No matter how the economy is performing, military jobs offer the most employment security as it is rare that governments slash defence budgets and curtail payrolls. Even without a war going on, countries are ready to fill their military branches with personnel to perform a broad range of duties and tasks.
But with hundreds of different types of positions available, what would be some of the best military jobs to pursue? It all depends on your expertise, interests and goals.
Whatever your situation may be, careers in the military can provide you with purpose and a regular salary. Unsure what to look for during your job search?
We have compiled a guide to the 20 most popular careers in the military.
1. Cybersecurity specialist
Average annual salary: $58,430 (£42,220)
If you have been scanning the headlines as of late, you will learn about the constant cybersecurity threats against military networks from adversary entities. And this is where cybersecurity specialists enter the picture – they shield these military networks from enemy forces by monitoring, analysing and finding unapproved activity in the cyberspace realm.
Although cybersecurity specialists focus on specific threats, they will be assigned to particular types of information systems and coordinate with unique networks and system administrators. Still, the endgame is the same – to ensure the security of the military’s information networks.
Average annual salary: $52,725 (£38,100)
Do divers spend their entire workday underwater? Not quite, so don’t worry about holding your breath for too long.
Divers’ specialities are active and marine-related, like performing reconnaissance, carrying out demolitions, repairing ships or searching for missing persons in the water. But most of their duties are carried out on land or aboard ships. Divers maintain a broad range of other roles, such as inspecting and surveying ships, offering civil authorities assistance, and identifying surface explosive devices.
3. Accountant and auditor
Average annual salary: $116,146 (£83,925)
Not all army jobs consist of flying on choppers and wielding M107 Semi-Automatic Long Range Sniper Rifles. Many careers in the army, navy, or the air force are behind a desk, completing the more mundane but crucial aspect of protecting the nation at home and abroad.
Accountants and auditors work in offices either on land or aboard ships. They will conduct military affairs relating to budgets, accounting, and disbursement of government funds. Essentially, all the bookkeepers are responsible for financial management processes, such as verification and submission of financial reports and auditing of payment transactions.
4. Physician assistant
Average annual salary: $115,424 (£83,400)
When a physician is unavailable to treat a patient, physician assistants are there to care, diagnose and treat diseases. Since they are certified health professionals, physician assistants possess the qualifications to prescribe medications.
Although you will not be required to complete basic military training, physician assistants go through other forms of complex training – a four-year college degree is mandatory.
In addition to being good at your job, the military requires individuals to have one basic characteristic: the ability to remain calm in stressful situations.
5. Mental health caseworker
Average annual salary: $53,930 (£38,970)
Military jobs and army careers can have long-lasting effects on the mental health of those who serve. Whether they fight in combat or are stationed on a military base, these brave men and women see a lot and go through physical, emotional and mental turmoil. Even if somebody has served their entire life in an army job, the mind can find it challenging to process actions, injuries and deaths.
Mental health caseworkers are crucial members of the military family worldwide and are high on the priority list for army recruitment campaigns. They are tasked with assessing, diagnosing and treating psychological conditions to support individuals with acute post-traumatic stress disorders.
6. Infantry soldier
Average annual salary: $44,704 (£32,300)
Perhaps the hardest and most dangerous, but also the most rewarding job in the military is the infantry. They are the ground troops who must be prepared to travel anywhere globally, work in all climates and train in all weather conditions. However, this isn’t always the case as members of the infantry are often stationed on military bases.
That said, they train for any situation that may arise. This means knowing how to operate weapons and equipment, being physically and psychologically prepared for a mission and remaining in good physical shape.
7. Intelligence specialist
Average annual salary: $58,874 (£42,540)
Intelligence specialists are certainly near the top when it comes to the best military careers. They contribute to military operations by gathering, developing and analysing information and signals consumed for usable products and military functions and apparatuses.
8. Unmanned vehicle (UV) operations specialist
Average annual salary: $53,582 (£38,720)
Today, more nations and military branches are dependent on unmanned vehicles (UVs) for reconnaissance and surveillance missions. There are many different types of UVs:
- Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)
- Aerial systems (UAS)
- Ground vehicles (UGV)
- Surface vehicles (USV)
- Underwater vehicles (UUV)
Therefore, it makes sense that one of the most popular military jobs today is that of a UV operations specialist.
But while this is perhaps the most thrilling part of the position, this job has other functions, such as carrying out basic maintenance on systems, target detection and deploying ground and air systems.
9. Military dog handler
Average annual salary: $47,701 (£34,470)
Military-trained dogs play an integral role in every branch of the armed forces. Military dog handlers ensure that these dogs are taken care of and trained properly.
They work with these animals indoors and outdoors, and their duties often involve locating lost or wanted individuals, sniffing out bombs during missions and engaging in drug interdiction.
While military dogs may capture adulation and media attention, the handlers also play an important role since they participate in these dangerous missions.
10. Computer repairer
Average annual salary: $51,490 (£37,210)
Like your everyday workplace, the entire military service relies on computers and technologies for nearly every aspect of its operations. If something goes wrong with the digital infrastructure, an entire combat mission could be in jeopardy.
Computer repairers are tasked with maintaining immense computer systems and networks prevalent on army bases, ships, and planes. They also provide technical support to system users.
11. Weapons maintenance technician
Average annual salary: $53,417 (£38,603)
As a weapons maintenance technician, your job is to ensure that combat vehicles, missile silos, artillery, and any other type of weaponry aboard ships, vehicles, and aircraft are functioning correctly.
During your day-to-day routine, you plan, inspect, test, and repair every necessary service, so these weapon systems are in perfect working condition.
What is great, too, is that you will be given complete basic military training, which will give you an intimate knowledge of these weapons.
12. International and civil affairs specialist
Average annual salary: $66,557 (£48,100)
Offices in embassies are staffed with various personnel who perform all sorts of tasks.
One of these staff members is the international and civil affairs specialist. This role, which is performed primarily in embassies, consulates, and missions overseas, consists of planning, coordinating and conducting civil-military operations.
These specialists will work with organisations, agencies and civilian populations regarding the assigned operational area.
13. Geospatial imaging specialist
Average annual salary: $55,815 (£40,336)
In what is perhaps the most technical position in the military, geospatial imaging specialists are immensely crucial for the advancement and success of national, theatre, and tactical level missions.
These specialists collect, analyse and distribute geospatial imagery generated from geographic information systems (GIS), which store and examine maps and a wide array of geographic data.
Geospatial imaging specialists will perform their duties either in-office facilities or stations inside camps or ships.
14. Space operations specialist
Average annual salary: $73,170 (£52,875)
For the US and many other advanced nations, space is the next frontier for the military. As such, militaries worldwide are looking to staff this military branch with various experts in a broad range of areas. Space operations specialists are just one of these professionals.
A space operation specialist takes care of space warning and control systems, orbital mechanics and transmission. Overall, this position consists of operating space systems to complete space control missions.
15. Aerospace engineer
Average annual salary: $123,021 (£88,900)
The military is perhaps one of the most innovative fields. Considering that governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars every year to ensure their militaries are up to date, this is expected.
Aerospace engineers are the ones that make innovations happen as they direct research programmes and design military aircraft and aerospace equipment. From putting together policies and coordinating procurement programmes to supervising aircraft design projects, aerospace engineers are imperative as aviation technical specialists.
Basic military training is not mandatory, but aerospace engineers are required to hold a four-year degree.
16. Air traffic controller
Average annual salary: $48,932 (£35,360)
Air traffic controllers (ATC) facilitate the safe movement of aircraft. The same position is prevalent in the military, with air traffic controllers ensuring the free flow of aircraft into and out of military airfields.
Unlike a typical ATC who works in civilian airports, this military job requires special training so you can manage the action of combat aircraft participating in close air support and offensive air operations.
Ultimately, you will coordinate and communicate movement information, weather conditions, and the airfield state to pilots and ensure their safety.
Average annual salary: $108,429 (£78,357)
Seamen are tasked with ensuring the smooth operation of most things that transpire on deck. Whether it is working with ropes and cables or maintaining small boat operations, seamen are jack-of-all-trades individuals that make sure that a ship is a well-oiled machine.
18. Flight operations specialist
Average annual salary: $51,199 (£37,000)
Sure, it might not be as fun as ascending to the heavens and engaging in battle. But flight operations specialists are as essential as the pilots since they support the administrative elements to ensure that the military aircraft is up and running. You are not piloting a plane, but you are still doing lots of legwork in flight control centres or air terminals.
Some of the tasks you will be assigned daily will include preparing flight schedules, perform airfield inspections, maintaining flight logs, administering aircrew training and keeping track of various aircraft-related records.
19. Ship engineer
Average annual salary: $78,226 (£56,526)
Are you prepared to sweat? Are you ready for incredibly high noise levels? This is your life as a ship engineer who has been confined to the engine room.
Indeed, ship engineers are responsible for maintaining machinery and equipment, including engines, power generation, deck machinery and electrical wiring. Ship engineers are also the first hands on deck in emergencies (i.e. fires and leaks). Also, you must carry out safety operations to guarantee that everything is in working condition.
20. Environmental health and safety specialist
Average annual salary: $54,346 (£39,271)
Military communities are places for the army personnel to eat, sleep and unwind. This is why environmental health and safety specialists are critical to the military brass.
An environmental health and safety specialist ensures that these military facilities and the stored supplies are free from hazardous conditions, bacteria, and disease. Overall, this position consists of maintaining an atmosphere that takes sanitary compliance, disease control and prevention and general public health into account.
Be it indoors or outdoors, these specialists have an important function that helps the men and women in uniform fulfil their duties.
Finding a job in the military can offer innumerable benefits.
Be it fighting in combat or filling out forms behind a desk, military careers allow you to earn a living, see the world, contribute to your country and enjoy a career that gives you meaning.
And if you don’t know which of these great jobs suit you best, be sure to refer to our career-matching platform, CareerHunter, to discover which paths suit your character, interests and traits.
Salary information is based on data compiled and published by Today’s Military.
Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by XE.com on 05 April 2021.