Help for Recruiters – A Guide to Military Skill Sets

A Guide to Military Skill Sets  |

By John Lundberg  | director of events at RecruitMilitary and a former gunnery sergeant in the United States Marine Corps |

Published in the July/August 2012 issue of print Search & Employ®

Veterans offer civilian employers a wide variety of skill sets that they acquired while in the service. In many cases, the skills are immediately applicable in the workplace. In other cases, the employers need to provide job-specific training — but the veterans’ skill levels are already so high that they absorb the training quickly

The overwhelming majority of active-duty personnel work in military employment categories that have easily recognized civilian counterparts, ranging from “Engineering, Science, and Technical” and “Machine Operator and Precision Work” to “Transportation and Material Handling” and “Executive, Administrative, and Managerial.”

Law-enforcement agencies are eager to hire veterans who had a “Combat Specialty” — often referred to as “Combat Arms.” And employers in a wide variety of industries value combat arms veterans for their leadership and decision-making skills.

An excellent source of information on military skill sets is “Job Opportunities in the Armed Forces,” a chapter in the 2012-2013 Occupational Outlook Handbook. The Handbook is published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a part of the United States Department of Commerce.

Below are two tables adapted from the Handbook. The figures following the names of the categories represent the numbers of personnel engaged in those occupations in August 2011. The source of the figures is the Department of Defense (DoD). The personnel include members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, which are parts of the DoD; and the Coast Guard, a part of the Department of Homeland Security.

Enlisted personnel serve in ranks through the highest sergeant levels in the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps; and in rates through the highest petty officer levels in the Navy and Coast Guard.

Commissioned officers serve in ranks from second lieutenant through the highest levels of general in the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps; and from ensign through the highest admiral ranks in the Navy and Coast Guard. Ranked between enlisted personnel and commissioned officers in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard are specialists known as warrant officers.

Enlisted Personnel

Administrative                                               55,941  4.6%
Combat Specialty                                         92,499 15.9%
Construction                                                  35,957  3.0%
Electronic and Electrical Repair             137,953 11.4%
Engineering, Science, and Technical     160,141 13.2%
Health Care                                                   72,013  5.9%

Human Resource Development                                44,021                   3.6%

Machine Operator and Production           25,709                   2.1%

Media and Public Affairs                               21,414                   1.8%

Protective Service                                           86,448                   7.1%

Support Service                                                                25,961                   2.1%

Transportation and Material Handling     167,047 13.8%

Vehicle and Machinery Mechanic             166,168 13.7%

Non-Occupation or Unspecified Coded  20,753                   1.7%

Total Enlisted Personnel                                               1,211,575

Combat Specialty 29,329 12.6%
Engineering, Science, and Technical 51,308 22.1%
Executive, Administrative, and Managerial 28,795 12.4%
Health Care 26,756 11.5%
Human Resource Development 5,919 2.5%
Media and Public Affairs 1,095 0.5%
Protective Service 4,695 2.0%
Support Services 3,397 1.5%
Transportation 70,612 30.4%
Non-Occupation Coded Personnel 10,706 4.6%
Total Officers 232,612
Total Enlisted Personnel and Officers 1,459,072

About the Author

This article was written by Jay Myers