10 Reasons to Earn a Degree for Your Post-Military Career
As a military service member, you may ask yourself, “Where do I go from here?” Whether you’re a few years or a few months away from your military exit, it’s never too early or too late to prepare for your future as a civilian employee.

If you’re a military veteran, you already have a slight advantage over the rest of the workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in July 2018 that the veteran unemployment rate in June was 3.3 percent, compared to the non-veteran employment rate of 4 percent.

When you add a college degree to the equation, your ability to build the life you want around a successful civilian career significantly improves. Grantham University awards credit for American Council on Education (ACE)-approved corporate and military training, so your military experience could translate into college credits, giving you a head start to earning that degree.

And even if you decide to re-enlist instead of transitioning fully into the civilian world, a bachelor’s or master’s degree can help you get promoted in the military. Bottom line in either case? Higher education – and a career-relevant degree program – can make a huge difference.

With a little breathing room between you and the next step, now’s the time to give yourself a boost in the job market. Here are 10 reasons you should earn a college degree for your post-military, or current military, career:

  1. Earn more money. While pay certainly isn’t everything, a higher salary holds appeal for most job seekers, and those with degrees earn more money. Earlier this year, the BLS reported that full-time workers age 25 and over with a high school diploma (no college) had median weekly earnings of $726, compared to $1,310 for those holding at least a bachelor's degree.
  2. Avoid unemployment. College graduates are less likely to experience unemployment. For people with some college or an associate degree, the BLS reported the unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in April 2018 and 3.7 percent a year earlier. Among workers age 25 and older who graduated high school but did not attend college, the unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in April 2018 and 4.6 percent a year earlier.
  3. Apply the skills you have. The technical skills and other qualities you’ve honed while in the service can give you an edge in the civilian job market. But it’s up to you to position yourself for success. As we noted earlier, your military experience may equate to college credit. To find out how much credit you may have already earned, you’ll want to order your military transcripts (available for veterans and active duty personnel, depending on your situation).
  4. Learn new skills. The military has equipped you with training to excel in a variety of positions, but there are some major differences between the military and civilian workforces. For example, writing and communication are essential interpersonal skills, regardless of field. Though, the military has its own style that may not translate to your new civilian career. A college education can help you adapt.
  5. Live happier, healthier and longer. An American Heart Association article from 2017 shows on average, 25-year-olds with a bachelor’s degree live about nine years longer than those who didn’t graduate high school. College graduates are also healthier, with lower rates of obesity and smoking compared to high school dropouts.

Similarly, a Societyhealth.vcu.edu report explained that people with bachelor’s degrees are far less prone to psychological distress and associated results, compared to those without high school diplomas. For veterans, this point underscores the importance of higher education even more, as Military Times reported post-traumatic stress disorder cases among veterans tripled in the last decade.

  1. Rise through the ranks. Whether you want to pursue a higher-level position in the civilian workforce or become an officer in the military, you need at least a bachelor’s degree. Jobs requiring a postsecondary education, including management positions, made up nearly 37 percent of employment in May 2016, BLS reported.

If you serve in the Army, Marine Corps or Navy, you can be awarded promotion points for using your education benefits and earning your degree. While the Air Force and Coast Guard don’t grant these points, your education level is considered for special assignments and promotion boards.

  1. Find a new path. Maybe you’ve found your passion in the military and want to continue on that path. Maybe you’re looking for a new direction. Grantham offers more than 50 online degree programs in high-growth fields. From information technology to criminal justice to health care, there are many opportunities to apply your skills and attributes to a civilian career.
  2. Get transitional support. Making the leap from service member to civilian can be exciting, but challenging. Grantham has dedicated resources to guide you in this transition, from comprehensive planning guides to one-on-one assistance. We can help you choose the right program for your goals, understand how to use your military education benefits and define your career direction.

And for veterans, in particular, our university is very well equipped. As a school founded by a veteran, Grantham is staffed with employees who know all about the specific needs of this group of students. In fact, our Veteran Support Team (VST) is a comprehensive resource of assistance for both veterans and their families.

  1. Build a professional brand and network. A college degree is step one toward finding your ideal career, but expanding your professional network is essential to open up a world of opportunities you may not have considered. Grantham’s Career Services professionals can help you do just that … as well as optimize your resume, boost your social media presence, prepare you for interviews and much more.
  2. Gain momentum for future goals. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center analysis, employment is on the rise for jobs requiring higher levels of preparation — i.e., more education, training and experience. The number of workers in these kinds of jobs increased by 68 percent from 1980-2015. So, the more you advance your knowledge, the more you can advance your career!

Succeed in School and Beyond with Grantham

Don’t be passed over by job candidates with a four-year college degree, but minimal experience. Many service members turn to online learning as a convenient way to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree while keeping up with a hectic military schedule.

If you’re considering going back to school, contact Grantham today! From scholarships, to a reduced tuition rate, our Heroes Program and more, our university strives to help military students make the most of their education benefits.