Choosing a Career After the Military
What's next for your career?, by Erin Hasinger
The first question you’ll need to ask yourself is if you want to continue in the same line of work you’ve been doing in the military, or if you want an entirely new career. If you want to stick with what you’ve been doing, check out the Department of Labor’s O Net Crosswalk Search. This tool provides a valuable skills translator – after you input your military occupational classification (MOC), it offers the equivalent job based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) standard occupational classification (SOC). The site links job titles to job descriptions in BLS’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. Each job description also includes information on required training, salary expectations and areas of geographical growth. You can search Crosswalk by MOC code or by job title.
If a change is what you’re after, maybe you’re fortunate enough to know exactly what kind of job you’ll want and be able to select a major that way. But if you’re like many college students, you might not have any idea as to where you want to go with your life. One thing to consider is a career aptitude test. There are dozens of these offered online, and while they might not tell you that you’ll have a million dollar future in stocks and bonds, they might tell you that you show a clear interest in finance. Check out one offered by the Princeton Review, or try a simple web search and see what you find. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs also offers career counseling as part of its Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service available to service members, veterans and their dependents.
Here again, BLS’ Occupational Outlook Handbook is a valuable tool. Once you’ve got an idea of the careers that interest you, you can find out virtually everything you want to know about a job here. To help narrow your field of options even further, talk to people who work in the fields that interest you. Look into opportunities for job shadowing to spend the day with someone at work, or think about volunteering or even going after an internship position.
Whether you want to stick with what you know or go for a new career, your military experience can be an asset. Check out the American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation program, which helps participating schools translate military training and experience into actual college credit. You may discover your experience translates into one major better than another, and for many, this could be a deciding factor on which direction to go. Don’t place all your bets on what the website tells you, however. Be sure that the school you’ve chosen participates in the credit recommendation service.
Finally, look into what the hot jobs are. Every year, a myriad of organizations announce the top ten fastest-growing jobs, the highest-paying jobs, best jobs for new graduates, and so on. When you’re making a career decision, these kinds of lists can be very influential. If you’re torn between information technology and environmental science, for example, seeing one at the top of a list can help you understand your chances of getting a job in one field versus the other. Knowing what jobs are growing in your region is helpful, too.
Once again, BLS is a terrific resource. They break jobs down by projected employment growth, median salaries and even top jobs by region. Their Tomorrow’s Jobs Table breaks down the fastest-growing jobs by every conceivable level of education. The site is full of research and projections that will no doubt help you to make an informed decision about your future.
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