Post Military Life: Career Choices
Posted by Navy Diver

How to Visualize Your Options After the Military.

If you have been in the structured environment of the military for a long time, returning to the civilian world could feel like moving into the Wild West.  I know for me, during my five years in the Navy, I missed many of the gradual changes that occurred in the “outside world”.

So going from a place where there was a definitive chain of command, scheduled watches, mandatory PT, reveille and taps, to a new place where your time is your own can be very daunting.

It took a few years of work, but I was able to come up with an easy framework for you to understand your options when you leave the military.  When all is said and done, when you hang up the uniform for the last time, you have four options.

(Scroll down to read more.)

Advertisement (Marine Corps Boot Camp Film Series)

For more information, visit

Your Four Options When You Leave the Military

In no specific order, your options are as follows.

  • First, you can engage in a life of your own leisure.
  • Second, you can continue your education.
  • Third, you can start a business.
  • Fourth, you can join the workforce.

These four options encapsulate the entirety of your decision matrix when you leave the military.  I will speak to each of these options in turn.

  1. Engage in a Life of Your Own Leisure.

Suppose you retired after 20 or 30 years of military service.  You are receiving a full military pension,  some of your real estate or other investments over the years have yielded nice dividends and your overall financial well being is secured.  In a scenario like this, you may decide that you have no desire to continue working (in a civilian career) or pursue other income generating endeavors.

You choose the life of your own desires.  The possibilities are limitless.  There is an entire world of nice places to travel, especially if your military career involved being deployed to undesirable locations.  You may choose to become a professional wine connoisseur or engage in other lifestyle activities.  Or you may go to school just for fun.

The option to live this way is dependent on your own financial resources.  If you have saved enough wealth during your military career, what you do after you leave is entirely up to you.

  1. Continue Your Education.

If you enlisted in the military straight out of high school, you may decide to pursue your college degree, vocational certification or other educational opportunities.  If you already obtained a college degree, business school, law school, or some other professional program may be in the cards.

When you decide to pursue further education, remember that your most valuable resources will be invested: your money (to pay tuition) and your time.  If you spend three or four years in school, you will not be generating full time working income.  That means you should choose wisely when deciding what to study.  Do you enjoy the program?  Will the degree or certificate increase your future income?  Are there job opportunities available in your field of study?

Education should be viewed in the same capacity as any other investment.  If you invest in the wrong education, you could find yourself in serious student loan debt with no job prospects.  This after spending years in school with no chance to get that time back. So be sure to do your homework before making an investment.

  1. Start a Business.

This is the most challenging of your post military options.  Consider it the high risk, high reward path.  Most businesses fail.  If you embark on building your own business, you could be risking your financial well-being.  However, the benefits for the few that build a successful business are enormous.  This includes earning self-generated income and not reporting to a supervisor.

The team here at plan to bring you ongoing articles about business.  I cannot provide to you all the information we have learned over the years in this one article.  It will take numerous articles to discuss important aspects of business such as target audience, marketing, accounting, legal entities, and supply chain issues (to name a few).

  1. Join the Workforce.

Coming out of the military, taking on civilian employment may be quite the shock.  You will have a lot to offer civilian employers, particularly bringing the military work ethic to your new job.  But the culture of a private employer is completely different from what you experience in the military.  Dealing with slackers who put in the minimal effort to “just collect a paycheck” is more prevalent.  And be rest assured, they will do everything to bring you down to their level.

But if you want to earn continuing income without taking the enormous risk of starting your own business, joining the workforce as an employee is a viable option.  We plan to bring you career related articles here at that will discuss important job factors for you to consider.  This includes resume advice, cover letter strategies, interview preparation and more.

SSGT NICHOLS: Serve Your Country.

SSGT Nichols IS A registered trademark. All rights reserved. | Privacy policy | contact