Have you just come out of military service?

Perhaps you’re thinking of joining the military, but you’re not sure what to do afterward?

For some, it’s a life-long career, but for others, for any number of reasons, it’s a more temporary occupation.

Either way, this article seeks to explore a transferable military skills list – a set of abilities you will learn while serving in the armed forces, that you can apply to civilian roles following discharge.

Read on to find out what to include on your resume after leaving service, so employers will choose You.

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Military Transferable Skills – Too Long, Didn’t Read

It’s a fast-paced world, and some folks don’t have time to read a full article. With that in mind, here’s a summary of some of the skills you can learn during your time in the military:

  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Organization
  • Adaptability
  • A strong work ethic
  • Integrity
  • Problem-solving
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Compliance
  • Planning
  • Specific hard skills

I think that’s more than enough to go on for now – but this is certainly a non-exhaustive list, and the sky’s the limit for what you are capable of with the right kind of application.

Read on as we explore each point in more detail.

What are Military Transferable Skills?

The term “transferable skills” in this context, simply refers to the skills and abilities you can learn during military service that are in high demand in the civilian workplace.

As such, just because you’ve trained hard to do one thing (front line infantry – for example), doesn’t mean you won’t learn anything that’s valuable when looking for other work.

soldier with chest rig

In fact – it’s quite the opposite.

Transferable military skills are highly sought after in the workplace, and in addition to serving your country, they might well give you an edge when coming up against other candidates.

Be a sponge, as opposed to a stone. Learn as many new things as you can, soak up that knowledge, and everything you take on board will make transitioning to civilian life that little bit easier.

But the most important question is – can you still wear an American flag patch as a civilian? Of course, you can, but you can follow that link for an entertaining article and more information.

Hard and Soft Skills

It’s important to note the distinction between hard and soft skills when creating any resume, and particularly when exploring a military skills list.

Hard skills are teachable abilities that are easy to measure and specific – such as data analysis, technical writing, and engineering.

Soft skills are more difficult to define and include abilities that will make you a good employee/citizen/member of society. Integrity, communication, and work ethic are some examples.

Soft skills are also much harder to teach – if they can be taught at all. Some people just have them, others do not. The beauty of the military is you can learn them all during service if you’re open to it.

For the most part, this article explores military soft skills. Don’t be put off by the name – these qualities are badass.

What Skills do You Learn in the Military?

The following list explores just some of the soft skills, attributes, and abilities you can learn during your time in service, and then use at your discretion when applying for new jobs.


Some jobs require you to work alone, others as part of a team, and many require both.

Either way, there’s a good chance the job you’re going for needs a team player – and if the military teaches you nothing else, it’s teamwork.

During service, you’ll come into contact with all kinds of people, each with a different background, outlook, and personality. This encourages personnel to get on well with everyone – and that is resume gold.


Vital in the workplace, vital in the military. If your team isn’t communicating, then things will go south, pretty fast.

Thankfully, effective communication is one of the main skills you’ll learn during service, and you’ll be able to liaise with colleagues, co-workers, and staff – all the way up the chain of command.

Just remember that it’s a two-way street. Listening (and being able to actually hear) is even more important than talking.

Employers want to know that you’re capable of both, and that is something you should have in spades.


Even if you never climbed the ranks in service, you should still have a good understanding of what it means to lead, and what it means to be a leader.

But if you did manage to impress the top brass during your time in the military, then just about every occupation out there could use someone of that caliber.

If you’ve got it in your locker to motivate a team, keep morale high, and get the job done – then employers want to know, and they’ll be knocking down your door as a result.


There’s no doubt you need to stay organized during military service, as you’re going to be in a world of hurt if your life’s a mess.

Ensuring you keep your gear, materials, equipment, orders/instructions, and other items well-coordinated and cataloged is essential for success in the field.

The ability to put together a shooting range first aid kit, for example, shows excellent organizational skills. Follow that link for more information on trauma IFAKs.

And it’s just as valuable in the workplace – particularly when it comes to prioritizing tasks, managing workflow, and meeting deadlines.

The ability to stay organized is another highly-prized addition to your veteran skills that is going to help your CV rise to the top.


Life isn’t always a walk in the park, and neither is the military. Sometimes, things are just FUBAR.

soldier using night vision

But having the skills to adapt to any situation is as invaluable in the civilian workplace as it is when serving your country.

Rolling with the punches, being creative, and thinking outside the box, are all highly sought-after abilities by potential employers. The skill to adapt, no matter what life throws your way, is essential in any job.

A Strong Work Ethic

Military service isn’t a free ride. You need to lace up your boots, roll up your sleeves and get stuck in.

And this discipline and mentality create a strong work ethic. You’re not a layabout, you have the energy to burn, and you want to show that off.

Employers fall over themselves to find motivated individuals with this kind of mentality – go-getters that actually enjoy hard work and putting in a solid shift.

These are words you don’t want to leave off your resume.


The adherence to a strict moral code is something that the military will no doubt have drummed into you, and by goodness, you stick to it.

Being an honest person with a high level of integrity is a huge advantage when looking for work, and employers often seek out veterans specifically for this reason.

A trustworthy and dependable workforce is every company’s dream – so don’t let this essential quality go to waste, and add it to your CV.


During military service, you’re going to experience all kinds of problems. Sometimes, the world will just keep throwing them your way.

tactical gear and guns

But as much as it creates them, it will also give you the tools to fix them. Your military training will focus on how to solve problems – particularly in high-risk, life or death situations.

And while that extreme might not be necessary in the office, factory, or retail environment, the ability for an employee to handle any situation or task a job can create is a great asset to employers.

Your ability to think is invaluable, and if you can figure things out logically, efficiently, and in a timely fashion, then your CV is going to shine.

Plus, you know how to operate the right tools in different when different scenarios play out. Just like knowing how to use a GPS device when you are out deep into the wild.


As much as service in the military is about working within a team, you will also learn how to do things for yourself.

Taking responsibility for your actions, standing on your own two feet, making a heat-of-the-moment call without someone leading you by the hand.

All of these attributes will stand you in good stead in the “real” world.

Employers cry out for self-starters; motivated individuals that don’t need someone looking over their shoulder all the time. And if you’ve just come out of the military, then there’s a good chance you fit the bill.


Sometimes, employers just need “yes” men and women. People who aren’t afraid to get stuck in, do what they’re told, and get things done.

airsoft rules complying team

The ability for an employee to take an order can be invaluable to a boss under stress. No backtalk, no bullshit. Just follow the procedure to the letter.

Likewise, to follow rules and regulations – people’s lives depend upon it, and safety is paramount. Just like these gun safety tips and shooting range etiquette.

It might not be pretty, but someone’s gotta do it – and military personnel are in high demand in roles where specific instructions need to be accurately adhered to.


Military operational planning is legendary – even to someone who has never served. Figuring things out, dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s, covering all the bases, precision so sharp it cuts itself.

Anyone who can plan and execute anything in as much detail as you’re taught during service, well, that’s a valuable commodity, right there.

Make sure you highlight your ability to plan projects when writing your post-military CV, as it’s certain to grab the attention of potential employers.

Various Hard Skills

Finally, don’t forget about any hard skills you will have been trained in during your time in the service. They can be invaluable when following a new career after you have left the military.

You might have trained to become a mechanic, in which case the world is your oyster for working with vehicles.

The military needs a lot of computer-savvy boffins when it comes to modern warfare, and your knowledge of technology can be of huge demand – not to mention future-proof abilities going forward.

Perhaps you trained as a medic during your service, skills that will be highly sought after in the medical profession once you’ve been discharged.

Either way, you can use anything you’ve specialized to your advantage, in order to further your career and life after service.

military man working with computer

Some Final Thoughts

When leaving the military, it’s common to be nervous about re-entering civilian life and work.

For example, many soldiers are apprehensive because they feel that learning how to use firearms isn’t a specific skill that can be transferred to anything in the public sector.

But they simply need to look deeper than that.

Military personnel will have seen and experienced things that ordinary members of the public will not – and that can be a huge advantage, and a giant foot-in-the-door when looking for work post service.

It’s possible that military service members can apply themselves to just about anything, and the negative stigma that they’re only good at “war” needs to be eradicated.

The onus is also on our employers to see how useful background in military training can be when it comes to looking for new blood in the workplace.

Play to your strengths, hone your skills, find what you’re interested in, and it won’t be long before opportunity comes knocking.


As much as this article has been about transferable military skills, it’s also a big advert for joining up in the first place!

And don’t be discouraged or nervous when returning to civilian life – you have valuable attributes that are in high demand.

Let me know your experiences if you’ve made the transition, if there’s anything important I’ve missed off, or if you have any general advice for anyone considering their post-military career.

Best of luck out there, stay safe, and go get ‘em!