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Manufacturing Jobs For Veterans: How to Start a Career While Transitioning From the Military

The military to civilian transition

It’s a good time for military veterans making the military to civilian transition. There are many options for veterans looking to get a job after the military and establish themselves in a new career. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that the veteran unemployment rate in September 2022 was 2.7 percent. Down from 3.7 percent in September 2021. 

A strong job market continues to provide opportunities for workers, which takes some of the pressure off veterans who are currently making the military to civilian transition. If you’re a veteran approaching the end of your military career you may be overwhelmed by the options within the civilian workforce. 

Over 200,000 veterans transition out of the military every year back into the civilian world. Industries like shipbuilding, aviation are common destinations for workers with military experience. However, the manufacturing industry could be one of the best jobs for military veterans, as it provides the ideal environment for veterans to advance their careers. Many of the skills veterans possess are highly valued by manufacturing companies who need to hire as their industry is projected to expand over the next four to five years.

To better understand how veterans can find work in manufacturing we spoke with Aerotek Recruiter, Michael Ramsey. Ramsey is an U.S. Army veteran and member of Aerotek’s Veterans and First Responder Employee Resource Group (ERG). He provided a few tips on how veterans can make the transition to a manufacturing career more efficient. 

Why is manufacturing a good career for veterans?

“Often, candidates with military skills and experience have good initiative, dependability and adaptability. Those are three really good things that you might not get from other candidates. Those skills are required when you're in the military,” says Ramsey.

As a military veteran, you aren’t the typical job seeker within the civilian workforce. This can be to your benefit if you identify and promote the skills you’ve developed while serving. With some planning and research, you can recognize the valuable soft skills that you have to offer. Soft skills are the traits and interpersonal skills that help you perform a job. These are skills like communication and problem solving. Ramsey explains that veterans usually have three important soft skills to offer manufacturing companies.

Veterans in manufacturing jobs

Transitioning service members seeking manufacturing careers after the military should emphasize these qualities. Adaptability is one of the most sought-after soft skills and it’s projected to become more valuable in the future. Initiative and dependability speak to your leadership qualities which can be rare in the manufacturing setting. 

“In the military, you have to adapt and overcome multiple situations. You have to be there every day. You have to show up for the soldiers on your left and your right. So you're dependable and you have that initiative and drive to get promotions. These are skills that can be hard to teach but they get instilled in the military. So, I like to highlight those when promoting a veteran for manufacturing jobs,” says Ramsey.

What are some careers in manufacturing?

Manufacturing is a diverse industry. Some of the manufacturing careers available include the production of food and beverage, medical devices, electronics, automobiles and more. There are plenty of manufacturing jobs for veterans and opportunities to find the right role that will help them advance their careers. Ramsey notes that former military mechanics are commonly finding jobs in maintenance. Maintenance mechanics and technicians are in high demand. Furthermore, the adoption of robotics and automation is creating additional demand for skills that many military veterans possess.  

“Recently, I was helping a candidate with naval missile systems experience. He’s familiar with automated equipment and a lot of manufactures are using automated and semi-automated technology. His transferable skills were also related to hydraulic and pneumatic systems which is common in manufacturing. So, he may not have checked the box for the manufacturing experience, but he checked all the other boxes and he brings the soft skills like dependability, adaptability and initiative,” says Ramsey.

Manufacturing jobs for veterans

Ramsey says the following roles tend to attract veterans with mechanical experience:

Veterans without mechanical experience should also highlight their transferable skills. Manufacturing production and assembly jobs can be hectic. Ramsey notes that employers want to hire people who are dependable and accustomed to physically intensive work.

“Manufacturing is a fast-paced environment, especially when working with food manufacturing processor. These are workplaces where a military candidate can make an easy transition because they are used to doing hard work, in a fast-paced environment for long hours. Veterans tend to be less intimidated by these conditions than a candidate without military experience who is just starting out in manufacturing,” says Ramsey.

How to find a manufacturing career after military service

Transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce can be difficult. Thankfully, the military branches and their bases have resources to help veterans make the switch. Staffing firms and employment agencies can also be valuable tools for veterans transitioning from the military. 

Developing a relationship with a recruiter can help you find your first job after the military and provide continuous support throughout your career. Most veterans can start working with a staffing agency before they transition out.

“I’d advise veterans to start the talk with a recruiter three to four weeks before they get out. This gives us time to be able to coach them on where their skills translate and help to identify a position for them,” says Ramsey. 

Recruiters are well equipped to help veterans transition to a manufacturing job. They help you understand your skills and how they match job openings in your area.

“Recruiters can specifically help by identifying the right position for veterans. At Aerotek, we’re very specialized and niched. We really know our market and our clients. That makes finding work for veterans easier. We also help transitioning military members by helping them identify their skills and finding where they align to current job openings. We’re a free resource and we have the knowledge to help them get into a career path they may not have known about,” says Ramsey. 

Working with a recruiter can be especially helpful during a labor shortage or when you’re transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce. As the number of jobs continues to outpace the number of available workers, there are a lot of jobs for military veterans to consider. 

“Job hunting right now can be confusing. Just transitioning out into the civilian life is confusing, not to mention finding a new career path. A recruiter can help a military member filter out the opportunities that don’t match their goals, skills or interest,” says Ramsey.

Interested in manufacturing careers after the military?

Now is a great time for veterans to explore manufacturing jobs. The industry is expanding and employers highly value the skills and traits veterans can bring to their teams. For veterans who are currently getting a job after the military, Ramsey offers some advice:

“Seek out a recruiter. I wish I knew about staffing when I was transitioning from the military. It helps you dial in the options and get an idea of where to go. Transitioning out of the military can be a scramble and you don't really know what to do or where your skills align. A recruiter can help get you on the right track,” says Ramsey.

If you’re a military veteran seeking a career in the manufacturing industry — start by searching our job board today.