7 High-Paced Jobs for Veterans Who Need Action at Work

Staff Sgt. Christian Winters (right) and Spc. Christian Grubb, air traffic controllers with Fox Company, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade.(U.S. Army/Sgt. Steven Galimore)

For many veterans, the idea of getting an office job, sitting at a desk and filing TPS reports is enough to make them reconsider their decision to leave the military. A lot of separating veterans will miss the fast-paced world of their military job. 

Still, everyone in the military needs a plan for getting out, even if that date is four years or 20 years away. Because not every military specialty has an exact civilian counterpart and not every service member wants to be in their military career forever, many will seek different career fields. 

Luckily, those who enjoy their fast-paced environment in the military can still find a work center filled with the controlled chaos they’ve come to know and love. Here are just a few examples, complete with median salaries from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

1. Air Traffic Controller

There’s a reason air traffic controllers made a median salary of more than $129,000 in 2021. Managing aircraft in the air, tracking flight patterns and overseeing ground traffic at an airport is a stressful, time-consuming job from the time you clock in until you punch out for the day. Along with managing safety risks and updating pilots on weather patterns, there’s a lot to think about. 

The good news is that a bachelor’s degree, medical background check and certification from the Federal Aviation Administration is all you need to get started in this breakneck, high-paying job.

2. EMT/Paramedic

With a median salary of around $36,000, emergency medical technicians may not make as much as some of the other jobs on this list, but veterans who want to continue serving and saving lives while working in a high-speed career find this field particularly interesting. 

Read: Call of Duty Endowment's Call to Action to Recognize Medics and Corpsmen in Civilian Health Care

It’s also one of the most in-demand jobs you can get with just an associate’s degree. After getting certified in the state in which you intend to work, you can literally hit the ground running. Best of all, for medics and corpsmen who served, more states are accepting military training in license requirements. 

3. Chefs and Line Cooks

For some veterans, cooking is a passion. Others who just like the consistent feeling of a job well done over the course of their workday can find that in working in a commercial kitchen. In 2021, the median salary of chefs and head cooks was $50,160, which is a great income for such a demanding but rewarding field. 

Those who attend culinary schools for a bachelor’s degree or go to work in major restaurants or train under renowned chefs have the opportunity to rise even higher, earn more and maybe even design their own menus. One thing they all have in common is that working in a kitchen is constant work. 

4. Reporter/Journalist

A lot of veterans might have some intense feelings about members of the media, but those who enjoy working at the speed of the news cycle have an opportunity to do something about it. Be they working in print, television or even radio, the demand on reporters can be near-constant, especially during important events. 

Many newsrooms, local and national, require at least a bachelor’s degree. Reporters must also be familiar with the media technology that is important to the industry and have a good command of the English language (or whatever language they might be working in). Journalists and reporters made a median salary of around $48,000 in 2021. 

5. Teacher

Taking care of a family of children can be tough, even when you’re not trying to teach them. Imagine taking care of a class of children while trying to impart your wisdom and the state-dictated curriculum. Now you’ve got your hands full. Both primary and secondary school teachers made a median income of $61,820 in 2021. 

Teachers often require a bachelor’s degree and an additional concentration in the subject they’re teaching. Many states also require certification to be a teacher. Both of these requirements may vary by state and district, so be sure to check those out in your area. 

6. Public Relations/Advertising

On the other side of journalists and reporters, we can often find PR firms and advertising agencies. Being part of the apparatus that manages strategic communications, product launches and scheduling media (just to name a few responsibilities) means a job that requires your constant attention. 

With a median annual salary of just more than $62,000 per year, public relations, advertising managers and other communications specialists started their job with bachelor’s degrees in a career field that is expected to jump 11% in demand the next nine years.

7. Production Line Workers

The people who work the assembly lines at American manufacturers are there to ensure the line moves at maximum efficiency. Although there’s little time for breaks, many of these manufacturing jobs are union jobs and allow for them anyway. 

The people who work these production lines are required to maintain a steady pace for the duration of their shift, but can get started with no college education and just a little on-the-job training. Workers on an average production line can earn a median salary of more than $37,000 per year, but more skilled trades, such as machinists and tool and die makers, can earn almost $50,000. 

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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