- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Boots to Stethoscopes: Healthcare Industry Spotlight
by Janet Farley, Contributing Editor

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You’re transitioning out of the military and you need a job, stat.

While the thought of leaving the known for the unknown may cause your heart to palpitate and your blood pressure to rise, you can get a grip on things if you sit back and relax. Breathe deeply. Breathe slowly. You don’t even have to stick out your tongue.

You just have to research the possibilities, and there are many of them in the world of civilian healthcare.


The Future’s So Bright…
If you were a betting man or woman, you would want to consider placing your money on the healthcare industry. In 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports, jobs in this industry hit the trifecta by making the highest paying, fastest growing and most new jobs projected lists.

Add to that the encouraging news that there is a genuine desire of many employers today to hire our nation’s finest and their spouses into their civilian ranks.

Finding Your Fit in the Healthcare Industry
If healthcare is already a part of your military role, you certainly have a leg up in making a smooth transition. Depending on what you do and where you want to do it, you may need to upgrade from your military credentials to civilian ones.

To find out more about civilian certifications pertaining to your specific military career field, check out Army Credentialing Opportunities On-Line, Navy Credentialing Opportunities On-Line or the Community College of the Air Force. If you cannot access the Army and/or Navy COOL sites from your home computer, try accessing them from a DoD computer or visit to the education center on your military installation for more information.

If you are not exactly sure how your military job title translates into a civilian one, you can plug in your MOS/MOC into any number of online translators such as the Feds for Vets or the O*Net Military Crosswalk Search. Some employers even tailor similar tools on their websites to match job openings within their organizations.

You can also contact healthcare professional associations such as the American Medical Association, American Nurses Association and the American Association of Medical Assistants to find out more about the civilian employment requirements in your area of expertise.

If the closest you’ve come to working in healthcare while in uniform was sitting in the clinic’s waiting room, never fear. There are still a surprising number of possibilities for you to consider. To identify some of those jobs, consult the examples that follow.

Breaking into a whole new career field means you must have realistic expectations and be able to clearly identify your transferable skills. Don’t sweat it. Everyone has to start somewhere. In this case, and assuming you aren’t going to school full-time, get your foot in the door where you can and do your best regardless of how entry-level the job may be.

And don’t forget the power of karma here. Remember to appreciate the grunt work as you begin your journey so you will one day be grateful when someone else does that same grunt work for you.

Finally, network with other healthcare professionals. Seek out some of the healthcare industry-related companies found on the Most Valuable Employers (MVE) for Military list such as DaVita Healthcare Partners who hired more than 359 veterans last year, 30 of them into leadership positions.

Highest Paying Healthcare Jobs
It should come as no surprise that surgeons and physicians claim first place on the list of highest paying occupations with an annual salary range of $148,160 to $172,330.

If you’re ultimately targeting this upper echelon of the healthcare industry, then prepare yourself for many years of school.

Occupational examples include psychiatrists, family/general doctors, prosthodontists, dentists, pediatricians and nurse anesthetists.

Fastest Growing Healthcare Jobs
You don’t have to spend years in college and medical school to work in healthcare. Some of the fastest growing jobs don’t necessarily require a degree (see chart below).

If you want to research any of these occupations in more detail, visit the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook or Explore Health Careers.

Medical and Health Services Management
You don’t have to wear a white coat, administer CPR or change bedpans to work in healthcare. You can leave the hard work of patient care to others and focus instead on medical and health services management. PowerPoint warriors of the military, rejoice!

Healthcare executives or administrators wear the polished suits as they plan, direct and coordinate all medical and health service-related matters. The median annual wage is about $88,580 per year and employment is expected to grow by 23 percent. Entry-level positions usually require a bachelor’s degree.

Other management-related job titles include community services liaison, hospital administrator, operations director, clinic manager and market development manager.

Attorneys, insurance advisors/agents, field service technicians who service medical equipment, pharmaceutical sales agents and benefits advisors can also find a comfortable home in the healthcare industry.

There now. That didn’t hurt one bit, did it?

Janet Farley is a work place and careers strategist and the author of several job search books to include Quick Military Transition Guide: Seven Steps to Landing a Civilian Job (Jist/EMC, 2013). Follow her on Twitter @mil2civguide for news you can use in your own transition.

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