The New York Times recently reported that veterans are working, but not in roles that match their skill level. The problem is that although veterans have gained much skill and experience through their time in the forces, ‘as a group, they are often hampered by the difficulty of converting skills gained in wars to private-sector jobs.’
Unfortunately, this means that the burden of retraining is often left on the veterans themselves. Although there are schemes in place to help veterans with the cost of retraining, you will still need to invest a great deal of your time into it, so it’s important that you choose the career path that is right for you. According to military.com, nearly half of veterans leave their first job after service within a year because it wasn’t the right fit for them. It’s important to consider more than just compensation and benefits. Factors like the overall mission of the organization and a support structure for veterans can be just as important to make a career a sustainable and fulfilling next step for you.
How to make sure you choose the right career path for you
Determining which career path is right for you can be a real challenge! Many people struggle with this question for their entire lives. If you’d like a framework to help you to think about this, Career Key has a helpful step-by-step guide to help you consider the emotional and psychological issues that you may encounter while making such a huge transition. It also offers a guide to help you to get to know yourself and what your values are, so that you can choose a career that aligns with your values and that you are likely to find fulfilling.
Jobs in healthcare have topped polls as a good fit for veterans because of the community spirit and opportunity to help other people – often a good match for people leaving the military. If you think that this would be the case for you, it’s important to embark on your career with an organization that can provide a supportive environment to make the transition as easy as possible.
Healthcare career paths for veterans
There are multiple paths that you could consider if you would like to pursue a career in healthcare. Just a cursory search of available opportunities produces a staggering number of results, and it can be a little overwhelming!
A great resource for veterans is the careers page for the Veterans Health Administration. Many veterans get great satisfaction working in healthcare with the VA because it allows them to work to support the health and wellbeing of other veterans and to improve their lives and that of their families. The VA has resources to help you browse available opportunities and to get more information to help you to decide which career path you want to follow. For example, the page on nursing with the Veterans Health Administration gives you an overview of what nurses at the VA do, and also provides detail on each different nursing career path that is available to you.
Even if you have experience of healthcare through your military career, unfortunately this doesn’t always translate to the credentials that you will need to work in healthcare in a civilian setting. There have been initiatives that allow special operations combat medics to earn a master’s degree credit towards a physician assistant license while serving in operational units, so if this applies to you, these are well worth looking out for.
Most people will need to attain a master’s in their chosen subject in order to embark on a healthcare career. A great thing about working with the VA is that it offers a wide range of scholarships, tuition reimbursement, and loan repayment programs, so cost is one thing that you don’t need to worry about. It’s important to make sure that the course you choose will provide you with everything you need. For example, top-ranked Wilkes University offers a masters in nursing with a focus on helping you to secure the clinical placement, which is essential for you to achieve certification.
Get the support you need
If you are changing careers, particularly if this is your first civilian job, then it’s really worth remembering that the transition can be challenging. It’s definitely worth seeking out all of the help and advice that you can get. Veteran Employment Transition Support provides free guidance, resources, and mentors for veterans. Or, if you’ve already transitioned into a civilian career, you could join as a mentor and help others with their career journey.