Veterans Earn More in Civilian Jobs

November 12, 2013 |

Transitioning out of the military brings a slew of uncertainties: where will you go, what will your next job be, will you make enough money? A recent survey by Accenture of 1,000 employed and unemployed veterans reveals that veterans who perform the same or similar jobs in the civilian world make more money than they did in the military. That wasn’t the case for everyone, of course, but the trends are signs that although some veterans struggle, military service can provide a noticeable boost in employability and general success.

The key takeaways from the survey are:

  • Fifty-three percent of employed veterans say their military background played a significant role in helping them land their job, with 33 percent saying it was the biggest single factor.
  • Employed veterans who apply their military skills in the same civilian career field as their military service earn more money – 74 percent earn $50,000 or more annually compared to 43 percent of those who work in a different field.
  • Among the unemployed respondents in the survey, 70 percent said they had served in Iraq or Afghanistan, compared to about 50 percent of the employed veterans and about a third (34 percent) said they have been looking for a job for more than a year.
  • In some cases, unemployment is a hardship that impacts the whole family; more than a quarter (26 percent) of the married jobless veterans surveyed said they have an unemployed spouse.

Among the unemployed veterans who participated in the survey, 36% said that the number one thing getting in their way was figuring out how their military service translated to civilian job skills. The second most common impediment was not knowing where to start searching for jobs. Of all the unemployed veterans, many of them actually landed interviews but none were offered jobs.

About the Survey

Accenture conducted a quantitative survey of 1,000 U.S. veterans, who separated from the military within the past 15 years, ages 18 and older. The survey interviewed 600 currently employed and 400 currently unemployed veterans to assess their opinions and attitudes toward their transition from the military to the civilian workforce. The survey included veterans from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and the National Guard, and included a mix of officers and enlisted personnel. The survey was fielded by phone and online by Penn Schoen Berland in Oct. 2013.

About Accenture
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 275,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$28.6 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2013. Its home page is

About Stephen Bajza


  1. Frank Bowers says:

    Having been in QM I have to wonder where they fit combat infantry men?
    I guess if you wish you can make a good story out of a pigs ear so long as you can get money for the article or paid to print.
    Frank Bowers, FIC; 100% DAV; Class of 1937; Austin, TX

  2. Talmach says:

    This squares with my experience. I now earn twice what I did in the military. However, it took two years of applying and finishing a certificate using the GI Bill to back up some of my military skills with a piece of paper before I landed my job. That was a hard time, financially, but the GI Bill stipend helped. I also finished out my service obligation in the National Guard – I recommend it if you don't have a job lined up. A few hundred dollars a month makes a difference, and it's a good networking opportunity. Because you will be meeting up every month with many people from your military specialty who also hold civilian jobs, you will likely find out about some local employment opportunities for people of your qualifications.

    You'll get there. Be persistent, use the GI Bill to get your credential(s), network, research, and just keep applying.

  3. Corbin Doades says:

    I was military police for 9 years. Now I work as a security guard. Make about the same. Been applying for police departments statewide and through get turned down alot because I dont have the experiance?!

    • SubVet says:

      Michigan has a MP to MSP program, check into that in your state or apply to Michigan State Police. I was at a Veterans Hunt a month ago and there were three cadets in the program.

  4. jobless_vet says:

    This fits. Been looking for a job over a year myself. Was in Desert Storm and Iraq.

    • Unemployable says:

      Yep I’ve pretty much give up. I served as a combat engineer “Sapper” for the last 10 1/2 years; served in Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times, can’t even get a job at the local discount stores stocking shelves. Every where I go its the same “they just feel that due to my extensive military experience, they believe employing me would be more of a liability than a benefit to the company” and they develop this opinion just off of my previous job title”Combat Engineer”.. I guess President Obama scared the workforce when he said “The greatest threat to the United States and our citizens is the Combat Veteran. Thanks Commander

      • Diane in TX says:

        If you drove heavy equipment, you might look into getting a CDL. Your GI Bill should help you get the training and testing. Check with your local VA Services office. Here in west Texas, there is an oil boom on, and I hear there are several other areas with similar booms. Many employers are looking for people who have a CDL, having a hazmat certification is a plus. Good Luck!

      • Unwanted Veteran says:

        You can thank Janet Napolitano for the comment that we should scrutinize our veterans and soldiers because they are a risk to national security. It's sad this lady gets away with making the lives of veterans more difficult. I have been looking for work for nearly a year now and because of what Janet Napolitano said I have been turned away from at least 50 jobs that require some background checks. She has ruined our lives while she's racking in a 6 digit income destroying California's UC system. These are the perks you get when you're a veteran hating politician.

      • SubVet says:

        Get that resoning documented then sue thier asses for discrimination, not only that ensure that is all factual and publicize the hell out of it. The loss in profit will wish they had hired you for $300,000/year

      • Ponz says:

        C'mon Unemployable, I never heard Obama say that. You probably listen to Hannity and Levin all the time.

  5. Persistent says:

    As far as being unemployable, I agree that you have to be persistent. Go to the unemployment office and ask specifically to speak with a veteran career counselor and he/she will give you pages of resources. You have to be persistent in your pursuit. I do not kid myself into thinking that I will get to do any intelligence analysis outside of contracting, D.C or Arizona. I do intend to use my transferable skills plus education to get me where I want to be. Two programs, Apprenticeship program and your local state’s back-to-work initiative are just as great as your G.I Bill alone.

  6. matthew arzu says:

    I was a Disbursing Clerk while in the military, for my last three years, I worked at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). Prior to retiring from the service, I started applying for jobs within the organization. Within two weeks of my retirement, I was called in for an interview with the Accounting Department. I was offered a position in Accounting since Disbursing Clerk is also accounting for military pay. I would recommend to my fellow veterans to apply for employment at DFAS all over the world, or even the Department of Labor, any Federal entity. There are laws out there that require these entities to hire certain number of veterans for their staff. There are programs namely “hire a hero” that makes it easier to hire veterans, especially wounded warriors to these entities. Did you all know that if you are 30% or more disabled that you don’t compete for certain Federal Jobs? This can be done through a VA program while applying for Government jobs through USAJOBS.COM. When you apply, select a program that you qualified under such as Veterans Readjustment Program, depending on your disability. Good luck to you VETS out there in your job hunt, you will find something real soon, just believe it.

  7. Rich says:

    Disabled Cold War Veteran here! Left active duty in 1989 and the NJ Army National Guard (Full Time GS-07) in 1996. Returned to school under the VA's Vocational Rehabilitation Program and earned both an Associate's and a Bachelors Degree in Business Management. I completed the Bachelor's in 2010 graduating Summa Cum Laude (4.0 GPA) and just found employment in June of 2013 working 21 hours a week and earning $12.00 an hour. The way I see it, things will remain this way until the economy improves so we all need to hang in there and try to remain patient. I thank God everyday that my wife makes decent money or the family would be royally screwed. Hang in there ladies and gentlemen – Things can only get better

    • "Hire a Vet"allHype says:

      I'm with you on that, two Bachelors degrees and half way through to a masters and noone will touch me. Even interviewed with some of these so called "Vet Friendly" companies.

      • Rich says:

        "Vet Friendly" and 10 point veteran's preference are total BS. The company doing the hiring already knows who they're placing in the vacant position and merely go through the motions so they appear concerned about the military and veterans. Personally, I'd rather they not waste my time when they know they're not hiring me. I'm aware that I'm very cynical, but my past experience demonstrates that it is what it is.

        • Ponz says:

          In the northern Virginia area you might be valuable if you have a valid clearance. Without one there goes more than half of the jobs right off the bat.

  8. rmalit says:

    Lesson Learn I want to share. The US and the world economy has changed and continue to evolve because of ever changing new technology. The desktop computer morphed into laptop computer which morphed into tablets, then emerged Smartphones and Wearables. The industrial business models, bricks and mortars has changed also. Now electronic commerce has surpassed traditional commerce. Brick and Mortar business can now be create via Mobile Apps..Most large employers, also small medium enterprises are adopting to these changes which has broken down the traditional job security we all know. This paradigm shift has happened in 2003 and it is evolving very fast. Most people and government agencies has not kept up with this. This explain why the lack of employment and low pay. While others suffer the consequences, others abound with unlimited opportunities. For myself, I suffered financial reversal as consequences of the mortgage crisis and economic downturn that affected my real estate and stocks investments. However, like a pilot or captain of a giant 747, we must make necessary adjustment to land on a dime at our destination. Our circumstances, whatever it may be must not distract us, instead it must inspire us to make corrective actions to become the best we can be as veterans.

  9. Sofia Grayson says:

    Some veterans get the benefit from military service which can provide a noticeable boost in employability and general success because they are physical, mentally and emotionally are much stronger than civilian

    Employed veterans who apply their military skills in the same civilian career field as their military service earn more money. Companies are preferring those one who went to the war prone area because they know that veteran are capable for taking any action in a any situation.

  10. FWWP says:

    WWP is great, unless you are a pre911 Vet. Unless you are post 911 they have no place for you, hence why I no longer support nor donate to the program. Just think if the VFW or American Legion said, "No post 911 Vets allowed"