Before joining the military I worked at a detail shop at an Audi and BMW dealer. My job consisted of reviving luxury cars for busy owners. I enjoyed my job but wanted be a part of something bigger and have the opportunity to get more education without student loans. My first trip to my recruiter consisted of me explaining my love for cars and if possible, the ability to do something with cars in the Armed Forces. My recruiter explained to me “of course! We have a job for that”.
Fast forward to today, I work as a Ground Transportation Journeyman in the United States Air Force. Essentially my job consists of driving all types of vehicles ranging from sedans to tractor-trailer combinations and coordinating transportation in order to complete missions. I am part of something much bigger than myself and I learn more about other fields every day. When thinking about the civilian marketability of my current career field, the first thing that comes to mind is driving trucks. Not big rigs due to the high overhead and low income but something that is lesser known but still highly lucrative, hot shot trucking. Hot shot trucking consists of the use of a smaller rig such as a diesel pickup truck to move smaller loads throughout the country. There is much less overhead, an opportunity for millennial entrepreneurship, and with the discipline the military gives you, the opportunity to make your own hours. The money you make depends on your ability to complete more loads and raise your reputation as a reliable hot shot trucker. For anyone thinking of joining the Air Force and think they will not be able to prosper post military, I am going to explain the 10 best jobs in the United States Air Force that help in civilian life.
#1: Air Force Pilot
Contrary to popular belief, just about all branches of the military have pilots and aircraft but for obvious reasons, the Air Force is the first branch that comes to mind when thinking about becoming a pilot. Air Force pilots are among the officer tier which means you must complete a 4 year degree and obtain a commission before getting your wings. The civilian marketability for Air Force Pilots is so extreme that the Air Force is currently giving pilots bonuses upwards of 200k just to fly military aircraft. Airlines such as Delta, American Airlines, and United have things to offer pilots such as more time home, better pay and a better quality of life than within the Air Force. Also, there are private contract pilot jobs that give the pilot a personal client to fly for so they may get the same travel advantages without the military formalities.
#2: Military Intelligence
Needless to say, military intelligence officers and enlisted personnel can be the best at keeping secrets. The military intelligence career field holds civilian marketability just for the security clearance alone. Moreover, military intelligence operators brief higher ups on emerging issues which allow the proper officials to make the most informed decisions which can affect national security. Military Intelligence officials can make careers in the Department of Homeland Security, Border Patrol, National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigations cells and the like. Also, with their gained ability to brief officials, their public speaking skills are some of the best. This skill can translate into motivational speaking and advisement roles to government officials outside of the military.
#3: Cyber Warfare
With the ever changing technology state our world is in, we need people to be able to protect our information and servers from outside sources. The information the Air Force has can be extremely detrimental to national security if placed in the wrong hands. Air Force enlisted and officers work in a capacity of ethical hackers assisting decision makers in hardening security measures on servers that hold sensitive information. Think of them as hackers for good. Individuals that are trained on the hardened security of government systems are a gem to private companies that do not want proprietary information to be released to the wrong people. Just think, if an organization uses a computer or server for anything, they need to be able to protect it. To be able to protect it, they need people to hack it to identify vulnerabilities.
In order to have the best Air Force in the world, everyone has to be healthy. The enlisted and officer personnel that work in the medical field work together to provide just about any service you could get at your average hospital. The Air Force has everything from Dental technicians to surgeons that keep their personnel in tip top shape. One field that will be with us as long as technology is medical support. No matter how much technology in the world we have, we still need people to take care of us when we just aren’t sure about that ache or pain in our back. Many medical fields in the Air Force translate directly to civilian fields that can be quite lucrative.
#5: Air Traffic Control/Airfield Operations
When you have planes, you must have an airfield, and when you have an airfield you must have well trained individuals to run it to decrease fatalities and financial losses due to accidents. Air Traffic Controllers and Airfield Operations technicians in the Air Force can be some of the best in the world. In the civilian realm, there are busy airports that need really good operators to ensure there are no incidents. In the Air Force, there are airfields that have to be able to support all types of military and civilian aircraft ranging from unmanned aircraft, helicopters, fighter jets, cargo planes and even civilian aircraft. They must be able to understand the different aircraft and the way they work while ensuring everything moves harmoniously. Also, they have to be able to work on the fly and handle stress easily because not all military aircraft are planned and things change with politics in the Armed Forces. Coping with stress, working on the fly, and minimizing incidents with various types of aircraft moving together make Air Traffic Controllers and Airfield management technicians highly sought after by civilian aircraft.
#6: Law Enforcement
Whether you work to secure the base and personnel on the base or investigate crimes within the Air Force, military law enforcement officers work to achieve the safest environment for all personnel. Think of it in this light, when getting insurance on your car in many cases, insurance companies will give you a discount for a living and parking your vehicle on base because of the low rate of crime and incidents on military bases. Civilian law enforcement agencies love the experience, physical health and discipline of military law enforcement officers.
When thinking about busy military operations, there is a lot of room for error and fatalities. Air Force safety personnel ensure all actions done are evaluated with risk management protocols that ensure individuals can complete tasks without injury or damage to expensive property. This experience can be used in many fields such as construction, flight line operations, maintenance (plumbing or electrical) and even event planning. Before something takes place, Air Force safety personnel think about everything bad that can happen and attempt to implement a fix to prevent that from happening before the event is even approved to take place. This proactive mindset and attention to detail can keep many civilian companies out of courtrooms and keep workers at work!
#8: Logistics Planners
When you look at the things around you no matter where you are sitting you may find a plethora of different items that originate in many different places. Logistics is the reason why you are able to go where you want for vacation, why you have many of your favorite brands and furniture in your home and even in some cases how your home was even built. Air Force logistics ensure people and cargo get where they need to be when they need to be there and sometimes earlier. The suspense of ordering something from a website and waiting for it to get there is what adds to fun of a job in logistics. Logistics planners can work anywhere there is movement of goods or people. Many people think of just mail handlers and parcel services in the civilian world but it encompasses so much more. If it can be moved, civilian companies need a logistics planner to get it moved.
#9: Command Post/Control Center
Air Force bases have a lot of moving parts and information flow paired with timely communication is key to ensuring Air superiority. Command Post personnel are the sole point of contact no matter the emergency. Command Post personnel ensure, the moment something happens, the correct people are contacted to best deal with the situation to minimize further effects of an issue or speed up the reaction time to get operations back on track. Emergency dispatch centers in the civilian world work in the same way. Civilian organizations highly prefer individuals that have experience in keeping calm in any situation in order to ensure any and all information is relayed in a timely manner. Some organizations can be local 911 operators, the American Red Cross, Department of Homeland Security and even private organizations with high operations natures.
#10: Legal Operations
Air Force paralegals and Staff Judge Advocates work to ensure service members are legally compliant in many military operations and even personal matters. When using tax dollars to complete missions, the Air Force must ensure it is not involved in any financial fraud or misuse cases. The enlisted and officer personnel that complete these tasks are well versed in law in many different applications. Civilian legal practices look for Air Force veterans due to the fact that they have been dealing in federal law and even sometimes state law depending on the situation. Major companies also like to stay out of legal trouble so a team of legal personnel with a high attention to detail to compliance is basically a requirement in this day and age.
When thinking about joining the Air Force and then not knowing what to do afterwards, just think about the fact that for just about everything in the civilian world, the Air Force has a job for it within its ranks. The Air Force has given myself and many other the opportunity to learn how to do a job to be a marketable in the civilian world as well as an educational opportunity to obtain college level education in your field of expertise.