Industry Research Guide – Defense

By Rick Jones  |  vice president of sales at RecruitMilitary and a former master gunnery sergeant in the United States Marine Corps  |

Published in the January/February 2013 issue of print Search & Employ®  |

RecruitMilitary encourages job seekers to use this guide to learn about the defense sector of the economy and the job opportunities available.

One excellent source of jobs information is a contractor group, the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA; Its National Defense Mega Directory ( lists products and services in 13 categories:
(1) Aviation
(2) Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR)
(3) Combat Gear
(4) Environment and Energy
(5) Homeland Security
(6) Logistics, Transportation, and Manufacturing
(7) Maritime Systems
(8) Modeling, Simulation, Testing, and Training
(9) Professional Services and Consulting
(10) Research and Development
(11) Space and Missile Defense
(12) Vehicles
(13) Weapons and Ammunition

The listings are quite detailed. For example, the Aviation category contains 13 listings:
(1) Air Defense
(2) Air Traffic Control
(3) Aircraft (fighters, bombers, transports, tankers, trainers)
(4) Airframes
(5) Armor
(6) Avionics
(7) Composites
(8) Engines/Turbines and Components
(9) Fuels, Lubricants, Oils, and Waxes
(10) Guidance Systems/Seekers
(11) Low Observables
(12) Robotics
(13) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Each listing is a link. Clicking on a listing pulls up a list of companies that make the product or perform the service, and the company lists contain links to their websites. Most of the sites have “careers” pages.

Another contractor group, the Aerospace Industries Association, has similar links. Go to, click on “Membership” and then “Our Members.” A third group with such links is TechAmerica. Go to  and search the TechAmerica Member Directory.

To learn about the issues, the major players, and the general buzz in the defense sector, I suggest that you read magazines and newspapers on the subject. Most such publications are available both in print an online.

NDIA publishes National Defense, a business and technology magazine. Links to articles, defense blogs, and a digital edition are at:

1105 Media, Inc., publishes Defense Systems (,  which has five content channels: Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Robotics, C4ISR, Defense Information Technology and Cloud Computing, Cyber Defense, and Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT).

AFCEA International, an “information technology, communications, and electronics association for professionals in international government, industry, and academia worldwide,” publishes SIGNAL magazine (

PennWell publishes Military & Aerospace

Gannett Government Media group publishes:
Armed Forces Journal  -
C4ISR Journal  -
Training and Simulation

KMI Media Group publishes several magazines, including the following. For links to online versions of current issues, visit:
Border and CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Enhanced) Defense
Geospatial Intelligence Forum
Ground Combat Technology
Military Information Technology
Military Logistics Forum
Special Operations Technology
Tactical ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) Technology.

How To Get a Job with a Defense Contractor

  1. Be a U.S. citizen. Almost all high-paying U.S. defense contracting jobs are held by U.S. citizens.
  2. Get a security clearance. No one is in more demand within the U.S. defense contracting community than someone with a security clearance. This is especially so since 9/11. The good news for you is that one of the easiest ways to get a security clearance is through military service.
  3. Network. It’s true all over the civilian job world – it’s who you know. Make sure you attend job fairs, sign up on websites where contractors discuss contracts, and talk to contractors on military bases. Tell them you are looking for a job in the defense contracting world. If you can, check in with them once in a while to see whether their companies are hiring.
  4. Tailor your resume. All the regular resume rules apply, but if a job appears to support military operations directly, make sure you list your military experience in detail. If the job you are targeting doesn’t directly support military operations, focus on your skills and knowledge.
  5. Be a problem solver. Emphasize your problem-solving skills because those will translate into nearly every job in the defense industry. Make sure you include at least one example in your resume or cover letter, and be prepared to cite several examples during a job interview.
  6. Serve in the U.S. military. Because you are reading this magazine, you likely can already check off this requirement. Most U.S. defense contracts are managed by former military officers, usually lieutenant colonels or equivalent.
  7. Know your stuff. You must establish technical credibility. While it is true that former battalion commanders typically are the program managers for defense contracts, it is also true that former sergeants are typically doing the more detailed work.
  8. Be willing to relocate. If you don’t care about your location, then you will have a much easier time finding a job working in the defense-contracting arena.

Top 10

The top 10 Government Contractors in Fiscal Year 2012 – October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012

1. Lockheed Martin Corporation – $32,396,897,204
2. The Boeing Company – $26,201,046,393
3. Raytheon Company – $13,762,915,423
4. General Dynamics Corporation – $13,182,160,043
5. United Technologies Corporation – $7,231,128,857
6. SAIC Inc. – $6,384,352,693
7. L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc. – $6,288,351,970
8. BAE Systems PLC – $5,245,447,410
9. McKesson Corporation – $4,577,571,980
10. Bechtel Group, Inc. – $4,083,512,030


About the Author

This article was written by Jay Myers