Leaving the armed forces can be a daunting prospect, no matter how long you’ve served.
After living in the regimented lifestyle of the army, being unleashed into a world of total career freedom is a big change, so it’s only natural that you might feel nervous about leaving the safety net of the forces.
Your army career might have seen you fighting on the front line or getting involved with exciting global manoeuvres, and you may also have had a very close-knit group of army friends to share your experiences with - so it’s no surprise that entering the civilian workplace can feel comparatively quiet and less connected.
What’s more, the transition to life on civvy street can really take its toll if it isn’t handled properly, so it’s important to explore all of the options open to you once you decide it’s time to move on from the military.
So, if you’re thinking about leaving the forces and aren’t sure about your next step, read on to find out about the options available to you. From mechanics and maintenance to roles in logistics and engineering, there are plenty of opportunities out there!
The move back to civvy street
About 20,000 personnel leave the services every year, whether through the conclusion of their commission, redundancy or discharge.
The process of leaving the armed forces is a lengthy one; mostly to prepare you for the change and ensure that you have a decent amount of time to get used to the idea of life outside the military - and to change your mind if you decide you’d prefer to stay in!
Everyone who leaves the forces has access to support and advice: financial, employment and mental health advice is covered widely, and you’ll also get to develop a Personal Resettlement Plan that is tailored to your needs.
This could include things such as interview tips for the civilian world or taking vocational training courses to improve your experience and employability.
Transferring your skills
Your experience in the army means that you will have a variety of skills that are valuable to employers.
Service personnel possess a wide range of skills which make them very attractive assets to civilian employers; for starters, a military background often means a great work ethos, the ability to communicate well and work as a team as well as being able to follow instructions well.
What’s more, people who have served in the forces also demonstrate great leadership skills, discipline and acceptance of responsibility.
Plus, after years of being told where to go and when you can and can’t take leave, ex-forces workers are often thought of as flexible and positive in the face of difficult times.
Often, forces leavers worry that a career in the military means there are limited choices available once they leave the military - but this is far from the truth! In fact, there are many options open to you, from using your specific forces skills in a civilian role to trying something else entirely.
So, if you’re stuck for ideas, here are a few popular employment routes that are possible in life after the forces. You’ll be surprised at what you have to offer!
4 popular employment routes after leaving the armed forces:
1. Logistics and supply chain
One option for life after the forces is to consider a job in supply and logistics. At M&E, we are always on the lookout for highly-skilled workers to manage supply chain systems and logistics planning.
From warehouse workers and forklift operators to supply technicians and logistics specialists, there are a number of opportunities in supply and logistics - so you’re certain to find one that’s right for you.
During your time in the military, you will have built up a variety of transferable skills such as organisation, time management and logistical skills, making supply and logistic roles a natural progression from military life.
The Royal Logistics Corps is a good example of the forces’ logistics element; the Corps includes drivers, storemen, chefs, movement controllers and postal and courier operators.
All these jobs involve attention to detail and working with extensive supply chains to ensure that the army is kept on its feet.
So, if you have experience of supply and logistics (especially if you have served in the RLC), this could be the perfect route for you. Find out more about supply and logistic opportunities with M&E here.
2. Maintenance and engineering
Another option for ex-military personnel is maintenance and engineering roles. At M&E, we recruit maintenance and engineering workers across the land, aviation and marine sectors, both in the workshop and the field, covering maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of equipment.
From heavy vehicle mechanics to mechanic roles in the aviation sector, there are plenty of options available.
One possibility is to work as a heavy vehicle mechanic, a role which is well suited to those who are qualified to work on heavy equipment and vehicles such as HGVs.
Your time in the army will have equipped you with skills such as attention to detail, physical stamina and analytical skills, all of which are essential to working as a heavy vehicle mechanic. Find out more about working as a heavy vehicle mechanic here.
Heavy vehicle mechanics work on large vehicles such as trucks, tanks, buses and coaches to diagnose faults, replace, repair or adjust any worn parts and generally ensure the optimum performance of vehicles.
At M&E, we are proud to have formed strong relationships with clients looking for maintenance staff to work on complex military equipment, which means that you could have the opportunity to work on complex machinery such as M1 tanks.
Alternatively, if you have experience in aircraft mechanics, you could consider applying for mechanical roles in the aviation sector.
The UK has a skill shortage in this area, so demand for skilled technicians is high, which could open up a wide range of opportunities for ex-military personnel.
We also have a number of aircraft mechanic roles available at M&E, with the opportunity to work on specialist and advanced aircraft such as the AH-64 Apache, CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk.
Our aviation roles are also located around the world and offer unbeatable chances to further your career whilst enjoying competitive pay rates. Find out more about the career path of an aviation mechanic here.
Another avenue that ex-military personnel can explore are roles in transportation.
The UK defence sector uses a range of combat and transportation vehicles with multi-billion pound contracts regularly awarded to manufacturers to keep the military moving, and as a result, we have a number of transportation roles available at M&E.
From heavy vehicle drivers and ADR drivers to crane operators, container handler operators, recovery vehicle operators, fuel handlers and shipping and receiving personnel, there are a number of different options to explore; have a look at the roles we are currently recruiting for here.
4. Contracting overseas
Finally, if you are thinking about leaving the armed forces and transitioning back to life on civvy street, contract work can be a great way to ease yourself back in.
For starters, contractors are deployed to different locations across the world - some of which might be familiar! - and you’ll also be working with like-minded people.
What’s more, the skills you gained in the military such as communication, attention to detail, leadership and organisational skills all transfer really well to contract work.
So, you’ll have the opportunity to continue to develop your skills whilst also expanding your experience. Discover more benefits of contracting overseas here.
We’re here to help!
With the help and guidance of a specialist recruiter, life after the forces has the potential to open a lot of new doors - and you might just find yourself presented with opportunities that you never thought possible!