Transitioning from the Military to a Civilian Career


Making a career change can be difficult, especially for service members who are transitioning from the military to a civilian career. Service members can enhance their transition by obtaining the academic knowledge and professional experience required to build a successful civilian resume. The following tips can help make military to civilian transitions faster and easier:

Build Your Credentials

Use in-service educational programs, such as Tuition Assistance, to help fund your education. Each branch of the military has its own educational websites, funding limits, and application processes. Contact your Education Services Officer to determine your eligibility. Visit websites such as the Credential Opportunities Online (COOL) to locate job-specific certifications and licenses for a smoother transition into a civilian career.

Gain Hands-On Experience in the Civilian Workplace

Gain experience through volunteerism and internships. Career Services,’ Volunteer Opportunities page offers a list of websites to help students locate potential volunteer opportunities that can help develop skills and experience.  If your Walden program does not have an internship or practicum component, you may want to consider completing an optional internship course.  Visit Career Services’ Optional Internships page to learn about optional internship requirements.

Create Your Civilian Resume

The wording in your civilian resume will be a little different than your military resume. Comb through your resume to find military-specific vocabulary and acronyms that may be unfamiliar to a civilian hiring manager. Replace any military jargon with civilian terms and write out any acronyms. Be sure to list skills that are transferrable and relevant to the potential employer such as communication, organization, and leadership skills. Visit Career Services’ OptimalResume system to view military to civilian resume templates, along with 400+ additional sample documents.

Final Tips

Being academically and professionally ready will help you build a strong resume and have a smoother transition into a civilian career. Start preparing for your career transition early. Visit your Education Service Officer to determine which educational programs meet your needs and your timeline, to avoid being restricted by a service duty obligation. Volunteer or intern to gain relevant experience and learn industry-specific skills. Finally, revise your resume to make it civilian-friendly and highlight your transferrable skills.

Additional Resources:

ONET Online – Military Crosswalk Search

Career Services’ Veterans page


Volunteer Opportunities

Optional Internships


Marine COOL


Air Force COOL

Kalida Cooper- little

Written by Graduate Assistant and EdD Student, Kalida Cooper