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Spring 2007 Vol. 51, Number 1

Military training for civilian careers
(Or: How to gain practical experience while serving your country)

The inaugural Occupational Outlook Handbook provided
career guidance for veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Harking back to those origins, this article highlights the
career value of military service.

by C. Hall Dillon

Men and women serve in the U.S. Armed Forces for a variety of reasons. Some consider military service a matter of family tradition or patriotic duty. Others want to further their education or see the world. Still others seek the kind of character-building challenges that the armed services offer.

For many people, military service provides all of these things, and more: Another draw for prospective servicemembers is the chance to gain hands-on experience. The military trains people for numerous occupations that have civilian counterparts, such as air traffic controller, plumber, and paramedic. It may help their job search later, too. In August 2005, the unemployment rate for veterans (3.9 percent) was slightly lower than the unemployment rate for the labor force as a whole (4.6 percent), according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But joining the armed services is a serious commitment. Signing a contract obliges service for a specified number of years—and, unlike other employers, the U.S. Armed Forces offer no option to walk away before that contractual period ends. And there’s always the possibility of combat.

In other words, this high-quality training comes with some pretty strong strings attached.

If you’re considering military enlistment as a career-training strategy, this article is for you. It begins with a section describing some of the training opportunities in the U.S. Armed Forces. The next section provides information on decisions related to joining, followed by a section describing life in the armed services. Finally, there are sources of additional information.


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Last Updated: February 15, 2007