You’ve probably come across the term “Veterans preference” at some point during your job search. But what does that mean exactly — and how can it help you land a job at VA?

Veterans preference means that, as a Veteran, you may move ahead of non-Veterans in the federal hiring process. Veterans who qualify for disability receive greater preference.

“Approximately 40% of our employees hold Veteran status, so we’re really proud of that fact and we encourage Veterans to apply,” said Dave Aragon, VA recruitment consultant, in a video on applying to VA.

However, Veterans preference is not a guarantee you’ll be hired. There are other groups — like military spouses and returning Peace Corps volunteers — who also receive preference for federal jobs. In addition, some jobs are open only to current federal employees.

Getting in the door

Because there are so many applicants – including other Veterans, for VA jobs – make sure you apply for jobs that are the best match for your skills.

“There are millions of Veterans in the U.S. and many of them want to work at VA, so there is a lot of competition for these jobs. You have the best chance of success if you apply for a job for which you are highly qualified,” said Darren Sherrard, associate director of VA recruitment marketing.

If most or all of your work experience is in the military, you may not feel you are highly qualified right out of the gate.

“One difficult thing for Veterans is to convert valuable military skills into those valued in the private sector as well,” Sherrard wrote in a blog post. “I encourage everyone to take the same winning steps and attitude that made us successful as warriors and apply them into our daily lives and our job searches.”

With a combination of a military health background and Veterans preference, there are a number of positions at VA for which you could meet the requirements straight out of the military.

Learn about these civilian careers — like intermediate care technicians (ICTs) or nursing assistants — through our Transitioning Military Personnel initiative. This program connects former service members with civilian careers at VA, the nation’s largest integrated health care organization.

But what if you don’t have military health experience? Consider applying for support service positions, such as housekeeper, transportation clerk or engineering technician. Veterans preference commonly gives you a boost in applying for one of these jobs.

Continue your education

Once you’re in the door, we’ll help you acquire the skills and training that you need to grow in any direction you want.

We offer several scholarships that can help you begin or continue your health care education without piling up debt, as well as the VA National Education for Employees Program (VANEEP) that pays your full salary and up to $40,117 toward the cost of higher education.

Some VA medical centers pay for courses from nearby colleges and universities, while the VA Talent Management System provides access to thousands of online courses, learning activities and training. Mentoring and on-the-job training are also baked into our DNA.

Work at VA

Interested in a future helping your fellow Veterans? Use your Veteran status to secure a VA career.

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Published on May. 15, 2020

Estimated reading time is 2.9 min.

Views to date: 560


  1. Andrew Hartsell June 14, 2020 at 8:21 am

    Not sure anyone is listening to these posts. I can relate I have 20 years of logistic experience working as an AGR in my state and was medically discharged towards the end of my federal active service. I have submitted over 60 applications in the last two years. I was referred a few times but never heard back after the automated response. I have had multiple reviews and mentored changes for a tailored resume. Not sure if its supporting documents that I am missing. I always add in the required documents not sure if I’m submitting the wrong attachements. I’ve followed up on application with the poster to ensure it wasn’t a missing document or a flaw in my packet somthing simple that I had overlooked even after the position was closed. There response was more or less nothing wrong and they were unsure why I didnt get any follow up. I have veteran preference, disability rated above 70 % , strong work ethic,
    strong values,determined to learn and become a subject matter expert on job responsibilities , high reviews on NCOER’s. I would assume there are alot of people applying for the same position and just end up getting weeded out during the application process. If anyone has some sound advice or maybe some tips or review process that helped any information would be appreciated.

  2. Todd Parker June 12, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    Thanks for your post, as one with PTSD, I greatly appreciate that.

  3. NIFARA ALI June 11, 2020 at 10:24 am

    I have served my country and now a Veteran with Disability Benefits since 1990 I have applied for different positions at VA Hospitals my background was in Nursing and Psychology.
    PHX. Chicago, NYC I have had my Medical Treatments from these different Hospitals and have applied for positions never received a response.
    I agree when you visit VA facilities you see people who are inept, lack customer service, and sometimes wasting my tax $$$ not doing their jobs, some have the audacity to be disrespectful and rude to you as a Veteran like you are asking for a handout.
    I turned to private sector and used all my Military training, experience, talents and skills to build my own business after being ignored since my return in 1990.

  4. Bo I Baldomero June 11, 2020 at 2:23 am

    I have an Xray license since 2015 after graduating using my GI Bill and ive been trying my luck to get in to VA Long Beach CA. I tried everything by sending my application through and i went to talk to the radiology chief to try to pesuade them but keep getting rejected saying that there is no opening for my position but i keep seeing new faces everytime i come for medical visit. If someone can help me pull a string to the system i will be so glad. I am an Iraq war veteran serve the army for 8 years with honorable discharge and i want to serve again by working at the VA hospital with my fellow vets

  5. Keven Goodwin June 11, 2020 at 12:00 am

    Bogus ! Applied time and time again. No response.. maybe referred but never a positive experience. The process is a Joke !
    This needs some sort of oversight.

  6. Adam Boettiger June 10, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    I’ve considered working at the VA but the process to apply is so convoluted and difficult to navigate and understand that it makes it less appealing. I can only imagine how veterans who have PTSD or TBI would feel during the experience. Get an EASY button or make Advocates available to help navigate the process.

  7. M W June 10, 2020 at 9:48 pm

    I tend to agree with SW. I’m a protected veteran who also has his BSME thanks to the GI Bill after I got out of the service and I have yet to even get a call back on all the jobs I’ve applied for with the VA as well as jobs posted on USA Jobs. Then when I actually go to the VA I’m beside myself as to how some of those people even got jobs considering the lack of talent I’m subjected to. I’m beginning to think Affirmative Action mandates are more powerful than giving a portion of my life to this country.

  8. robert a white June 10, 2020 at 7:59 pm

    I’m a Respiratory Therapist and it is so hard to get a job at VA near me. Would like to go back to school for Surgical Physician’s assistant.

  9. david lee liverman June 10, 2020 at 7:45 pm

    really? Since 1987 and 30 years of crying, Sar Banes Oxley stuffed down my throat. 4 degrees on the wall. No body gives a shit. Really?
    I have been forced to exist by being independent. Do my own investing and living off it. Va denies benefits. I am on my own. Really? I have knowledge that exceeds 99 percent of the walking public, have seen what they do not talk about. Completely forgotten by the government,
    Really? Get real!!

  10. Loring Douglas carter June 10, 2020 at 6:57 pm

    Would be an interesting challenge to work for va, would like the opportunity

  11. S W May 15, 2020 at 5:25 pm

    Why aren’t you posting my comments?!!!

    [Editor: We moderate all comments. You’d be surprised by the amount of spam we receive.]

  12. S W May 15, 2020 at 5:23 pm

    Veterans preference only helped me with civilian jobs and back then I didn’t have anyone holding my hand and cooing over me about how to convert my military skills to civilian. I ended up Not being a mechanic as I had been in the military, why? Because of my gender, I was blatantly discriminated against at every garage I applied to.
    Meanwhile, it did nothing being a veteran to help me gain employment at my VA. I was DISCRIMINATED against anyway because of my age. They hired people who were YOUNGER and Less knowledgeable, that had less experience than me. The last job, they didn’t even have the courtesy to mail me a letter telling me I hadn’t been hired. I’m still waiting to find out when I start work. (sarcasm added) I also got screwed over in mediation for the discrimination complaint I filed. I got nothing!!! The only way to get a job at VA is to have family working there or drop your pants.

    • anon June 10, 2020 at 7:20 pm

      i once applied to a mechanic shop and the hiring manager realized i was a veteran and flat out said”our interview is over, we don’t condone, or hire baby killers in our establishment” i tried to sue him for discrimination…and lost because they had higher paid lawyers…the struggle is real.

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