Your Career Path: Finding the Right Job

Service member welding

What kind of job are you looking for when you leave the military? Many people look for jobs in certain locations, or jobs that offer a certain salary or stability, but there is so much more to finding a great job as a veteran! Finding a career that matches your skills and interests is key to job satisfaction.

What should my career be?

A satisfying job gives you a sense of accomplishment and makes good use of your skills. If you’re not sure about your career path after the military, CareerOneStop is a great way to get started.

CareerOneStop is a website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. It’s a rich resource with lots of tools for job searching, training, and information about careers and industries. At CareerOneStop, you can:

  • Take self-assessments at no charge — including an interest assessment, a skills assessment and more
  • Learn about careers — view career profiles and videos, compare occupations and research industries
  • Find training – including information on basic adult education, apprenticeships, certifications, scholarships and much more
  • Plan your career — set career goals, learn about salary expectations, occupation licenses and professional development

CareerOneStop also offers resources specifically for transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses. Visit their Veteran and Military Transition Center website for more information.

If you are not quite sure whether transitioning out of the military is the right choice for you, and your family if you have one, the following questions might help you make a decision. Take time to discuss all the options and consider how the changes might affect you and your family.

  1. What appeals to me most about the change is:
  2. What I would gain most from the change is:
  3. What is frightening about the change is:
  4. What keeps me from making the change is:
  5. The worst thing that could happen if I make the change is:
  6. If the worst thing happened, then I could do:
  7. If I were really serious about making a career change,
    1. My first step would be:
    2. My second step would be:
    3. My third step would be

It’s never too early to start to think about what’s right for you and your family, especially if you think you’ll need more experience, credentialing or licensing for your new civilian career.

More about transition planning

During your transition planning, you’ll explore your employment and career goals. As part of the Transition Assistance Program, DOL provides a one day core curriculum on the fundamentals of career transition. DOL also offers two additional two-day tracks as part of TAP that do a deep dive into employment and vocational training. For more information about the military Transition Assistance Program, contact your installation’s TAP office, or visit the DOD TAP website.

Learn more on Military OneSource about the Transition Assistance Program, and Transition Assistance Advisors.

When you get a head start on the career you want, you can start planning with confidence. Ask, explore, question, plan and go for it!

Moving After the Death of Your Loved One

Woman sitting with moving boxes

Moving after the death of a loved one can be an important step toward creating your new normal. However, it can be emotionally exhausting. In addition to grieving, you may be faced with deciding where to relocate and worried about what to do with your loved one’s belongings.

Deciding where to move

Some things to consider when choosing your next home:

  • The best location to find support. Depending on your situation, you may find it comforting to move near family and friends, especially if you have young children. You may want to relocate near a military installation for a variety of services for yourself as well as your children.
  • Seeking new employment. You may want to consider looking into employment opportunities before you decide where to move. If you’re seeking employment through the federal government, you may be able to take advantage of special preference programs. Contact Military OneSource’s Spouse Education and Career Opportunities to get a certified career counselor in your corner. Your SECO career coach can connect you with employers, education or other career resources in your current or new area.
  • The affordability of your location. Perhaps you need to relocate to a place that allows you to live comfortably with your survivor benefits.

What’s next?

Once you’ve made a decision about where to move, you may want to:

Take your time with your loved one’s possessions

You, and only you, should decide what to do with your loved one’s personal belongings. When you are ready, you can sort your loved one’s belongings at your own pace and may want to consider asking friends and family for help. Ask yourself questions about each item to help you decide what to do with it such as:

  • Could this item make a good heirloom for kids or grandkids?
  • Would a family friend find comfort in the item?
  • Can I donate it to charity to provide comfort to others?
  • Should I keep it for myself?

Resources

Moving away from the military doesn’t mean that your relationship with the military has to end. As a surviving spouse, you have access to military installations and may access your Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities, commissary, exchange and medical privileges.

Military OneSource can help you through this process. Available 24 hours a day, this free service can provide you help through:

Moving isn’t a one-person job. Tap into the support that is available to you and take advantage of the resources that can help you take this important step forward to your new normal.

What Service Members Need to Know About Employment

Man repairs an airplane

Maybe you’re closing the chapter on your military life and opening a new one, or you’re in the process of making long-term plans. This means transitioning from being a service member to a civilian employee in a company, nonprofit or maybe the government. As a service member, you have many resources available to help you with this significant change. Here’s an overview of what you need to know as you seek employment.

Explore your career path

There’s a difference between a job and a career. Both pay the bills, but a career is more likely to give you a sense of meaning and accomplishment.

Finding a career that matches your skills and interests is the key to job satisfaction. Invest some time in a little soul-searching before you begin your search to make sure you’re going down the right path.

Whether you plan to continue in your current field after leaving military service or you wish to pursue a new opportunity, you should ask yourself two questions:

  1. What are my career goals?
  2. What steps do I need to take to position myself for success?

To help you answer those questions, a self-assessment can help you set goals and plan your way forward. Here are a few options:

  • CareerScope® is a career planning and assessment tool through the Department of Veterans Affairs that recommends career choices based on your interests and abilities.
  • My Next Move for Veterans is an assessment tool to enable you to explore careers, including those related to your military occupational specialty.
  • Career OneStop also offers a self-assessment that includes an interest assessment and skills profiler. The service, which is sponsored by the Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, also offers tools to help search for jobs, identify training and learn about careers.

Credential and leverage your military experience

Your military experience has given you training that converts to skills in the civilian world. The COOL program helps you translate your training into civilian credentials and speak better to what employers are looking for. Here are links to individual service branch programs:

The United Services Military Apprenticeship Program provides active-duty Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard service members the opportunity to improve their job skills and to complete their civilian apprenticeship requirements while they are serving.

DOD SkillBridge connects transitioning service members to career job training opportunities. Participate in training and development with industry and employers who are seeking the high-quality skills that you bring to the table.

The Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program provides transitioning service members with professional training and hands-on experience in the civilian workforce.

Build your resume

The goal of a resume is to effectively summarize and highlight your qualifications in a way that will make the employer want to reach out and schedule an interview with you. These tips will help you build a resume that will stand out.

  • Collect your assets. Get a copy of your Verification of Military Experience and Training through the Department of Defense. The VMET document helps you prepare resumes and job applications quickly when you separate from service.
  • Include essential components like contact information, job objective, summary of qualifications, employment history, education and training, and special skills.
  • Tailor your resume for the job. Translate everything into civilian terms and include volunteer experience.
  • Write a cover letter. Get the name of the person in charge of hiring, keep it to one page and always follow up.
  • Tap into resume-building tools. Check out Veterans.gov and VA.gov.

Find the right civilian job

Your military experience is valuable to many employers, but it’s up to you to get out there and sell it. Start with these tips:

  • Network. Get in touch with friends and fellow veterans. Organize your contacts and connections.
  • Tap into the services of your transition assistance offices. Get referrals for employment agencies and recruiters, job leads and career counseling.
  • Hit job fairs. Look for upcoming events to meet potential employers including:
  • Look for veteran-friendly companies. Many organizations are committed to helping veterans find a good job. Look for programs such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative. Check out organizations like Soldier for Life, Marine for Life, the Military Officers Association of American, Non-Commissioned Officers Association or Enlisted Association, and United Service Organizations. Also, see the HIRE Vets Medallion Award for a list of organizations committed to veteran hiring, retention and professional development.

Other employment benefits and assistance programs

Review some of the top services and programs offered by the military and the government, focused on jobs for veterans and helping you find your new career. Also, check out these employment benefits and assistance programs available before and after you leave the military:

  • Department of Labor Employment Fundamentals of Career Transition: This one-day workshop provides an introduction to the essential tools and resources needed to evaluate career options, gain information for civilian employment, and understand the fundamentals of the employment process.
  • Department of Labor Employment Workshop: This two-day workshop covers emerging best practices in career employment, including in-depth training to learn interview skills, build effective resumes, and use emerging technology to network and search for employment.
  • Vocational Training Track: Participants complete a career development assessment and are guided through a variety of career considerations, including labor market projections, education, apprenticeships, certifications and licensure requirements.
  • Soldier for Life engages and connects Army, government and non-governmental organizations to support soldiers, veterans and families.
  • Marine for Life connects transitioning Marines and their family members to education resources, employment opportunities, and other veterans services that aid in their career and life goals outside of military service.
  • National Guard Employment Support Program supports National Guard Service members in finding meaningful careers and job opportunities as they face the challenges of military life, whether mobilized or in a steady-state posture.
  • American Corporate Partners: Free mentoring program connects Post-9/11 veterans with corporate professionals for customized mentorships.

Match your military skills to civilian jobs, find transition resources, and start your military-to-civilian job search with the resources and information provided above. Check out all the resources for employment on Military OneSource.

Working in the Gig Economy: Taxes on Self-Employment

Woman working on a laptop in a cafe

Many military spouses – and even some service members – have started a business or side job in today’s gig economy. Being your own employer means responsibility for additional taxes and tax reporting.

The basics: There are two regular types of taxes paid by persons with self-employment income – regular income taxes (federal, and possibly state) and self-employment tax. Read on to learn more.

Free MilTax Services

MilTax’s tax preparation and e-filing software is available mid-January through mid-October. And MilTax consultants are available year-round to help with tax questions.

Schedule C and tax filing

In most cases, self-employment income and expenses are reported on Schedule C. The net profit, after expenses, of Schedule C income is then reported on your federal tax return. It is the responsibility of the taxpayer to track all sources of income, even if the source does not report it to you or to the IRS.

Self-employment tax

In addition to regular income taxes on your profits, you’ll also be subject to the self-employment tax. The self-employment tax is the Social Security and Medicare tax paid by those who are not employed by someone else. Anyone who has total self-employment income in excess of $400 per year is required to file a Schedule SE and pay self-employment taxes.

State tax filing

Military spouses may report self-employment income just like their regular income, using the state they are permitted to claim for purposes of taxation.

Non-military income of active-duty service members is not protected under the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act, and service members with income from sources other than the military must file with the state in which the income is earned.

Self-employment can bring tax questions. Military OneSource MilTax offers 100% free online tax preparation and e-filing software, as well as telephone consultations with a tax professional that understands the unique needs of military families. With MilTax, there are no hidden surprises.

Contact a Military OneSource MilTax consultant at 800-342-9647. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options. Or live chat to schedule a consultation with a MilTax consultant or a financial counselor.

About the National Guard Employment Support Program

Service member working on a plane

The Joint National Guard Employment Support Program is vital in supporting our National Guard service members in finding meaningful careers and job opportunities as they face the challenges of military life, whether mobilized or in a steady state posture. Having this “joint” program in the Joint Force Headquarters-State since 2004 underscores this as the Adjutant General’s program, which is critical for success.

A strong Employment Support network has been organized in each state and territory with a Program Support Specialist, and reinforced by partnerships with other government agencies, private partnerships and a synergistic relationship with National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. This Army and Air partnership and coordination ensures that all units and states can readily communicate with each other, and helps resolve issues with employers.

At the state level, the JFHQ houses the Employment Support Program. Additional resources and programs leveraged by Employment Support are often co-located at the JFHQ-State or tied into it in some way. Many of these partners are able to reach across service cultures and touch our National Guard families within their states.

In addition, the 55 Program Support Specialists are the primary resource in providing employment support/opportunities/options to commanders, soldiers, airmen, and families. They can serve as the TAG’s representative on employment issues within the state. They identify, plan, and deliver briefings for mobilization and deployment.

The Employment Support Program has expanded responsibilities recently to include employment facilitation. Program Support Specialists have been recently trained to utilize the CASY-MSCCN case management system for consideration and implementation in their respective states.

Mission and strategy

Mission statement
NGB Employment Support customer focus: Provide employment opportunities and options to develop career-ready service members, prepared/resilient family members, and successfully transitioned members integrated with their community.

Vision statement
Supporting the warfighter, the homeland and developing partnerships by shaping legislation and policy, and affecting outcomes that support the strategic integration of the National Guard in supporting the National Military Strategy through force readiness.

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Job Opportunities in Your Local Community

US flag formation of people

Find workforce development career center websites and veterans representatives by state and territory.

Job Opportunities

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes program assists service members, military spouses and veterans with obtaining meaningful employment. 

Workforce Development Career Center Websites and Veterans Representatives by State and Territory

Click on a link below to connect to your local career center and see what services are available to help you land the civilian job that’s right for you.

For volunteer opportunities with the Civilian Expeditionary Workforce (Contingency Operations positions that place civilians alongside the U.S. military to provide crucial functions), visit the DOD Expeditionary Civilian Program.

Additional employment resources for military spouses are located at the Military Spouse Employment Partnership Program’s Job Search.

For national employment opportunities, you can search for jobs by state with the links below.

Benefits for Members of the National Guard and Reserves

National Guard Salutes

Being a member of the National Guard or reserves has rewards that can’t be measured – the pride of service, for example, and the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping to keep your country safe.

There are other benefits as well. Through programs like Military OneSource, the Department of Defense offers resources, services and tools to help individuals and families navigate civilian and military life. These benefits are designed to be accessible to those who don’t live near an installation. Learn what’s available so you don’t miss out.

Personalized support for your well-being

Service members and their families are resilient. But they also shoulder a heavy load at times. Military OneSource offers free counseling and consultations to help your family stay strong through the challenges of military life.

  • Non-medical counseling can keep issues from growing into bigger problems. Military OneSource non-medical counselors understand military life and how to support families like yours. A non-medical counselor can help you cope with loss, ease conflict at home or work, manage anger or stress, adjust to changes like returning from deployment, and much more. Sessions are available in person, by phone, secure video or online chat.
  • Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultations are all about improving connections with the people in your life – your partner, your child, your blended family. Each track focuses on a specific relationship or situation and helps you set goals and strengthen your communication skills. Sessions are available by phone or video.
  • Health and wellness coaching can help boost your efforts to eat well and get fit, manage stress or cope with a life change. Your coach will help you set goals and create a plan to meet them.

Learn more or schedule a session with a non-medical counselor, consultant or coach by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647.

Virtual tools to bring out the best in you

Access free resilience tools and online apps anywhere, anytime. These tools offer convenience and portability for meeting wellness goals, managing stress, strengthening your relationships and building resilience.

  • Recommended Wellness Apps were developed by the Department of Defense and its partners specifically for military members and their families. You’ll find apps for parents and children as well as those designed to help service members become more mission-ready.
  • Love Every Day is a fun, interactive way to strengthen your relationship with your partner.
  • MoodHacker lets you track, understand and improve how you’re feeling.
  • CoachHub connects you with a professional coaching expert to help motivate you as you work toward your health and wellness goals.

Support for your family’s education and career goals

As a guardsman or reservist, your family is eligible for resources to help them succeed in school – and in some cases, to help pay for it. Military spouses have access to a suite of benefits and services to help them advance in their careers as well.

  • The Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program provides education and career guidance, resources and online tools to military spouses. Services include free career coaching, online assessments, resume help, mock interviews, a scholarship finder and more.
  • My Career Advancement Account Scholarship Program provides military spouses with up to $4,000 financial assistance for licenses, certifications or an associate’s degree. MyCAA is open to spouses of active-duty service members as well as National Guard and reserve members on Title 10 military orders. Spouses of service members in pay grades E-1 through E-5, W-1 through W-2 and O-1 through O-2 who have successfully completed high school and have the ability to request tuition assistance while their military sponsor is on Title 10 military orders are eligible.
  • The Military Spouse Employment Partnership connects military spouses with employers who have committed to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses. The online MSEP job search lists openings at these companies and organizations. You can also take advantage of the Job Search Navigator to have customized job leads delivered to your inbox.
  • The Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve program offers up to 36 months of education and training benefits to eligible National Guard members and reservists.
  • Support for pre-K-12 education for families with children includes information and resources to help you build a strong foundation of learning for your child.
  • The Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library is packed with ebooks, audiobooks, reference books and databases for all ages. The MWR Digital Library also includes online tutoring through Tutor.com.

Expert assistance for navigating life

Sometimes it helps to talk to an expert. Military OneSource offers specialized assistance with a wide range of individualized consultations for many aspects of military life.

  • Financial counseling can help you tackle debt, build savings and more. Military OneSource financial counselors are available in person, by phone and by video.
  • MilTax services includes tax prep and e-filing software, as well as personalized support.
  • Specialty consultations are available for a range of needs for military families, including adoption, education, elder care, special needs and wounded warriors. Specially trained consultants will answer your questions and concerns, provide information and connect you to appropriate resources.
  • New MilParent specialty consultations offer personalized support for parents who are expecting a baby, or have children up to age 5. Consultants can help with common concerns, such as toilet training and sleep issues, as well as those specific to military families, such as preparing your young child for a parent’s deployment. Unlimited sessions are available by phone or video chat.
  • Document translation and language interpretation services are available in more than 150 languages. Certain official documents can be translated, such as leases, marriage licenses, adoption paperwork, birth certificates and school transcripts. Interpretation services are available by phone for service members and their families who need help speaking in English.

No matter where you live or what your activation status is, Military OneSource is available 24/7 for you and your family. Call 800-342-9647 to connect with a consultant. If you are outside the continental United States, find international calling options here.

Start Your Career With Military Kids – Come Grow With Us

Children sing a song in a Child Development Center

The Department of Defense is the nation’s largest employer-sponsored child care system and one of the largest youth development programs in the country. Through the Department of Defense’s career opportunities initiative, Come Grow With Us, you can apply for both entry and management-level positions in many child development programs and youth programs world-wide.

Department of Defense child and youth development careers

Watch this video of the career opportunities available within military child development and youth programs.

Streaming YouTube is currently blocked from DOD networks.

 

As a Department of Defense child development and youth program employee, you’ll enjoy competitive pay and benefits, including:

  • Health and life insurance
  • Paid leave
  • Retirement and 401K benefits
  • Tuition assistance
  • Training, mentoring and professional development
  • Career advancement opportunities

Plus, many of the Department of Defense’s 850+ high-quality child development and youth programs are located on or near military installations worldwide. And, for military spouses seeking employment, spousal preference is offered as well.

If you are interested in a career that offers flexibility and advancement, while providing a vital service to our military families around the world, this employment opportunity is for you.

Some available jobs that may be open in your area include:

  • Child development directors and assistant directors
  • Training and curriculum specialists
  • Before and after school directors
  • Youth program directors
  • Direct care staff

Both entry and career-level positions with Department of Defense programs can be found at:

Ask an Installation Employment Readiness Specialist

Both military spouses and recent college grads from military families can talk to their installation’s employment readiness specialist.

Skills you need to succeed as a child and youth development staff member

If you’re considering a career field in early care and education or youth development, ask yourself these questions to see if you’d fit the qualifications for many entry and management-level positions.

  • Do you have experience with children? Previous experience working with children and youth may give you an advantage when seeking employment. Don’t just count formal student teaching or training, though – an employment history of babysitting or camp counseling will look great to potential employers.
  • Do you have formal early childhood education or youth development training or certifications? Most employers request candidates have at least a GED/high school diploma. Having an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in child development, education, psychology, social work, youth development, or physical education can set your application apart from others. Child care-related certifications like the Child Development Associate, or CDA, or the Child Care Professional, or CCP, credentials may also increase your employability, as do basic first aid and CPR certifications.
  • Are you looking for a rewarding, meaningful career? Few careers offer the chance to directly support military children and youth, offering them the foundation they need to succeed as adults. If you enjoy a challenge and are passionate about working with children and youth, this job opportunity is for you.

Managing Your Career as a Military Spouse During a PCS

Work group at table

You’re beginning a new chapter of your military life. As a military spouse, a successful transition may include finding meaningful work at your new duty station. By tapping into your network of support and accessing a variety of programs and resources, you can continue to advance your career while building a new nest. Here are some strategies to help manage your career during a PCS.

Maximize your resources to help land military spouse employment

Take advantage of all the tools and services available to you to advance your career through location-based, telework or other flexible arrangements. They will empower you with the information and connections you need to continue your career wherever you land.

  • The Spouse Education and Career Opportunities, or SECO, program provides education and career guidance to military spouses worldwide, offering comprehensive resources and tools related to career development, education guidance and employment opportunities. The MySECO website can help you whether you are new to the workforce, advancing your education or established and looking to grow in your career. Check out the My Individual Career Plan, the SECO Scholarship Finder, specialized career coaching packages and self-assessments to help you discover your education or professional strengths.
  • The Military Spouse Employment Partnership, or MSEP, connects military spouses with hundreds of partner employers who have committed to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses in portable careers. Use the MSEP Job Search to find thousands of job postings in your current or new location, including Hot Jobs, positions that need to be filled immediately.
  • Installation spouse employment readiness specialists, accessed through the Military and Family Support Center on your installation or through your service branch, offer hands-on assistance with everything from resume writing and preparing for interviews to resources for portable careers. Most employment installation readiness programs offer workshops, host hiring fairs and partner with local community-based agencies to help spouses and family members find employment.

Update your resume and prepare a list of references

It’s never too early to update or enhance your resume. Designed specifically for military spouses, the MySECO Resume Builder helps you create a resume customized for the position you are seeking. You’ll also want to prepare a list of references who can speak to your accomplishments and skills.

Take advantage of the Military Spouse Preference Program

As a military spouse who is relocating, you get preference when you apply for a Department of Defense civilian job thanks to the Military Spouse Preference program. You can apply for spouse preference for Appropriated Fund and Non-Appropriated Fund federal jobs as early as 30 days before your spouse’s reporting date. Appropriated Fund vacancies are filled on military installations. Spouse preference is available for these positions at pay grades up to GS-15. Regulations are different for spouse preference outside the United States.

Connect with a SECO career coach

Consider connecting with a SECO career coach as you prepare for a move or after you’ve landed at your new location. Career coaches assist military spouses by providing useful resources for managing a career during a PCS, including help with finding education opportunities that fit mobile life, maximizing job search efforts, building your network and exploring portable career options.

Transfer licenses and credentials

If you’re in a job that requires a license or credential, either by state or a national accreditation, you’ll need to transfer your license or credential. Go to the Spouse Licensure Map to find out which states require which types of licenses or credentials and what office you need to contact to transfer them. The state licensing and career credentials initiative is designed to make it easier to transition your credentials to a new state.

If you move due to a permanent change of station, and you pursue the same licensure or certification in your new location, you can apply for up to $1,000 in reimbursement of relicensure or certification fees from your service branch.

Build your network to find opportunities and support your peers

Networking leads to 70 percent of all jobs and is key for managing a career during a PCS. Here are a few places to begin:

  • Join the MSEP Spouse Group on LinkedIn to connect with hiring managers and human resources professionals from the organizations in the partnership, as well as other military spouses.
  • Check out the Spouse Ambassador Network, a group of MSEP organizations that promotes military spouses in communities where they live.
  • Connect with a mentor through mentoring organizations, like the Military Spouse eMentor Program, to find an experienced professional who can offer you guidance and help establish connections.

Explore portable career and temporary work

Portable careers can be ideal for the military spouse life. Explore different portable career paths, learn about opportunities to take your job with you (streaming YouTube is currently blocked from DOD networks), read tips on telecommuting, and use the MSEP Job Search to find telework positions. Develop transferrable skills that make any job portable.

Temporary work can be great for earning some extra savings, gaining experience in your field and exploring different career opportunities. MSEP partner staffing agencies hire military spouses for a variety of jobs, from entry-level to positions requiring a license or advanced degree.

Military spouses are adaptable, resilient and flexible. Employers want to hire you no matter where you land. Use these resources to seize the adventure of your PCS while advancing your career.