There are usually two main types of people who enter the military world: Those who want to make a career out of it until they retire, and those who want to go long enough to have their education paid for and explore a little more of the world. For whatever reason, if you’ve decided you’re done with your time in the military, transitioning out of a military career into the world of civilians can be a challenge, particularly if you’ve decided to pursue education as your new job.
Becoming a teacher or a researcher after years in the military field isn’t an easy thing to do, but there are a lot of skills you can take with you from your time wherever you were that can be beneficial in the classroom or lab environment. These tips can help you with your transition, making it as seamless as possible.
The Challenges of Moving From Military to the Academic Field
There are lots of resources available to those who are actively engaged in the military component but decide they want to leave when their contract is up. You can utilize these resources to choose how you want to integrate back into civilian society. Many people who do this find that the education sector in general, and teaching in particular, is the best way for them to transition.
Schools see the benefit of hiring former military personnel in instructional positions because they often have inherent leadership and authority skills. Their classrooms run smoothly because teaching intrinsic discipline is a natural part of what they have been trained to do. There are still challenges, though. You’ll need to have a Bachelor’s degree or higher in the field you’re looking to teach in or obtain a teaching certificate that qualifies you to teach the academic subjects you’ll be in charge of.
In general, you can qualify for a technical teaching position or a vocational field that requires one year of college and six years of vocational or technical experience to begin the process of being certified to teach your course. While you’re still a member of the military or once you leave, you can use the Alternative Certification Program through the University Teacher Preparation Program in order to obtain the qualifications necessary to teach at the institutional level.
Skills That Will Help You Transition
You already have skills that are transferable because you picked them up naturally while you were in your military career. Use those skills on your resume, highlighting things like:
- Training others in skills you’ve mastered already
- Being responsible for preparing and delivering groups or products during a project
- Designing and affecting changes in your organization that ultimately saved time/money/resources
- Using military principles to apply organizational skills to your part of a project
- Following orders from superiors and relaying those orders to those you were in charge of
All of these skills are going to be solid soft skills that will make you more interesting to any potential employers, particularly in the education sector in fields like instruction and research.
Tips to Remember During Your Transition
Leaving your military role and trying to fit in with your new home in the world of academics is going to have some challenges. These tips will help you as you transition:
- Try to leave your military-speak behind you while you’re in your new career. Any jargon that was specific to your military career should be translated into layman’s terms.
- Switch to civilian time when possible. You can keep your phone or watch on whatever you’re comfortable with, but if you schedule an appointment with someone, don’t use military time.
- Use casual names to address your colleagues instead of “Sir” and “Ma’am.”
- Be willing to request and accept help from groups that specialize in transitioning those from military careers into the civilian world. There’s a reason these organizations exist: it can be a tough transition, and when you work with people who understand the challenges you’ll face and can help you avoid or overcome them, the job is much easier.
Above all, learn how to use the skills you learned in the military field as positive traits in your new career. Being accountable, having natural leadership abilities, and working well under pressure are all important skills that will help you in any career you are looking into in the future.