Military Life Resources

New survey highlights best careers for veterans after service

Navy Federal Credit Union, in partnership with Hire Heroes USA®, surveyed over 1,000 veterans to identify the top careers and most important characteristics of their ideal job after military service.
Two uniformed service members look at papers with a woman

The in-person portion of the Transition Assistance Program Hybrid Hiring Fair took place Sept. 21 at Fort Johnson’s Education Center. U.S. Army photo/Angie Thorne

Nearly a third of veterans say their ideal job has changed over the last three to four years, rating flexible work environments, “people skills” and work-life balance as top values.

More than 200,000 military members transition out of service each year. From relocation to financial shifts, the degree of change can be wide ranging for many veterans. To help ease the shifts, Navy Federal Credit Union, in partnership with Hire Heroes USA®, surveyed over 1,000 veterans to identify the top careers and most important characteristics of their ideal job after military service.

The credit union originally published its Best Careers After Service list in 2019, followed by Best Careers for Military Spouses in 2021.

“Over the last few years, the career drivers for veterans have shifted as they place an increased emphasis on personal satisfaction and happiness at work,” said Clay Stackhouse, a retired Marine Corps colonel and regional outreach manager at Navy Federal Credit Union. “A purpose-driven role and work-life balance are valued nearly the same as good compensation when veterans are asked about what makes an ideal, meaningful job for them.”

To develop the new ranking, Sperling’s Best Places matched hundreds of job requirements for over a thousand occupations from the Bureau of Labor Statistics with Veteran preferences captured in the survey. This produced a list of professions that most closely aligned with the needs and goals of today’s veterans:

  1. Business and financial operations
  2. Community and social service
  3. Management
  4. Health care practitioners and technical
  5. Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media
  6. Architecture and engineering
  7. Computer and mathematical
  8. Office and administrative support
  9. Educational instruction and library occupations
  10. Legal

“It’s more than just finding a job. It’s about veterans building meaningful careers filled with purpose,” shares Ross Dickman, chief operating officer at Hire Heroes USA. “We understand that veterans seek roles where they can make a real impact, using their unique skills and aligning with their personal mission. Guiding them towards such fulfilling roles is at the heart of our mission.”

In addition to work-related topics, veterans were also asked about their preparedness for civilian life, including financial education and advice. Veterans feel their military experience has served them well and have positive sentiments about their careers.

Nearly half of veterans say they had a job within a month of transitioning to the civilian world; more than 80% within six months. The vast majority are in private sector jobs. For career advice, family, friends and fellow veterans were the most relied upon sources.

“You can’t overstate the significance of tailored employment support,” noted Dickman. “The data speaks for itself: veterans who have access to thorough, direct coaching support programs are more likely to secure careers that not only match their skills and passions but also offer fair compensation. That’s why we place such a strong emphasis on one-on-one coaching, backed by mentoring and support from seasoned industry experts.”

Additionally, most veterans feel they received sufficient information about personal finance when they transitioned, leaning on their family and financial institutions for advice. They acknowledge though that more information on investing, saving for retirement, credit score management, budgeting, and home buying would have been useful prior to leaving the military.

“A strong relationship with a bank or credit union you can trust is so important for your financial success when you switch gears to civilian life,” added Stackhouse. “For example, we help our members through all stages of their financial life, from developing a plan for meeting their goals, to budgeting to offering tips for avoiding common money pitfalls. Thus, we’re committed to providing servicemembers and their families with the tools for success in all their life’s missions, including those beyond their military career.”

Other key survey findings include:

  • 15% of veterans are either self-employed or work in the gig economy because of flexible hours, work-life balance and autonomy.
  • Among veterans who say their ideal job has changed within the past three to four years, the most common shifts were in their work environment (26%) and career fields (17%). Of those shifts, 10% prefer to work remotely and 9% want to change career fields.
  • Average savings upon transition is more than $9,000, but nearly one in five veterans say they had less than $250 saved upon exiting the military.
  • Veterans are most likely to point to financial topics, such as investing, retirement saving and budgeting, when asked about the one piece of advice that’s most valuable when transitioning to civilian life.
  • Awareness and usage of various veteran job search assistance programs is limited.

Navy Federal Credit Union has presented its “Best Of” lists since 2018. The credit union serves 2 million veteran members and 25% of all new hires in the past year were veterans and military spouses. For more resources on the transition to civilian life, visit

Navy Federal Credit Union: Established in 1933 with only seven members, Navy Federal now has the distinct honor of serving 13 million members globally and is the world’s largest credit union. As a member-owned and not-for-profit organization, Navy Federal always puts the financial needs of its members first. Membership is open to all Department of Defense and Coast Guard Active Duty, veterans, civilian and contractor personnel, and their families. Dedicated to its mission of service, Navy Federal employs a workforce of 24,000 and has a global network of more than 350 branches. For more information about Navy Federal Credit Union, visit Federally insured by NCUA. Equal Opportunity Employer.

Survey Methodology: The 2023 Best Careers After Service report surveyed over 1,000 veterans from around the country about the most important characteristics of their ideal job. In addition to covering work-related topics, the survey also asked about preparedness for the transition to civilian life, including financial education and advice. Eligible respondents were U.S. military veterans who were employed full-time or part-time, self-employed, working as independent contractors, or actively seeking work at the time of participation.The veterans’ preferred jobs were matched with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) which listed the detailed requirements for hundreds of occupations.  For example, some jobs may require a high level of physical activity in outdoor settings and other jobs require using a computer regularly and are likely to allow teleworking. Using the features and requirements of the jobs most sought by veterans, the statisticians at Sperling’s Best Places matched them with the occupation requirements from BLS. The result is the list of jobs which most closely fit the needs and goals communicated in our survey of today’s eterans.