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How to Pick the Right Career as a Military Leaver

Transitioning out of the military is a big step. If you joined the army when you were 18-21, there’s a good chance that you’ll be looking for your first civilian career. What’s more, if you’ve served for a long length of time, the job market might have changed considerably.

This guide is designed specifically to help you pick the right career for you. We’ll look at a selection of good options, as well as the 4 most important questions you’ll need to ask to make your decision.

What Are Your Options?

In theory at least, your options are endless.

You can follow any career path that interests you.

In reality, though, you’ve got to factor in time to re-train, academic requirements and probably most importantly, funding.

Chances are you’ll be looking for a new career that can be funded by The Enhanced Learning Credits Administration Service (ELCAS) which covers £3000 to £6000 worth of costs over three separate yearly payments. Training providers vary per region, and can be researched here.

Some popular ELCAS funded options for military leavers include…

  • Close Protection Services - A.K.A bodyguard, you’ll be tasked with ensuring the safety of VIPs.
  • Construction - Working on a building site, putting up houses, offices etc
  • Electricians - Installing power systems, data networks, lighting, fire protection and security in buildings. Also maintaining electrical systems to ensure they're working safely and correctly.
  • Forestry - Creating, managing, using, conserving, and repairing forests.
  • Personal Training - Working 1:1 with clients to help them reach their health and fitness goals.

So you’re generally looking at more hands-on, skills-based trades that you can get stuck into.

With that said, there are other options available to you that aren’t linked to ELCAS but are still financially viable. For example…

Police Officer or Police Community Support Officer (PCSO)
If you’re accepted into the force, you’ll be paid a good salary during training. As a whole, the role involves maintaining law and order, but the variety of roles available within the force mean that day to day activities vary considerably.

Teaching
The ‘Troops to Teachers’ programme offer a £40,000 bursary to help you qualify to teach maths, biology, chemistry, physics, computing or modern foreign languages. It might not have been something you had even considered, but if you’re looking for your next challenge, try controlling a room full of 30 teenagers.

4 Key Questions to Help You Pick

If that all seems like way too many options, then you’ll be glad to know that there are four key questions that you can ask in order to help you make your choice.

1) Does the career share some of the skills I’ve developed in the military?

It makes sense to pick a second career that builds on the skills you developed during your military career. For example, if you specialised in engineering within the military, a career within engineering, electrics or construction would probably be a good fit.

On the other hand, let’s say you are someone that loves all the fitness training, maybe a career within health and fitness would be a great shout. We actually wrote a great blog recently about 6 skills that military leavers have that make them great personal trainers.

2) Is the career a Good Fit for Me? (Lifestyle, day to day work, salary etc)

Just because a career is good for someone else doesn’t mean that it’s good for you. When picking your next career you need to carefully consider if it’s going to be right for you.

  • What will a typical day of work look like?
  • What hours will you work?
  • What will your salary be?
  • What type of people are best-suited to the role?

As an example, let's say that you’re considering working in close protection. You’ve got a friend that does it and he says it’s great. It pays well and it matches your skills, so on paper it seems like a good idea. BUT when you look a bit closer you learn that you’ll often end up working late nights and weekends, which isn’t exactly a great fit if you want to spend more time with your friends or family.

Do your research properly and you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble down the road.

3) What Qualifications and Licenses Will I need to Start the Career?

In an ideal world, you would be able to do absolutely anything that you wanted. In reality, though, you’ve got to think about the qualifications and licenses you’ll need to get started.



You might love the idea of being a doctor, but can you realistically afford to spend the next 6 years earning little to no money in order to get qualified? Probably not.



  • When picking a career you need to research…
  • What qualifications you need
  • How long those qualifications will take
  • And how difficult those qualifications are to achieve

As a Fitness training course provider we’re obviously biased, but personal training is a fantastic option because of exactly these reasons. The course you’ll need (level 3 personal trainer) are ELCAS funded, only take a few months to complete and are achievable even if you’re not academically minded, provided you’re willing to put in the work.

4) Where Can the Career Take You?

You want to pick a career with plenty of options available to you. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean a clear-cut career ladder and pay scale (although that can be a great feature) More that you want a career in which there are enough related jobs for you to move into should you wish.

For example, as a construction worker you might progress into being a site manager, or perhaps move sideways into something like teaching workplace health and safety.

Or as a personal trainer you might progress into gym management, or even move sideways into sales and marketing.

At the end of the day there are plenty of good options available to you, and if you take the time to properly research and answer all 4 of the questions above, you’ll be well on your way to picking a great career for your future.