- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Energy and Construction: Jobs Galore in 2016

By Heidi Lynn Russell, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: Eaton

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Broad career options are available to military veterans in two strong industries with bright economic outlooks: energy and construction. Many veterans already possess an advantage in the civilian labor market due to their technical skills, training and leadership experience. Combine these advantages with two industries on the rise, and you have a strong case for employment opportunities. In energy, your positive prospects are driven by a few trends, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Electricity use continues to rise each year, Baby Boomers are retiring and new jobs are being created by a push for renewable energy. Covanta Energy Corp. of Morristown, NJ, is one of those energy companies.

“The companies looking to hire transitioning veterans are keenly interested in those who can come up to speed quickly,” says Vineet Wadhwa, Covanta’s Director of Talent. “I would recommend making good use of the many resources available to help translate your military skills and experience into the context of the job you are applying for.”

Likewise, in construction, the future is positive, says Christopher McFadden, VP, Communications and Marketing at Turner Construction Company of New York City. Construction laborers alone are projected to grow 25 percent through 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations, BLS says.

“What’s driving the job market is the available work we have. The markets are extremely active and looking to grow into next year. In a report from the U.S. Commerce Department, we see that work in construction topped a trillion dollars on an annual basis in October. Try to put a trillion dollars of work into one year. You can see that we need a lot of people to do it,” McFadden says.

Here are the top career needs from three energy companies and three construction companies looking to hire you.

Energy Industry

Covanta Energy Corp. ( The Electrical and Instrumentation (E & I) roles at Covanta Energy Corp. are some of the more challenging to fill, says Vineet Wadhwa, Director of Talent. “Many transitioning veterans from different branches of service have experience with a variety of electrical, instrumentation and control systems. The skills they have developed in the military tend to be highly transferrable to our operations,” Wadhwa says.
Examples of some recently hired veterans in E & I roles include: a Coast Guard Petty Officer Second Class Electrician’s Mate, an Air National Guard Aircraft Technician and a Marine Avionics Calibration/Repair Technician. Other roles that have served as an entry point are operator and mechanic jobs such as Auxiliary Operator, Utility Operator, Equipment Operator and Maintenance Mechanic, Wadhwa says.

Covanta is a world leader in sustainable waste management and renewable energy. Its North American facilities annually convert 20 million tons of trash into clean, renewable energy for approximately one million homes.

Wadhwa expects continued job growth in 2016. “Veteran hiring continues be a vital part of our talent acquisition strategy,” she says, adding that more than 15 percent of the total workforce is former military.

“We always seek to hire as many qualified veterans as possible every year.”

Eaton Corp. ( Eaton Corp. always has a high demand for field service technicians and engineers - many to support one of the company’s most popular products, the Uninterruptable Power Supply (a backup service when power goes down).

“These opportunities are available throughout the U.S. It’s an ideal career for individuals who would rather support customers in a region, versus going to the same facility Monday to Friday. Candidates who have electrical maintenance expertise are ideal fits - particularly those who have supported high power distribution systems. This includes military professionals who have served in the Navy’s nuclear power program and Army and Air Force Prime Power,” says George Bernloehr, Senior Military Talent Acquisition Consultant.

Eaton is a large manufacturing company, providing power management solutions for its customers. Looking ahead to global “mega trends” that impact power management, Bernloehr says there is an ongoing demand for products that Eaton produces for buildings, transportation, infrastructure, IT, industrial and machinery and utilities. Currently, five percent of the employees are veterans, but in 2015, they represented approximately nine percent of U.S. hires.

Bernloehr suggests first exploring Eaton’s military landing page where you can learn about the company, search all openings and use a link to engage military recruiters.

Xcel Energy ( Line workers and engineers (mechanical, electrical, nuclear and civil) are all in demand at Xcel Energy, says Bev Brown, Director of Inclusion & Engagement. The company projects a retirement rate of up to 40 percent in three to five years.

Line workers, represented by unions, climb poles to restore power in extreme weather conditions.

Xcel operates in Colorado, Minnesota, Texas, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico and Michigan. All states have varying training requirements for line workers, such as an apprenticeship that can last up to four years. Pay varies according to bargaining agreements, but entry-level workers can make more than $40,000 and quickly see increases.

“You have to have a passion for being out in extreme conditions, like tornadoes, snow and blizzards,” Brown says.

Xcel also seeks electrical and nuclear engineers for power plant positions and mechanical engineers to work on infrastructure. “A significant number of engineers are retiring Ð quite a few Baby Boomers,” Brown says.

One tip: Put your MOS code at the top of your application, as well as your military job title. “It makes it easier for a recruiter to see that you are a veteran, and I will look at it,” Brown says.

Construction Industry

Bechtel (
Bechtel’s top need among its professional ranks (known as “non-manual” jobs in the construction industry) is for Startup Engineers, says Larry Melton, Global Manager of Human Resources. Startup engineers handle facility startup and commissioning.

Officers and non-commissioned officers with technical MOSs (combat engineer, nuclear, logistics officers, for example) have success in this area. “If they come in as a former captain or lieutenant, we can put them in some of the positions and develop them over a longer period of time,” Melton says.

In “craft” jobs - those that do not require engineering degrees - the No. 1 need is pipe fitter. “It’s a big need across the industry. If you have someone who was a Navy hull tech, they’d be the closest to a journeyman pipe fitter,” Melton says, adding that if you are a plumber in the Army, Air Force or Navy, you also have general knowledge to do the job. You can obtain an apprenticeship and work your way into a journeyman’s position.

Opportunities are not limited to the United States. Bechtel works in remote regions in countries such as Mozambique, Angola, the Middle East, South America and Eastern Europe. To apply, check out the company’s veteran hiring page. The company also posts opportunities on its LinkedIn page.

BMC (Building Materials and Construction Services) (

In December, BMC merged with Stock Building Supply of Raleigh, NC, creating BMC Stock Holdings Inc. and enlarging its hiring footprint to cover 17 states. Established in 1987, BMC provides the lumber, trusses, doors, windows and design products that help keep America building.

Framers (those who frame houses) and carpenters are the top two jobs to be filled, says Celinda Downey, Human Resources Director. Work is seasonal, but if you’re in a northern state, you can always move to a BMC site in a southern state.

“That’s what’s nice about being part of a big company. You can hop to other states for employment opportunities. Maybe you want to live in Boise (Idaho), but you have family in Las Vegas. In the winter, you could work there and then come back here,” Downey says.

The company also will be hiring installers (those who install doors and insulation and provide other services like garage door installation after houses are framed). And it needs people to assemble trusses at manufacturing plants, as well as CDL-licensed truck drivers to haul lumber, Downey says.

She adds that if you have supervisory experience from military service coupled with construction knowledge, BMC wants to talk to you. Openings are posted on the company’s website.

Turner Construction Co. ( Turner Construction Co. doesn’t “hire for the project, but for the career and the position,” says Christopher McFadden, Vice President, Communications and Marketing. Turner, a general builder and construction management firm, has about 5,200 professional staff and 2,500 labor positions.

Opportunities run the gamut, and they’re not limited to construction-related positions, says Katie Igoe, Head of Recruiting. Former military members are present in every one of Turner’s job families, she says, from superintendent, to project executive, to HR, to finance. “It crosses every spectrum, which differentiates us from other employers,” she says.

The types of projects Turner handles are buildings and infrastructures where people dwell, play and work: 25 percent are health-care related; 25 percent are commercial office buildings; 25 percent are educational facilities; and the remainder are airports, government buildings, sports stadiums and data centers. “We recognize the transferrable skills. If you have a passion to build, we have opportunities,” Igoe says.

One job area that may interest many veterans is safety. Employment opportunity examples are: Safety Superintendent, Safety Manager and Director of Corporate Safety.

“There are federal, state and local regulations - and Turner’s own safety programs - so we need veterans who are able to lead safety performance on our projects. These positions ensure that people are following external policies and procedures for safe delivery of our work,” McFadden says.

Read "More Hot Careers in the New Year"

Heidi Lynn Russell writes about employment and business issues.

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