5 resources for transitioning into a civilian career
You speak military. You dress military. Your entire adult lifestyle is military. But that lifestyle won't last forever.
“The only given with respect to a military career is that it is going to end one day," says retired Col. Garland H. Williams, PhD, who is the associate regional vice president of the University of Phoenix Military Division. "You’re going to have to figure out something else to do.”
Williams himself made the change in 2009, when he retired from a 28-year career in the U.S. Army. He doesn't sugarcoat how challenging the transition can be for military personnel who make the move to civilian life.
For some, the true challenge arises when translating their military training into marketable skills attractive to corporate America. Those without proper preparation and a college education may find they are a tough sell to potential employers, Williams says. For others, the endless options can be overwhelming.
A truly successful transition, he says, requires taking full advantage of the free government resources available prior to military departure:
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) offers departing personnel workshops geared toward crafting resumés, exploring market conditions and assessing personal employability.
Williams recommends addressing all medical matters before vacating an installation because it may be a while before you land a civilian job with health benefits. Acquire your medical records, submit your application to get a rating for veteran disability, undergo all necessary medical tests via the Department of Veterans Affairs, and explore affordable life insurance options for you and your family.
Military-oriented job fairs
Career fairs for servicemembers, including those sponsored by the Military Officers Association of America [MOAA], provide insight into job availability and sought-after job skills. At the very least, Williams says, military personnel can explore what education is needed, as it plays a huge role in getting a foot in the corporate door.
Education and tuition assistance
“The idea that a soldier can come out of the military without a bachelor’s degree and find a good-paying job that will provide a decent middle-class lifestyle is not necessarily true anymore,” Williams says.
Professional development programs
Professional certificates for careers in teaching and project management, for example, can be pursued through continuing education and certificate programs. Williams suggests focusing on these programs just before making a transition. Without them, employment options may be limited.
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