Changing Careers: Military to Civilian

Changing careers is never an easy thing to do. Changing from the military way of life to the civilian sector is even more difficult. I know, I’ve done it! My wife is in the process of doing it now, and it can be a frustrating and difficult transition. One of the most difficult things to complete is your post-military resume. How do you put several years of military training onto paper in a way that civilians can understand? (And with no military jargon or acronyms!)

How do you write about the skills you’ve learned and had ingrained into you through years of training, hard work, dedication, and discipline? How does one translate the core values of Honor, Integrity, Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Personal Courage, Selfless-Service, Excellence, and Commitment?

It’s a tough thing to do. Not all military skills directly translate to the civilian world. But I assure you, many skills do. Countless veterans have successfully made the transition back into the civilian world. I did it over a year ago, and so can you. It takes a lot of work, planning, and sometimes a little luck, but it can be done.

Over the next few days and weeks, I will write about going through this transition. I will cover the decision to separate from the military, preparing to get out of the military, writing your resume, going through the job search, interviewing, and many more helpful topics to help veterans find the job they deserve. In the process, I’ll be helping my wife find the job she is looking for. Putting everything on paper will help us in our job search, and we can leave a written record to help others in the military community.

It’s never easy, but anything worth having is worth working for. (But you already knew that didn’t you? 😉 )

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Date published: October 25, 2007. Last updated: December 15, 2010.

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Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of this site. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is currently serving in the IL Air National Guard. He also writes about money management, small business, and career topics at Cash Money Life. You can also see his profile on Google.


  1. W Baker says

    I know what you are talking about. I just got back from a Iraq deployment and am struggling to get back to a civilian sector. I left my job knowing it would be there when i got back. Maybe i just didn’t take the time off to re-adjust to civlian life, going back to work after only being home two weeks. You sometime feel so out of place, just not fitting in to your old life. I really hate being a civilian again.

    • says


      It can be tough to make the transition, especially after a deployment. It seems like you are still living half a world away and the recent experiences still weigh heavily on your mind. The transition becomes easier with time, especially if you can surround yourself with other veterans, even those who weren’t in the same conflict. They know what it’s like to serve.

      But you aren’t doing a disservice to your comrades in arms when you go on with your “normal life.” In fact, you are honoring the best way you can. We serve so that others can live. And there is honor in that.

      Thanks for your service, and thanks for sharing.

  2. Julius says

    I literally went and read every article you had on military to civilian transition. I thank you for sharing your experience and giving advice on several topics for you have experienced them personally. I am on that same boat where I need to make a decision, which is leaning towards getting out and finishing my Degree. I gave my blood, sweat and tears in USASOC for 8 years and like you said, “enough is enough.” I’m currently on my 6th deployment and is not helping me finish my degree due to my profession as an operator. I ETS in 10 months and working through a plan to “not struggle” during my college years. What other advice do you recommend for Military to College transition. Thanks