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Eight Highest-Paying Skills for Veterans

Eight Highest-Paying Skills for Veterans

By Alida Moore,

As military veterans transition to private-sector careers, they can draw upon the skills they learned while on active duty. But, when it comes to earning a civilian paycheck, which skills will pay off the most?

Aside from leadership and character development, service members often learn technical and tactical skills that could lead to jobs paying more than $70,000 annually. “A lot of what a person learns in the military is analytically focused, which is an area in demand,” says Katie Bardaro, lead analyst at online salary database “Demand for skills like contract negotiation, data modeling and coding is outpacing the supply of workers who [have] them, which drives pay up.”

If you’re a veteran with experience planning missions, or perhaps you’re part of the IT staff on base, read on to find out how eight skills you learned in the military could earn you $70,000 a year or more in a civilian job.

Systems Engineering
Median Annual Salary: $84,300

Logistics and strategy are synonymous with the military. A member of the military who knows how to coordinate a solution to a complex problem or implement a new system could be well-suited for a career in systems engineering. Overseeing engineering systems design and management requires this technical skill.

Find jobs requiring systems engineering skills.

Ruby on Rails
Median Annual Salary: $84,200

If your time in the military helped you develop programming and coding skills, you’re likely familiar with Ruby on Rails, the open-source full-stack Web application framework. Take your knowledge to the private sector as a software developer or software engineer.

Find jobs requiring Ruby-on-Rails skills.

Median Annual Salary: $82,000

Python is another lucrative skill common to certain military personnel. This programming language emphasizes code readability. Understanding Python can help you land jobs as a software developer or test engineer.

Find jobs requiring Python skills.

Data Modeling
Median Annual Salary: $78,700

A member of the military must be able to think tactically and strategically at all times. The ability to see how information will fit into a system can sometimes be called data modeling, and it’s a marketable skill for anyone with experience organizing and analyzing complex information.

Find jobs requiring data-modeling skills.

Six Sigma Black Belt
Median Annual Salary: $78,500

The Six Sigma process comes from the manufacturing industry and essentially means reducing errors in products to less than 1 percent. In the military, there’s little to no room for mistakes. Military personnel trained to identify weaknesses and react accordingly are an asset in the business world.

Find jobs requiring Six Sigma Black Belt skills.

Security Risk Management
Median Annual Salary: $76,400

“This is a skill that has become inherent to many veterans,” Bardaro says. During a tour of duty, you might find yourself in new situations where you must quickly assess your surroundings and potential risk. On a smaller scale, this skill translates well to the private sector, especially in the field of IT as a risk management officer.

Find jobs requiring security risk management skills.

Lean Manufacturing
Median Annual Salary: $70,400

Lean manufacturing is another skill in which efficiency comes into play. A worker with this ability knows how to produce quality results with less effort and waste, freeing time and resources for other projects. The Department of Defense especially values lean manufacturing to lower overhead costs, according to research group The Rand Corporation.

Find jobs requiring lean manufacturing skills.

Contract Negotiation
Median Annual Salary: $70,300

Many companies bid for military contracts. However, winning these contracts requires knowledge of the military’s unique culture and operational style. How can a company best craft a successful proposal? Veterans offer specialized knowledge and insights to help these companies negotiate and close the deal.

Find jobs requiring contract negotiation skills.

Source: All salary data provided by online salary database Salaries listed are median, annual salaries for full-time workers with five to eight years of experience and include all bonuses, commissions or profit sharing. Veterans are PayScale survey respondents who reported that their job five years ago was as an active service member in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force or Coast Guard.

Learn more about military careers.

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