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Defense Career Pathways to Consider When Joining the Military

Think about the long-term goals — this guide explains how to plan for lucrative defense careers

Joining the military is a big step. Odds are, service in uniform will be among the most rewarding periods in a person’s life. It’s intense. Being a soldier, Marine, airman, sailor or guardian (it still feels cheesy writing that. I’m sorry) will consume more of your energy and attention than you can imagine as a civilian.

But everyone leaves the military — everyone, whether after a short two-year hitch on active duty with an infantry unit, or after 30 years on and off mighty naval ships.

Keep an eye on the date when you finally hang up your uniform. Because on that day, assuming that one is still fit for employment and interested in working, you’ll be faced with a potentially-bewildering series of choices.

Some people leave the military knowing exactly what they’re going to do. Get an MBA, go into business. Work for the government. Politics. Writing Morning Brew style newsletters.

For everyone else — especially people focused on stable careers — here are some of the best ways to find a veteran-friendly place to start your new life after you’ve saluted the flag in the morning for the last time.

Software Support and Development

Four of the best jobs in the U.S. in 2023 deal with software. Software Developer (1), Information Security Analyst (5), IT Manager (8) and Web Developer (9) all benefit from a background in software engineering and coding.

Looking for a branch to set yourself up for a lucrative and rewarding career post-military? 25 series jobs in the military will put you in a good position to take advantage of great civilian jobs. They also have the advantage of usually spending their time at HQs — Company, Battalion, or Brigade — which are usually more comfortable, even during field operations.

Get you some of that good 5G cash!

If you’ve already left the military, or chose a non-technical MOS but still want to enter into a technical field afterwards, we recommend checking out the new Vet Tec program. The program, offered by the VA, allows veterans to attend accredited/approved technical programs for free and receive BAH! It’s a great way to develop strong technical skills and prepare you for entry-level programming jobs.

Health Care

From doctors to dentists, from nurses to therapists, health care is one of the largest and most rewarding (financially and spiritually) fields in the world. Every tribe and town values its caregivers, no matter the culture or context.

68 series military slots — medics and medical specialists — are ways to get advanced schooling in emergency and trauma care without much previous education. If you’re really unlucky and get deployed to combat, you could end up with healthcare experiences few others in the U.S. will see or experience during their lifetimes. It’s tough work, but valuable, and after you’re done there are a wealth of civilian-side careers open — even more if you’re willing to go to school for a while.

False motivation is better than no motivation, in health care and other fields.


Everybody going into the military loves their S1 administrative office! From payday to promotions (and downrange, packages, too), 42 series personnel have all the answers.

That can be a great ramp into banking, wealth management, investment, and a host of other post-service careers. If business and money is your thing, do what you can to get a slot in the S1 shop. You’ll learn a lot they won’t teach you in the classroom before you set foot on a college campus (unless you’re an officer branched S1, in which case, presumably, you’re gunning for an MBA).

“Bank Teller Needed.”

Management and Leadership

Management is one thing, leadership is another — though related, these are distinct concepts. Both make excellent paths for folks going into the military, regardless of the field or company. Why? Because the military is all about service on the one hand, and leadership on the other. No single career will better prepare a person to take responsibility for producing work in an organization than the military. And a 20 year old E-5 Army infantry sergeant knows as much about leading and inspiring people as your average business owner. More, if they’ve deployed to combat.

You could own your own business someday, like C. Montgomery Burns! Interesting aside, I knew a kid who wanted to do this when he was in high school and he resembled Mr. Burns. Even as a 15 year old.


If there’s one thing folks in the military know, it’s hospitality. After years of traveling and sleeping uncomfortably onboard a ship, in the field training, or literally in a field during offensive combat operations, few can speak to the needs of the humble traveler better than a military veteran. Whether it’s restaurants, hotels, or travel planning — hospitality is an old and honorable profession, to which veterans are very well suited.

Forbes runs a list of its top businesses to work at as veterans. They have a way of evaluating this that doesn’t just depend on the feedback of veterans, which, while important, isn’t the only factor one should consider. It’s a good place to start looking for places to work post-military. One can scan through the list of names. Apply to businesses in fields that are interesting; this is a long list of big businesses and no matter where you are in the U.S. or where you want to be, you’ll find some great options.


NVIDIA has become the go-to chip manufacturer not only the U.S. but also the world. How durable is its staying power — is it worth its $2 trillion valuation? The short answer is very much so, yes.

Huge news in the credit industry: Capital One is buying Discover. While that sounds like a good deal for shareholders, and probably is, it seems unlikely that the consumer will benefit.

The U.S. government is taking the final steps to see its big investment into the domestic chip manufacturing industry realized. That’s microchips, not nacho cheese flavored Doritos (though at $5.99 a bag, maybe it’s not a bad idea…)

Bad news for mines specializing in battery metals for EVs as people prefer hybrid cars — of course, one man’s catastrophe is another man’s profit. Let’s see how things look 1 year from now…


Aging and unsanitary barracks are a huge issue with the military, which relies on infrastructure that is in many cases dozens of years old. The fix? Well — it’s money. But the military isn’t getting money.

Australia hopes to double its surface fleet, in part to counter the rising threat from China. The problem? Money (they’re not spending enough).

Thoughtful essay on the subject of drones and drone warfare. The author believes they’re tactically useful, but their strategic utility has yet to be proven.


Really engrossing story about a mental health professional (!!) who got a half a million dollars into credit card debt. Sheds light on how dangerous these sports betting apps are.

San Francisco, city on the… grow? Driven by opportunity, many investors and businesses returning from Texas and Florida, attracted by the unbeatable talent and infrastructure (it’s gotta be something and law enforcement ain’t it).

Is America’s oil power at its peak? Some indicators say the country’s likely to fall off in coming years against OPEC. But that’s what they always say before some new tech makes more oil recovery feasible.

Investigators have uncovered the oil smuggling ring Russia has used to continue exporting in defiance of sanctions and criticism.


The feds had trouble getting the Texas National Guard off the border at first, until someone hatched a wise plan.