A history professor gives a lecture.

Careers After the Military: How an Advanced Degree Can Help

Military History

Military service members preparing for a career after the military often undervalue their skills and knowledge gained during their service to the country.  A veteran’s occupational specialty code (MOS code) or Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) may not translate directly to a civilian career. Yet, when considering the duties and responsibilities of their military roles, veterans may discover relevant matches to civilian jobs in government agencies and the private sector.

Consider the civilian job outlook for veterans possessing knowledge and interest in military history. Possible qualifying positions may include teaching history in secondary and post-secondary schools, working as policy analysts for multinational organizations, and serving as academic program directors. These are only a few of the post-military career options available to veterans who have earned an advanced degree such as an online Master of Arts in Military History.

Making the Transition to a Civilian Career

Military personnel usually begin planning for careers after the military months or years before reentering the civilian world. The U.S. Army Career and Alumni Program provides the Soldier for Life—Transition Assistance Program that helpsArmy personnel in comparing military earnings, benefits, and career prospects against civilian jobs.

The website Military.com provides an extensive checklist for military members searching for a post-service job. The information helps veterans identify a particular type of work, craft an effective resume, prepare for job interviews and pre-employment testing, and collect required paperwork (discharge papers, letters of recommendation, school transcripts, and licenses and credentials).

Many former service members struggle to find employment immediately, as Military.com notes, especially those who lack a college degree. Many veterans settle for positions that don’t match their talents and strengths. The post-military job search is even more challenging as employers fail to appreciate the skills, experience, and potential of veterans.

Ironically, the talents and characteristics that military personnel develop during their service are among those most prized by employers. These include leadership skills, teamwork, and coolness under pressure. In addition, many veterans possess valuable technical and professional skills involving computer systems analysis, engineering, medical training, construction, and military history.

Understanding how to apply the expertise acquired while in the military to a career after the military is one of the points raised in Norwich University’s webinar Transitioning from Military to Civilian Life Through an Advanced History Degree.

Developing Essential Skills for a Career After the Military

Military service members cite a passion for military history as one of the reasons for enlisting. Some develop a deep interest in military history during their time in service. Converting this abiding interest into a fulfilling post-military career is one of the goals of Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in Military History program. Norwich University’s history as the first private military college in the U.S. is reflected in the program’s comprehensive curriculum and expert faculty.

Within its program curriculum, the university provides a unique perspective to students who are interested in gaining a deeper knowledge of military history and key military conflicts. Students develop analytical, critical thinking and written communication skills, which are the foundation of numerous post-military professions. These and other practical skills complement the competencies that former service members gain during their time in service.

Historiography and history methodology are fundamental skills developed through Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in Military History curriculum in courses such as these:

  • The program’s core course Introduction to History and Historiography covers topics including the methods used by historians to collect historical data and formulate hypotheses, the use of primary and secondary sources, and identifying bias and selectivity in historical interpretation.
  • The work of noted military strategists and theoreticians from the Thirty Years’ War to the present is examined in the course: Military Thought and Theory. Explored are such military concepts as deterrence and nuclear war, and modern revolutionary warfare.
  • The uniqueness of U.S. military institutions and military policy from the Colonial era to modern times is studied in U.S. Military History. Covered topics include the frontier wars, the rise of the U.S. as a great power in the 20th century, and civil-military relations from the Revolutionary War through the Gulf Wars.

Potential Career Paths for Veterans

An advanced degree in military history can prepare veterans for a range of employment opportunities that build on their service experience. Here are brief descriptions of the job duties, salaries, and employment outlook for several careers after the military.


The principal duty of historians is presenting and interpreting historical events to inform the public and contribute to the collective knowledge about the past. Historians may work for government agencies, private businesses, nonprofit organizations, historical societies, and beyond. Their work entails analysis of historical records, photographs and other illustrations, interviews, films, and personal correspondence and other writings by historical figures. They present their findings via reports, books, articles, exhibits, websites, and educational programs.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts that the number of jobs available to historians will increase by 6% between 2018 and 2028, which is slightly faster than the 5% average growth for all employment categories. As of May 2018, the average annual salary for historians was $61,140, although historians at federal agencies excluding the U.S. Postal Service earned an average annual salary of $97,840.

Policy Analyst               

The work of policy analysts is often overlooked but of great importance to the public. Most of the country’s current laws and policies had their genesis in think tanks and other organizations that employ policy analysts to research complicated matters that have a tremendous impact on society. Among the problems that policy analysts study and report are the effects of crime, ways to improve health care delivery, and the best responses to global political and economic threats.

The salary survey website PayScale estimates the median annual salary for policy analysts is $57,695 as of November 2019. However, the duties of policy analysts often mirror those of political scientists, who the BLS projects will experience 5% job growth between 2018 and 2028. Political scientists earned an average annual salary of $117,570 as of May 2018, according to BLS figures.

Assistant Professor               

This position is a subcategory to the postsecondary teacher role at a college or university. Becoming a tenured full professor usually requires a Ph.D., but a master’s degree may fulfill the basic requirement to pursue an assistant professor position. Assistant professors typically teach one or more courses within their specialty. They also may conduct research, apply for grants to fund their research, and supervise graduate teaching assistants. To earn tenure, an assistant professor, or adjunct professor, must publish original research.

According to November 2019 figures compiled by PayScale, the median salary for assistant professors is $67,223. The BLS estimates the average annual salary of a postsecondary history teacher at $74,590 as of May 2018, while postsecondary teachers of political science earned a median annual salary of $83,370. Employment of postsecondary teachers is expected to increase by 11% between 2018 and 2028.

Academic Program Director               

This position encompasses the many responsibilities of managing an academic department, including the formation of academic policies, tenure and faculty employment decisions, and budgeting. Academic program directors are sometimes referred to as academic deans, provosts, or chief academic officers. They supervise the research conducted by faculty, develop curricula, and confirm that students meet all requirements for graduation. They also may participate in student admissions, maintain academic records, and plan course schedules.

PayScale estimates the median annual salary of an education program director at $60,755, as of November 2019. However, according to the BLS, postsecondary education administrators earned a median annual salary of $94,340 as of May 2018. The BLS estimates the number of jobs for postsecondary education administrators will increase by 7% between 2018 and 2028

Setting the Stage for a Successful Post-Military Career

With the right preparation and forethought, veterans can build on the valuable skills and experience  gained during their service to launch a fulfilling career after the military. For those with a deep interest in military history, the online Master of Arts in Military History degree offered by Norwich University — itself a part of our country’s proud military pedigree — can help veterans claim a path to a stellar second act.

Recommended Reading

5 Career Options for a Marine Historian
History Teacher Job Outlook: Obtain Your Masters to Become a Tenured Teacher
Different Types of Historians and Their Careers


Benefits: After the Army, U.S. Army
Soldier for Life — Transition Assistance Program, U.S. Army
How to Find a Career After Military Service, Military.com
Historians, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Policy Analysts: Shaping the World Through Research and Problem-Solving, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Average Policy Analyst Salary, PayScale
Political Scientist, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Postsecondary Teachers, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Average Assistant Professor, Postsecondary/Higher Education Salary, PayScale
Postsecondary Education Administrators, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Average Education Program Director Salary, PayScale