Career Guide for Military Veterans

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Updated October 4, 2022

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Cybersecurity experts are in demand. Use this guide to find cybersecurity careers for veterans, and learn how to transition into the field after military service.

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Cybercrime cost the U.S. more than $6.9 billion in 2021, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and will likely increase in the coming years.

Private sectors and government agencies increasingly need cybersecurity professionals to help prevent and respond to security breaches. This makes now an excellent time for veterans to pursue in-demand cybersecurity careers.

Veterans' prior military experience can serve as a good foundation for civilian careers in cybersecurity. By building on military skills and completing additional training and education, vets can apply for jobs like information security analyst, security manager, and cybersecurity consultant.

Use our guide to learn more about cybersecurity careers for veterans. We explain why veterans may be well suited for this field and discuss the training needed to make the transition. We also cover salaries and advancement potential for several cybersecurity careers.

What Is Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity professionals protect computer networks, devices, and systems from unauthorized access, threats, and attacks. Potential cybersecurity jobs include incident responder, cybercrime analyst, and security engineer.

Many careers in cybersecurity can benefit from the skills, knowledge, and expertise that service members typically gain in the military. Veterans' unique experiences and skills in leadership and teamwork can help them stand out from their civilian counterparts when applying for cybersecurity jobs.

Cybersecurity professionals protect and defend valuable data and sensitive information. Vets likely already understand the need for security procedures, how to respond to threats, and remain calm under pressure.

In some cases, veterans may find it easier than civilians to apply for federal government cybersecurity jobs requiring security clearance.

Why Careers in Cybersecurity Suit Military Veterans

Some service members receive cybersecurity training while in the military. For example, cybersecurity specialists and cybersecurity officers protect military and Department of Defense computer networks from cyberattacks.

Cybersecurity careers may appeal to veterans, whether or not they worked in a tech-related service position. Those who did not receive cybersecurity training in the military still develop various skills applicable to the field.

Military service and cybersecurity work both require participants to defend against threats while accomplishing the goals of a stated mission. The emphasis on identifying risks and mitigating danger is another commonality. Both situations usually involve communicating well with other people, thinking on your feet, and making quick decisions.

Below, we highlight some of the potential skills and types of military expertise that can translate well to careers in cybersecurity for veterans.

Applicable Soft Skills

  • Process information and make decisions quickly in stressful situations
  • Situational awareness
  • Discipline
  • Work ethic
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Adaptability
  • Commitment to service
  • Communication
  • Ethics/character

Applicable Hard Skills

  • Security operations
  • Risk assessment and management
  • Threat analysis
  • Information security/assurance
  • Internal auditing
  • Authentication
  • Cryptography
  • Network security

Cybersecurity Careers for Veterans

The cybersecurity field offers careers at various levels. Below, we describe some popular jobs in cybersecurity for veterans. This is not an exhaustive list of potential cybersecurity jobs for vets, but just a sample of some possibilities.

Computer Forensics Analysts

Computer forensics analysts analyze data to help solve cybercrimes. Duties include preparing evidence for trials, offering expert testimony, and writing reports. These professionals also secure computers, other devices, and locate data trails. Most computer forensics analysts hold a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity or a related field.

Average Annual Salary: $74,800 as of May 2022

Cybersecurity Consultants

Cybersecurity consultants help organizations implement and improve cybersecurity policies and procedures or respond after a breach. Some consultants work for one dedicated organization, while others consult for various companies.

Cybersecurity consultants usually start in an entry-level role in the field, like incident responder, and can move up after gaining a few years of professional experience. Many consultants hold a bachelor's degree and earn relevant professional certifications.

Average Annual Salary: $87,480 as of May 2022

Security Engineers

Security engineers build the systems that protect organizations from cyberattacks. They look for system vulnerabilities, solve technical problems, and investigate breaches. A typical day may include installing firewalls, writing reports, and meeting with other members of their IT team.

Employers typically prefer to hire security engineers with a bachelor's degree, but some may consider applicants who complete a bootcamp and can demonstrate relevant experience.

Average Annual Salary: $95,950 as of May 2022

Security Managers

Security managers supervise IT staff and oversee information security issues for their organization. Day-to-day tasks vary by employer, size of organization, and industry. Security managers need expertise in IT security architecture, operating systems, and intrusion detection protocols. Communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills are also crucial for this role.

Most security managers hold a bachelor's degree, but some companies require a master's degree for senior security managers.

Average Annual Salary: $119,280 as of May 2022

Incident Responders

Incident responders prevent, mitigate, and respond to security breaches. They test, analyze, and monitor systems to find vulnerabilities. Important skills include reverse engineering, penetration testing, and security auditing. After a cyberattack, incident responders are usually the first ones on the job. Incident responders need a bachelor's or master's degree in cybersecurity or a related field.

Average Annual Salary: $73,980 as of May 2022

Additional Careers for Veterans

Moving From Military Service to the Tech Field

Transitioning from active duty to a civilian job can be an adjustment. However, veterans make up 5.6% of the total workforce in the U.S. and are a valuable asset to society.

Many opportunities, initiatives, and projects support veterans who want to enter the cybersecurity field. This is true both for vets with cybersecurity experience in the military and those who served in other capacities.

Military service develops many transferable skills relevant to cybersecurity. Vets are already familiar with the focus and adaptability it takes to complete a mission. They also understand the importance of focus, teamwork, and strategy in reaching goals.

Below we discuss short-term and long-term training that can help veterans pursue cybersecurity careers.

Short-Term Cybersecurity Training for Veterans

Potential short-term strategies for veterans to learn cybersecurity include free online courses, bootcamps, and cybersecurity certifications.

  • Free Online Courses: You can start to learn the fundamentals of cybersecurity through free online coursework. For example, the Federal Virtual Training Environment offers online cybersecurity training at no cost to U.S. military veterans.
  • Cybersecurity Bootcamps: Cybersecurity bootcamps provide a short, intensive period of training designed to prepare participants for a new career in cybersecurity.
  • Professional Certifications: Earning a professional cybersecurity certification helps you stand out from other job applicants. Employers usually value certifications because they demonstrate that candidates hold specific knowledge and skills. Potential relevant certifications include CompTIA Security+ and (ISC)2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional.

Long-Term Education Opportunities for Veterans

Opportunities for careers in cybersecurity for vets can improve with higher education. Typically, the higher the degree level, the increase in job options and salary potential. Ultimately, the right education level depends on your career goals.

  • Associate Degree in Cybersecurity: Some entry-level cybersecurity positions accept applicants with a two-year associate degree. Many students transfer to a four-year program after completing their associate degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree in Cybersecurity: Most entry-level cybersecurity jobs prefer or require a bachelor's degree. Potential careers include information security analyst, security engineer, and cybersecurity consultant.
  • Master's Degree in Cybersecurity: Earning a master's degree helps you pursue advanced administrative or management cybersecurity positions like security managers.

Learn More About Training in Cybersecurity

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Bachelor's Degrees in Cybersecurity

Learn More
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Master's Degrees in Cybersecurity

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Cybersecurity Certificate Programs

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Cybersecurity Bootcamps

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1

Certifications for Cybersecurity Experts

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1

Security Clearances for Cybersecurity Experts

Learn More
1

Cybersecurity Scholarships for Military and Veterans

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1

Using the GI Bill® for Cybersecurity Training

Learn More

Resources for Veterans Seeking Cybersecurity Jobs

The resources below can help veterans transition into civilian jobs in cybersecurity.

FAQ About Careers in Cybersecurity for Vets

Which branches of the military have cybersecurity jobs?

Many branches of the military have jobs related to cybersecurity and information technology. Potential careers for enlisted personnel include cybersecurity specialists and cyber operations specialists. Cybersecurity careers for officers include cyberwarfare officers and cybersecurity officers.

How is cybersecurity used in the military?

The military uses cybersecurity to protect its networks from attacks. The military also plays a role in stopping cyberattacks against the U.S. in general. Military cybersecurity specialists complete basic training but also learn advanced technical skills and gain expertise in communication systems, database design, and networking.

Is cybersecurity a good field for veterans who don't have previous experience?

While previous cybersecurity experience may be helpful, it's not required for all jobs, especially entry-level positions in the field. Vets can learn cybersecurity fundamentals through education programs and on-the-job training. They can also use and build on transferable skills developed while serving in the military.

How does a military veteran start a career in cybersecurity?

There are many potential routes to careers in cybersecurity for vets. A military veteran can start by earning an associate or bachelor's degree in cybersecurity or a related field. Vets can get experience through an internship or on-the-job training. Completing a professional certification or completing a bootcamp are other options to launch a cybersecurity career.


GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/.

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