5 information technology careers for veterans
Switching from military to civilian life isn’t easy. But veterans who choose information technology (IT) careers have an edge. “IT has a combination of problem-solving, creativity and intensity that fits into the military mindset,” says Blair Smith, PhD, dean of the College of Information Systems and Technology at University of Phoenix, and a U.S. Navy veteran.
Here are five fields in IT that offer career options for veterans:
Whether it’s working for private defense contractors or protecting corporations from hackers, veterans are flocking to this profession. “There are troops whose entire military job is in this area,” says Adam Quintana, enrollment manager for the University of Phoenix Military Division and a former U.S. Marine. “Servicemembers understand how to safeguard information.”
Smith agrees. “Veterans who already have federal security clearances are a natural fit,” he says. He recommends that these veterans pursue a degree in information systems security to prepare for civilian jobs.
Geospatial information systems (GIS)
Today’s mapping technologies incorporate everything from satellite imagery to infrastructure to demographics, and employers need IT professionals who understand them.
“[GIS] is a huge skill area with our servicemembers right now, especially those in the intelligence community,” Quintana says. “Military imagery analysts look at surveillance photos and review data from drones, then use that information to create missions. And there are entire divisions that do nothing but survey [land].”
The most common civilian jobs in the field are with state and local governments. “Municipalities use this technology to monitor their infrastructures and also keep in contact with the public,” Smith says, adding that private companies need GIS experts as well.
“To prepare, you’ll need geography training along with higher-level IT skills,” he emphasizes, noting that the University is developing a certificate program in this area.
Whether moving tanks on the battlefield or getting packages delivered for FedEx, veterans know logistics, Quintana says. “The cool thing about veterans [with logistics experience],” he notes, “is they’ve already done it at a tempo most people couldn’t even fathom.”
However, most military logistics systems are proprietary, so vets need additional training to transfer their experience to the private sector. A bachelor’s in IT is one option. “[Logistics vets] already understand how to improve systems,” Quintana says. “They just need the [preparation].”
Health care information technology
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says health care is the fastest-growing job sector of the economy — and it needs IT pros. “Health care IT is a hot area,” Smith says. “There are [many] different computerized medical devices now, and we need desktop support people who understand both IT and the health care setting.”
Veterans of military medical units are good candidates, though Smith emphasizes that prior health care experience is not always required.
Today’s combat troops often help set up battlefield communication networks, and they can apply that experience to a computer networking career. “This area is on fire with employers,” Quintana says — especially if you have a Cisco Networking Fundamentals Certificate, which can help you prepare for the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA®) exam.
“Ever-changing technology is like the ever-changing enemy,” he says. “Veterans [must] be lifelong learners if that’s their passion.”
CCNA is a registered trademark of Cisco Systems Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and certain other countries.