Earning a Degree in the Military: What You Need to Know First

Introduction

With the influx of online education, active-duty soldiers can now earn their bachelor’s and graduate degrees without interrupting their service. Obtaining a degree is not only for advancing your career in the armed forces, it can also help you prepare for civilian life. One of the biggest struggles military personnel will face is deciding what type of programme they should study.

Is it better to pick a major that aligns with your current specialisation, or should you think ahead and start envisioning your life after the military? Depending on your experience, there are different options to consider that can help you find employment after discharge. By considering your current work experience and interests, you can choose a degree option that helps you find gainful employment and develop a rewarding professional life.

Explore Potential Career Paths Before Picking a Major

Because the programme you choose will have a large impact on your next steps as a military veteran, you should think about where you see yourself after your service ends. Do you want to work in something similar to your job in the military, or are you interested in exploring a different industry? You should break down your ideas into a list of three potential options:

  • Careers that tie in directly to your military training and experience;
  • Careers that are supported by your experience but require new education; and/or
  • Careers unrelated to your current work experience that you have a strong interest in.

Consider browsing job listings and thinking about what you enjoy doing at work. You can learn a lot about your professional ambitions just by asking yourself what you like and dislike most about your current job.

Research Financing Options

Active duty and military veterans can both qualify for scholarships and other tuition aid through either the armed forces or their education provider. But there will still be a large sum of money you have to pay in order to complete your studies and earn a degree. Luckily, there are flexible military student loan options that you can compare and use to plan out your future. Borrowing from a private lender will give you the greatest freedom and choice when it comes to both how much aid you receive and how long it takes for you to pay it back.

Choose a Field That You Are Interested In

One of the common challenges military personnel face after being discharged is not having the right education or skills to get hired anywhere else. They feel lost and aimless in civilian life, worried that they have fallen behind their peers and will not ever be able to achieve their level of professional success. Do not let this mindset stop you, as you can start researching at any time and begin working toward a career that you love and excel at. Some of the most common fields veterans work in include:

  • Criminal justice and law enforcement;
  • Nursing and medicine;
  • Engineering;
  • Education; and
  • Computer science and technology.

Remember that it is best to find a job that merges your past skills and education with your growing knowledge and interests. Look for a career that makes you think, “I want to do that, too” instead of “Can I do that?”. When you feel passionately curious about what you are pursuing, you are more likely to stay motivated and work harder toward achieving your goals.

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