If you come from a military family, are currently active military, or a Veteran then you’ve probably heard the term “lifer” before. For many, this is where you are completely and 100% satisfied with your rating and don’t see yourself doing anything else with your life. Thus, the term lifer. However, life also happens. Family obligations, low rate advancement, high year tenure, or simply the desire for freedom to make changes as you see fit, become determining factors as to how and why sailors go the civilian route once more.
Depending on the sailor’s rate and training during their time in, this may not translate as easily as expected coming into the civilian sector. A multitude of sailors find it challenging to gain employment due to lack of certification or higher education. The experience, on the bright side, is invaluable. Not many nurses, for example, could say they put in art-lines, chest tubes, King intubations, perform mass wound debridement, and internal suturing, all while transporting their patient in a utility helicopter such as a UH-60 Black Hawk or on ground under gunfire with minimal supply and resources on hand. This is only a glimpse of the responsibilities and undertakings of a Search and Rescue Medical Technician in the Navy.
The training regimen, countless hours on/off duty, and proficiency acquired should give sailors an enormous sense of accomplishment upon completion of service. Having that said, below is a compilation of ten best Navy jobs for civilian life based on rate:
#1: Information Security Analyst
The Information Technology rating, or IT, operate and maintain global satellite telecommunications in the Fleet. An occupation best suited for an IT professional is an Information Security Analyst who is involved in the protection of computer networking, implementation of firewalls, data encryption, and performing risk assessments. They ensure that proper security measures are in place to safeguard vital digital infrastructure. Information Security Analysts may also respond to immediate threats, such as viruses and security breaches. Median wages for an Information Security Analyst in 2017 was $95,510 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
#2: Commercial Pilot
A Navy Pilot commonly chooses a career as a Commercial Pilot—as you would expect—to navigate fixed-winged aircraft or helicopters. Tasks may include but are not limited to monitoring engine operations and fuel consumption, keeping clear communication between control towers, and determining safest flight routes. Related occupations are Emergency Medical Service Helicopter Pilots who evacuate injured persons or an Agricultural Pilot who fly over farmlands at low altitudes to spray fertilizers and pesticides over fields. Median wages in 2017 for a Commercial Pilot was $78k annually. A career as a pilot often comes with advancement, leadership, and recognition.
#3: Administrative Services Manager
Yeoman are the administrative and office support professionals for the Navy. They prepare correspondences and reports, maintain files, handle telephone communications and overall keep paperwork in orderly fashion. These types of duties and responsibilities correlate to an Administrative Services Manager in the civilian workforce. An Administrative Services Manager’s job consists of planning and coordinating administrative services of an organization to ensure reports are accurate and efficient, creates deadlines for the department, hire and terminate administrative personnel, and oversee procedures and policies to improve operations. Most employees in this field obtain their education in a vocational school, through on-the-job training, or an associate degree. The national average base pay for an Administrative Services Manager in 2017 was approximately $78k.
Being a corpsman myself, I have experienced firsthand the difficulties of finding the best job in the civilian workforce without any certifications or a degree. A quad-zero corpsman may only be looking at a job as a nursing assistant straight out of an enlistment. A nursing assistant performs the most basic of patient care—following directions under nursing staff, transporting patients, assisting in daily living activities such as feeding, bathing, grooming, or changing linens. Even the most specialized corpsman (Search and Rescue or Field Med Tech) won’t be able to apply for a certified nursing assistant job without certifications. What I have started to notice, fortunately, are that some major universities are attempting to resolve this by implementing corpsmen to BSN programs. For instance, at my alma mater, University of South Florida, the college of Nursing created the Veteran to bachelor’s program or V-CARE for service members who wish to pursue a career in nursing. The program recognizes the rigorous training received during time in rate by shortening the time required to complete a BSN.
#5: Certified Executive Chef
Chefs create masterful dishes, but they also instruct, supervise and coordinate activities of cooks and workers engaged in food preparation. They have a strong working knowledge of food production/techniques, distribution of goods, providing exceptional customer services, and management. Other major responsibilities of a CEC are menu planning and pricing, resource allocation, record keeping and ordering supplies. Employees in this occupation benefit from on-the-job experience which is gained as a Culinary Specialist (CS) in the Navy. Preparing gourmet meals for foreign dignitaries and feeding service members on a ship, sub or on shore are both challenging responsibilities.
#6: Secret Service
Navy Masters-at-arms’ training directly qualifies them for positions in the Secret Service, specifically as a Uniformed Divisions officer. The job entails providing protection to the White House grounds, residence of the Vice President, Treasury building, and foreign embassies within Washington, D.C. The pay is competitive, with a new U.D. officer making a base salary of $62k to $67k annually according to Glassdoor salary reports. Additionally, after a certain amount of time on the job with a good record, U.D. officers are eligible for specialty units such as Canine Unit, Emergency Response Team, Countersniper Team, Motorcade Support, Crime Scene Search Unit, Office of Training, and Special Operations Section.
#7: Commercial Diver
Working below the water’s surface is where a Navy Diver thrives. Aside from salvaging wreckage from ships and subs and providing tactical support in diving missions, Naval Divers take part in many construction projects. Installing and repairing structures and equipment underwater utilizing tools ranging from drills to welding equipment is the duty of a Commercial Diver. Common jobs for a Commercial Diver are for offshore oil exploration companies. The average salary for an Underwater Welder is approximately $54k annually. Certification for this career can be obtained in less than a year through select diving schools.
#8: Nuclear Engineer
Nuclear jobs are wide open. It’s a constant need that doesn’t have enough people even in the field to help advance nuclear research. Nuclear research keeps taking a back seat outside of the military because they don’t have the personnel with the knowledge to handle nuclear-specific jobs. Not only is it extremely dangerous but something that requires an extensive amount of education and training. So much so, that the average annual salary for a Nuclear Engineer in 2017 was approximately $106,000.
#9: Facilities Maintenance Mechanic
When things break down, Navy rates like Boatswain’s Mate, Enginemen, Electrician’s Mate and Hull Maintenance Technicians are there to troubleshoot and keep everything operational. The career list is almost endless for these rates. However, in my opinion a Facilities Maintenance Mechanic is the best choice because it incorporates a bit of each. Hourly pay for this line of work ranges from $16 to $25. They can work on HVAC and production equipment of a building to keep it running. Top companies like Jones Lang LaSalle are looking to hire service members to keep their facilities in working condition. BMs, ENs, EMs, HTs and similar rates have valuable on-the-job experience that uniquely qualifies them to fill these job postings. It is almost like they are tailor-made to them!
#10: Air Traffic Controller
There is no room for error when guiding pilots with hundreds of thousands of passengers on board. The United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) offers employment to individuals with previous air traffic control experience, making for a smooth transition from the Fleet to civilian workforce. Notably, the salary reflects the serious nature for this line of work, as the median wage for an Air Traffic Controller in 2017 was $124,540 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data.
As daunting or exciting the transition from military to civilian life may be for a sailor, when there’s a will, there’s a way to achieve the best possible career for your rating. These positions also may not be the final choice but possess the means for growth within the company or elsewhere. One helpful resource I suggest for those having difficulties translating their rate into civilian sector is www.oNETonline.com. You can simply type in your job title and a list of results will appear of similar occupations. Not only that, but the site contains the skills, tasks, salary information, and job listings to help veterans learn about possible career options. The journey may be short and sweet, or it may involve tons of hoops and hiccups, but hopefully this article will be of some assistance to a fellow job seeking sailor in need.