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It's no secret that after serving your country, making the transition from the military to a civilian career can be a challenge. However, it can be comforting to know that many organizations and resources across the United States are available to assist people experiencing this transitional stage in their career. In fact, the private sector has committed to or has already hired nearly 700,000 veterans and military spouses since 2011.*
So what steps do you need to take to find that new career that's waiting for you?
First, it's important to think long and hard about what you want to do. What are your strengths? What are you passionate about? What are your interests? Are you a leader, self-starter, or great team player? Are you tactical, taking pleasure in the hands-on aspects of completing a project, or more strategically oriented?
Taking some time to self-reflect is a great start to finding a career that is a good match for your skills, strengths, and aspirations. For many military personnel, industries such as homeland security, nursing, business, information technology, management consulting, and industrial technology can be a perfect fit because so many military skills can translate to jobs in those fields. However, even if you prefer to go into a field unrelated to your military duties, the world-class training you received is a powerful asset in the eyes of many employers.
Next, consider how your education matches up with your short list of career interests. If there is a gap, a completed degree may not be far out of your reach. Many schools award college credit for military training, which could shorten the path to a degree.
At Kaplan University, you can earn credit toward an undergraduate degree for prior studies at other schools, your military occupation, training courses, and examinations such as CLEP and DANTES.† Depending on your military occupation, level of service, and choice of program, Kaplan University offers special degree pathways that could reduce the coursework you need to earn an associate's degree by a maximum of 73% or put you more than halfway toward a bachelor's degree.‡
In addition, Kaplan University's course assessments and external competency exams can help determine your class placement, and passing students may earn college credit-or have prerequisite classes waived. Make sure to look for classes that provide credit for learning gained outside of the traditional classroom, such as EL 203, a portfolio development class, and Documenting Your Experience for College Credit (LRC 100).
In total, you can apply prior learning credit toward a maximum of 75% of a Kaplan University undergraduate degree.§
It's also helpful to start thinking of how to develop your resume, including how to parlay your particular skill set into qualifications that a new employer might be seeking. Many veterans make the mistake of dismissing their military training because it doesn't translate verbatim to civilian job descriptions. Your experience is highly respected; however, you need to be able to communicate these skills to employers. Various websites, including www.military.com, offer skills translator resources that can be extremely valuable in helping you position yourself for a new job in life outside of the military. In many cases, you will find that you can cite multiple examples of prior duties that correlate to the attributes an employer is seeking. This is an opportunity to showcase your past experience with one of the most demanding employers in the world-the United States Armed Forces.
Once you have a resume completed and you are ready to start the search for your first position, it's beneficial to identify the companies or organizations interested in supporting our country's veterans. The new government employment center on www.ebenefits.va.gov connects veterans, servicemembers, and their beneficiaries with public- and private-sector employers.
Finding the right tools and resources can help save time, money, and frustration as you begin your transition into civilian life.
Remember, as a former servicemember, you are in high demand. College credentials, military training, on-the-job military experience, and the discipline and leadership skills inherent in military service can provide you an incredible edge in your career search. With your talent and training leading the way, there is no limit to what you can achieve. Map your career journey to picking a civilian career.
Kaplan University cannot guarantee employment or career advancement.
* Kaplan University does not guarantee the transferability of credit from any of these sources. See the University Catalog for our Transfer of Credit and Prior Learning Assessment policies.
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