In some fields, having military service under your belt offers a real leg up — both career wise and financially.
As new data from PayScale recently found, veterans are at least twice as likely as civilians to hold certain high paying jobs in industries like national security, technology and transportation.
Here are the five veteran-heavy positions that pay the most after at least 10 years of experience in that field:
CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER
Median salary: $167,200
It’s not all that surprising that veterans are often hired to direct a company’s IT strategies and infrastructure. Along with infantry and logistics, communication technology is one of the most common areas for officer training, said Nick Swaggert, who directs the veterans program at staffing company Genesis10.
“Communication is probably the single biggest thing we do in the military, even more than shooting guns,” said Swaggert, who has completed two tours of duty and is currently an officer in the Marine Corps Reserve. “All these different organizations have to talk to each other across different services and foreign countries, so the number of communicators we have trained is really high.”
Combine that technical expertise with years of leadership experience, and the military is preparing thousands of soldiers for a possible future in this executive level job. It is an especially popular position among Army veterans, who are almost four times more likely to become a CIO than an average citizen, according to PayScale.
Median salary: $164,100
Capture managers oversee a company’s bids for new business opportunities, especially government contracts. And veterans are ten times more likely to hold this position than a civilian, according to PayScale.
“It’s basically a fancy sales position,” said Lisa Rosser, founder and CEO of The Value of a Veteran, a consulting and training company that helps companies with veteran hiring.
While sales is not an occupation in the military, businesses need someone who knows the workings of the government and the military so they can present their products and services in a way that makes sense to those organizations, said Rosser.
Companies are especially interested in hiring people who have been in the military for more than 20 years — that’s a “sweet spot” because they’ve risen far enough in the ranks that they’ve developed the right contacts and understand what makes their products most appealing to the organization, she said.
SENIOR PROGRAM MANAGER
Median salary: $137,900
Veterans are almost seven times more likely than a civilian to become a senior program manager, which is an upper-level manager who is in charge of specific projects within an organization.
Military veterans are often tasked with leading groups of soldiers at relatively young ages and can transition those same skills into leading an office team.
“Our officer corps tends to be very management focused, but our senior enlisted members also manage projects, especially if they are in a staff position in the military where you’re managing exercises or a program of some kind,” said Rosser, who has served 10 years of active Army service and 12 years in the Army Reserve.
VICE PRESIDENT, TECHNOLOGY
Median salary: $134,200
“There is a reason why people use the expression ‘military-grade technology,'” said Swaggert. “The military does see a lot of hardware before other people see it.”
A vice president of technology not only needs to have a firm grasp of the technological challenges facing a company, he or she must also be able to effectively manage and motivate employees.
Military personnel — and especially officers — receive training throughout their military careers, which can add up to a set of technical and leadership skills that can be difficult to amass in civilian work, said Swaggert.
“That’s where you see the huge difference between service members and civilians,” said Swaggert. “How often does someone say they’re going to take a year off and go to school again? That’s what we do every few years as officers.”
CHIEF INFORMATION SECURITY OFFICER
Median salary: $133,700
With major data breaches becoming an all too common occurrence, the role of chief information security officer is more challenging today than it has ever been. These IT workers usually oversee a team of highly-skilled employees who are responsible for protecting a company’s information systems and evaluating its security strategies.
Armed with a new focus on “cyber warfare,” military veterans are often well qualified to apply their skills to similar positions in the private workforce.
Veterans are more than six times more likely to work in this position than a civilian, according to PayScale.
“This is the future of warfare, and the military realizes that,” said Swaggert.