Successful Military to Civilian Transition

Successful military to civilian transition

If you are considering the military to civilian transition, you are not alone. Tens of thousands are faced with that decision every year. "Should I reenlist?" Or, if you have decided to leave the military, "Which career is best for me?"

And, in the civilian world, many more are making career changes. Many people are forced to change. In industries like textiles and manufacturing, the jobs, and careers have gone to other countries. Half of all workers are dissatisfied with their jobs and many of them are looking for a more satisfying career. Most people can expect to change their career several times in their lifetime.

Regardless of the decisions you make about the military and your career, it is essential that you make good ones. These decisions will change your life, and very likely, the lives of those you love. Consequently, you want to take the time and make the effort to:

  1. Anticipate Potential Emotional and Psychological Problems
    Plan ahead to minimize adjustment problems for you and your family.

  2. Know Yourself
    Understand why you are thinking of leaving the military.

    Identify the careers that fit your personality and abilities best.

  3. Know Your Options
    Think of as many alternatives as you can. Learn about each one.

  4. Make a Good Decision
    Learn and follow this decision-making method. Consider getting professional help.

  5. Prepare for Cultural Differences
    Learn the subtle and important differences in culture between military and civilian employers.

As you work on this, keep a "Career Change" folder. In it you will keep the ideas you jot down, items you clip or print out, and anything else relevant. Be sure to write your ideas down. It is important and helpful. Review your folder from time to time, and reflect on its contents. When you are finished, keep your folder for future use.


Parts of this module are adapted from an earlier article by Robert E. Rainey: Rainey, R. E. (1992). Military Career: Changing to a Civilian Career. In L. K. Jones (Ed.), Encyclopedia of career change and work issues (pp. 186 - 189). Phoenix: The Oryx Press.