Veterans of the U. S. Armed Forces are provided with unique training that applies well to the civilian labor market, and every year more employers are taking notice.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the unemployment rate for veterans 18 years and older was 5.5% last month, an improvement from last year’s 7% average unemployment rate for the entire veteran population. Leading the way are veterans who are finding jobs that match their skills especially well, and that includes careers which tap heavily into their training in such fields as engineering and information technology.
At AT&T Co., 60% of the veterans they hire work as telecommunications equipment installers and repairers. In fact, AT&T is one of the nation's top companies for veteran employment, according to a Military Times study. It's one of four technological and telecommunications companies ranked highly in the study, evidence of the significance of IT experience among veteran candidates. Another highly ranked employer is Concurrent Technologies, which allots an impressive 60% of its recruiting budget for hiring veterans.
Non-profit organizations, such as HireAHero.org, are spearheading the movement to place veterans in jobs that fit their skill sets, while also better preparing servicemen and women for the adjustments needed to succeed in the civilian workforce.
“Our big initiative is to turn that page—get employers to understand who these people really are when they come out of the military,” says Rob Barr, HireAHero.org executive director. He says their mission is critical because job placement for veterans is not one-size-fits-all. Enlisted personnel leave the various branches of the military with training as diverse as graduates of a university, such as those who worked as paralegals and legal assistants in military courts.
Along with IT and legal opportunities, other traits emphasized in veterans’ military training include leadership, thus opportunities as training and development managers are among CareerCast.com’s best jobs for veterans in 2014.
In fact, the companies seeking veterans are as diverse as the training veterans receive from their service. Hire A Hero “works with everything from small, mom-and-pop shops to large corporations,” Barr says.
Still, there remains an uphill climb to place veterans in the right jobs, particularly because the BLS reports that unemployment for veterans of the second Gulf War era/post-Sept. 11, 2011 is still 7.3%, above the national average for the entire labor force of 6.7%.
“Coming out of the military, they have a different mindset [than candidates coming out of college],” Barr says. “They’re told [when they first enlist] to forget about civilian life.”
Hire A Hero is launching a new program and website, EducateAHero.org, designed to help veterans find the right colleges and universities for their GI bills. Further education is invaluable, reports a study from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, which shows that employees with at least a Bachelor’s degree will earn 84% more on average than job seekers whose highest level of education is a high school diploma.
Veteran hiring will also get a boost from the “Final Rule,” an addendum to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which mandates federally contracted employers strive to hire 7% of their workforce from a pool of candidates with disabilities, specifically veterans. The move to begin meeting this benchmark has begun, according to Barr.
“A lot of federal contractors are trying to jump ahead of the game,” he says.
Construction and industrial engineering companies that accept federal contracts will have more opportunities for veterans as a result, and positions including construction program manager and industrial production manager are two of top career options in these industries.
For veterans without managerial experience, industrial engineer technician is another rewarding option in a field likely to grow.
Below are the 10 best jobs for veterans in 2014: