated directly into civilian occupations at the O*NET crosswalk site www.online.onetcenter.org/crosswalk. For example, an “explosive ordnance disposal officer” (MOC 2305) might find a civilian “emergency management specialist” (SOC 13-1061) job a good fit. Table 2 highlights some high-paying, in-demand occupations in Minnesota[ 3] that build on military work experience. The table includes job vacancy and wage data.
|In-Demand Occupations for Military Experience, Minnesota
|Computer and Information Systems Managers
|Medical and Health Services Managers
|Public Relations Managers
|Business and Financial Operations
|Compliance Officers, Except Ag. Construction, Health, Safety, Transportation
|Emergency Management Specialists
|Computer and Mathematical
|Computer Software Engineers, Applications
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators
|Computer Systems Analysts
|Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts
|Architecture and Engineering
|Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technicians
|Architects, Except Landscape and Naval
|Health Care Practitioners and Technical
|Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics
|Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists
|Office and Administrative Support
|First-Line Supervisors and Managers
|Installation, Maintenance and Repair
|Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics
|Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists
|Transportation and Material Moving
|Truck Drivers, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer
|Source: DEED Occupational Employment Statistics, third quarter 2008 wage data and second quarter 2007 employment data; Occupations in Demand, March 2008; and Minnesota Job Vacancy Survey, fourth quarter 2008
Military Experience Counts
Veterans are coming home in a tough economy. We know, however, that employers with good-paying jobs are looking for a combination of education, experience and soft skills. Two resources can help military service workers get college credit, certification and licenses for their service. Participants in the Minnesota Veterans Licensure and Certification Program can use military hours to fulfill licensure and certification requirements. This credentialing might lead to careers as commercial motor vehicle operators, electricians, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, X-ray technicians and related positions.
Minnesota Veterans Licensure and Certification Program
Veterans also might consider signing up for a two- or four-year college degree program. Active duty personnel and veterans can get a jump-start on their educations by getting class credits for relevant parts of their experience. Military.com has information on converting military experience and training to college credits.
College Credit for Military Experience
Barriers and Challenges
Military personnel and veterans are well-accepted when they come back. They return with a different world view and are often more mature than their civilian counterparts. Yet, they face barriers and challenges in the workforce. Vet-friendly employers, families and the community as a whole can help these service men and women improve their transitions to civilian life.
Did You Know?
Military personnel are stationed throughout the United States and in many countries around the world. About half of all military jobs in the U.S. are located in California, Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida and Georgia. About 250,000 service members were deployed in support of U.S. military action in Afghanistan and Iraq as of April 30, 2007. An additional 363,000 soldiers were stationed outside the United States, including 168,000 assigned to ships at sea. About 105,000 were stationed in Europe, mainly in Germany, while another 70,000 were assigned to East Asia and the Pacific area, mostly in Japan and Korea.
 The veterans numbers are from 2000 census data gathered by the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. The figures for active and reserve Army personnel were supplied by Paul Voice, U.S. Army media relations, December 2008.
 Employment and job vacancy data come from different sources, so the vacancy rate and number when applied to the employment number may not match.