Whether you’re transitioning back to civilian life or just looking to change your career path, a great place to look is the supply chain industry.

The global supply chain has experienced unprecedented stress in recent months because of COVID-19. Nevertheless, this pressure has also uncovered many new opportunities by highlighting shortcomings in the existing supply chain structure.

What this means for you is more opportunities for work in a variety of different capacities. Even better is that, as a Veteran, you are uniquely qualified for many of these positions because of the skills and discipline you’ve gained through your service.

With that said, let’s cover five excellent supply chain jobs you may want to consider in your career search.

Logistics Specialist

To paraphrase legendary military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, the work of the armed forces boils down to getting soldiers to the right place, at the right time, and with the right equipment. This is logistics in a nutshell, and it shows why this career is a perfect fit for Veterans.

As a logistics specialist, you’ll be responsible for the movement of products and materials throughout their lifecycle. You’ll work with vendors, distributors, and transportation carriers to ensure those items depart and arrive at the right place, and at the right time.

You’ll be rewarded well for this work, too. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that logisticians earn an average of $74,750 per year, with a 5% job growth through 2028.

Forklift Technician

Among the tens of thousands of pieces of equipment the military uses daily, a sizable portion of them are forklifts. For everything from handling missiles to food supplies, forklifts play an integral role in military operations.

The good news for Veterans is that mechanical experience is transferable to civilian forklift repair. That includes experience working on automobiles, diesel technology, and even electronics, given the rising popularity of electric lift trucks.

You can count on being in high demand as a forklift technician – especially considering that the industry is experiencing a critical shortage, due in large part to a retiring workforce.

Truck Driver

Despite a reprieve due to the effects of COVID-19, the trucking industry is facing an acute deficit of truck drivers. Estimates from the American Trucking Association predict a shortfall of perhaps 160,000 drivers by 2028.

Though not a perfect fit for everyone, the life of a long-haul truck driver will have its appeal to some. In fact, many Veterans’ non-tangible skills translate well to driving, including:

  • Situational awareness
  • Ability to work independently
  • Ability to work long hours and unusual shifts

And there’s another incentive to consider for this occupation: Driver scarcity has caused desperate trucking lines to increase wages as high as 18% over 2019’s rates.

Forklift Operator

The job of a forklift operator involves many of the same skills and attributes as that of a truck driver. But instead of requiring a commercial driver’s license (CDL), which can take weeks to acquire, you can get your forklift license after just a few hours of training.

Despite a shift toward automation, the job outlook for forklift operators is still growing as fast as the average for other jobs. And with surging demand from e-commerce, there’s little doubt more forklift drivers will be needed to work in warehouses and fulfillment centers.

The most recent estimate indicates that lift truck operators make $17.54 per hour on average, which can be a great boost for those Veterans coming from lower-paying work sectors.

IT Professional

Supply chains – military or civilian – depend heavily on technology to keep up the pace. Moreover, many companies are involved in developing innovative technologies to improve warehouse efficiency, equipment uptime, and out-the-door times. This means there are excellent opportunities for those with information technology (IT) skills.

Some of the most exciting developments are in the industrial internet of things (IIoT), along with robotics and autonomous vehicles. And working with these technologies means having a chance to help build the “warehouse of the future,” giving IT professionals an extra level of job satisfaction.

Those with IT experience can earn an excellent living too, with salary ranges from $54,760 to $122,840 per year.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, the supply chain is an excellent place to look for jobs if you’re a Veteran. The range of occupations spans many different experience levels and specializations. And you can make a great living to boot. So, take a few moments to consider your background and everything you bring to the table. You might just find a great fit in this industry.

The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products and services on the part of VA.

Alex Hilke is a writer with Conger Industries, a material handling dealership and service center headquartered in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

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Published on Sep. 30, 2020

Estimated reading time is 4 min.

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