- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

2009 Hot Jobs for Military
by Heidi Russell Rafferty, Contributing Editor

Article Sponsored by: Vinnell Arabia

Navy Lt. Lance Amy’s military experience combined nuclear engineering on submarines, logistics with the Navy’s Civil Affairs Unit, deploying forces in support of nation-building, and humanitarian assistance operations. That combination equates to a one-two knockout punch for many employers since engineering and logistics are currently two of their hottest employment needs and that will continue into 2009.

Because of his skills, Amy could cherry-pick his employer. He finished his MBA at the College of William and Mary and started a job with The Dow Chemical Company, where he is a project manager in Global Logistics Purchasing.

Do not worry about the weakening economy if you are exiting the military in 2009, say job forecast experts. Military veterans are top picks for many companies. It is just a matter of matching your skills to the demand, they say.

Here are four categories of 2009’s Hot Jobs:

College-educated and technical skills: You’re golden if you have pursued engineering, especially environmental engineering, which is “coming back strong,” says Ted Daywalt, president of VetJobs in Marietta, Ga.

Additionally, “A lot of companies like hiring military for sales, because military people are tenacious and persistent.” Daywalt says. “Technicians that can keep equipment going are also always in demand. And information technology is a hot area for the military, because in the last 15 years, the military has computerized and used technology to replace bodies.” Internet security is particularly a good field, he says.

The demand for health care workers also is not going away, especially as the baby boomers age, Daywalt adds. “Military do real well in managing and running hospices. They’re used to death and have an understanding most people don’t have,” he says. “And it takes a year or two to get their certification, but they start in the $70,000 to $100,000 income range.”

Trained on-the-job: Your day-to-day military experience brings unique skills to other hot job areas, says Dr. Laurence Shatkin, author of, “150 Best Jobs Through Military Training.” The key is to find jobs that companies are unable to outsource overseas, he says.

Top jobs include dental hygienists, law enforcement, repair-manufacturing jobs like auto mechanics and avionics technicians, computer support specialists, paralegals and legal assistants, radiologic technicians, first-line supervisors (managers of construction trades) and municipal firefighters, to name a few.

“While you’re in the military, look for apprenticeships. Get a journey worker status. There are some programs where you can get the credential before you come out,” Shatkin says.

Unique company opportunities: Sometimes there are “hot jobs” that aren’t part of a nationwide trend but are available in abundance at specific companies.

One of the hot jobs in the railroad transportation industry is freight conductor, says Margaret Downey of CSX Railroad. This entry-level job often leads to the position of locomotive engineers or first- line transportation officer, she says.

CSX will hire more than 1,600 freight conductors in 2009 across its 23-state network. “Military members transition well into the freight conductor job, since the position requires a safety conscious person who can self-manage in a 24/7 environment,” Downey says.  A freight conductor leads the train crew and is often responsible for a train containing two or more locomotives valued at two million dollars each.  Along with 80 to 100 carloads of freight valued at hundreds of thousand of dollars of freight.

Professional truck driving is a hot job for exiting military and those still serving in the Guard and Reserves, says Belinda Donovan, spokeswoman for Con-way Freight and Con-way Truckload. That company is working hard to recruit.

Con-way Truckload anticipates it will have 2,800 open professional truck driving positions in 2009. Fifteen percent of applicants/new hires have military backgrounds. To be a professional truck driver at Con-way Truckload, interested individuals must have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), a good driving record and be willing to provide excellent customer service. Con-way Truckload is also looking for team drivers —  typically husbands and wives, good friends or family members willing to share a truck together, she says.

At Dow, the company will continue to see a lot of opportunities in the supply chain purchasing area as well as in the engineering field in 2009, says Marcia Thomas of Dow’s Workforce Planning. The company has also launched a new recruiting strategy for professional and executive positions. Also, Dow is partnering with military installations to recruit operator technicians for its manufacturing facilities, she adds.

Unique local opportunities: You can also narrow your search for hot jobs to regional needs. West Hills Community College District, based out of Coalinga, Calif., has just finished a master plan to help students target such opportunities in the local economy. The college’s Lemoore campus is near Naval Air Station, Lemoore, and the school has a veterans’ placement program.

That area of California houses a number of correctional facilities, says Dr. Carole Goldsmith, director of Workforce Vocational Programs. Veterans receive preferred hiring status if they want to become correctional officers, she says, and pay ranges from $3,600 to $4,000 per month, before overtime.

One unique position is “psychiatric technician,” a hybrid of a correctional officer and a nurse who treats violent sexual predators, Goldsmith adds. “You receive the same medical training, only you also learn how to subdue people without harming them,” she says.

The largest industry in the area is agribusiness, and the second-largest is health care, says Pedro Avila, institutional researcher at the college. In particular, schools nationwide can’t produce nurses “fast enough,” he says.

You may be surprised that there are many opportunities in your current area, Goldsmith adds. “We’ve seen that most of the service members in this area do want to stay here. While they may not have family here, they’re putting down roots with their young families. We have affordable housing compared to the rest of California,” she says.


Freelancer Heidi Russell Rafferty is a reporter with 19 years of experience, who writes about employment and business issues.

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