Adjusting to civilian life after a career in the military can be an immense challenge. Fortunately, the experiences and skills you have developed during your years of service will be transferable to a range of careers.

Approximately 17,000 people leave the UK armed forces each year. Many of these people have spent their formative years, and much of their adult lives in a structured lifestyle. Finding alternative, stable employment is an integral part of the transition process out of the military. Employment can provide ex-servicemen and women with structure, drive and a sense of direction to help them adjust to their new life.

Support

There is a range of support available from the armed forces at the end of your career:

The army offers a programme known as Transition Individual Planning and Personal Development (IPPD) to provide support, advice and education to ex-servicepeople. The IPPD programme is undertaken throughout a person’s military career to ensure all servicemen and women can prepare for their eventual return to civilian life.

The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) allocate funding to support the Regular Forces Employment Association (RFEA) who offer advice on education and career options to working-aged ex-servicemen and women.

The Career Transition Partnership, available for up to two years following discharge, ensures all those leaving the military are provided with resettlement services, including housing, benefits, pensions and career advice.

Transferable Skills

For many people returning to civilian life, their career with the military is the only one they have ever known. Many people lack confidence and assume they are not equipped with the skills and experienced required to find a new career.

Yet, many employers are eager to hire ex-servicemen and women as new employees. People who have worked in the military are flexible, accepting of responsibility, mature and positive in attitude. The skills you have developed include, but are not limited to:

  • Work well under pressure
  • Reliability and flexibility
  • Excellent communicators
  • Leadership skills
  • Team working ability
  • Problem-solving
  • Health and safety qualifications

Along with some of the more obvious skills and attributes, those who have enjoyed a military career may possess a professional security clearance. This may give ex-servicemen and women an advantage over other candidates when job hunting, as many businesses require such credentials from their employees. This includes sectors such as construction, aerospace and finance.

Career Options

Following a career in the military there a range of occupations well-suited to your current skill set. These include:

  • Healthcare: Pursuing a career in healthcare allows ex-servicemen and women to utilise the skills they have learned in the military and channel them into a rewarding career. There is a range of roles in healthcare, many of which could require further training or education. Don’t be put off – there are options available to help students balance studying with work-life, including part-time college or university. The government and business are constantly creating new avenues for those needing training, so don’t overlook the potential in apprenticeships and traineeships.
  • Construction: Many people who have served in the military have developed many practical abilities well suited to the construction industry. If you think construction may be the right choice for you, there are adult apprenticeships to help you get your career underway.
  • Police officer: With a similar skillset to military work required, becoming a police officer is a popular career path among ex-servicemen and women. There are several ways to enter the police force, but if you have served in the military for at least two years, you are not required to hold the relevant qualifications expected of other candidates.
  • Pilot: If you were an experienced pilot in the military, the switch to an airline pilot is relatively simple. This could be a great career option if you enjoyed your time working as a pilot and are keen to carry on in a similar role.

These roles are by no means exhaustive. You should take this opportunity to find a career path that is both interesting and rewarding. If you are required to undertake additional education or qualifications, don’t feel the direction you are interested in will be impossible to achieve. Take a look at our guides on adult apprenticeshipsThe Open University and part-time college and university to see the range of courses available to you.

Next Steps

The first step in your journey into a new career is to consider your interests, motivations and goals. Research the careers of interest to you and pay particular attention to the role requirements. You’ll want to make sure your skills and experiences are well-matched to the role you’re eager to take on.

Take some time to update your CV, making sure you highlight the transferable skills you have developed in your military career. To help you get started, use our CV template. Remember to work on your interview technique to ensure you’re prepared in case your application were to be shortlisted.

If you are still unsure which career is right for you, take a look at our dedicated guide and find out how you can embrace your future potential.