Five Empowering Trade Careers for Women Leaving the Military


Transitioning from military service to civilian life is a significant step for anyone. However, it can also be an opportunity to start fresh in a new career. The trade fields have a reputation for being male-dominated but they have been increasingly more welcoming to women. According to the Department of Labor report, women currently made up just under 14% of all apprenticeships in 2021 and there are over 230,000 women working in the construction industry alone. With that in mind here are five trade careers that offer strong wages, job growth, and a chance to apply the skills and resilience honed in the military. 

1. Electrician

Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems in homes, businesses, and factories. The median pay in 2022 was $60,040 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with an expected job growth of 8% from 2020 to 2030.

The military trains personnel in similar electrical tasks, making this a natural transition. Electricians also work independently, a benefit for those accustomed to leadership roles. 

Drawbacks include the risk of electrical shocks and falls. Additionally, the job can be physically demanding and may require working evenings and weekends.

2. Construction Manager

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from start to finish. They earn a median salary of $98,890 per year as of 2022, with the BLS projecting a job growth of 10% from 2020 to 2030. 

This role could be an excellent fit for veterans who led teams or managed logistics. Construction management also offers the opportunity to work on meaningful projects and see tangible results. 

The downside is that the job can be highly stressful due to deadlines and budgeting concerns. The role often requires long hours and dealing with unexpected issues that can arise during construction. 

3. HVAC Technician

HVAC technicians work on heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems that control the temperature and air quality in buildings. They earn a median annual wage of $48,630 as of 2022, and job growth is expected to be 13% from 2020 to 2030.

Many veterans will find their problem-solving skills and mechanical aptitude are assets in this role. The job provides a mix of hands-on work and customer interaction. 

The physical demands and potentially hazardous conditions, such as dealing with refrigerants or working in extreme weather, are the primary drawbacks. 

4. Aircraft Mechanic

Airplanes move more people than any other form of transportation in the world and that is most likely not going to change in the near future. With that in mind a career as an Aircraft Mechanic can be enjoyable and stable. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for aircraft mechanics and service technicians was $65,230 in May 2022. However, wages can vary widely depending on factors such as experience, specialization, and location. 

The BLS also projects that employment for aircraft mechanics will grow 5% from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is driven by increasing air travel demand and the need to maintain an expanding fleet of aircraft. 

Many veterans will find their attention to detail, time management and organizational skills will set them apart from their civilian counterparts. 

One of the biggest drawbacks of this field is Aircraft mechanics often work on a shift schedule, which might include nights, weekends, and holidays, as aircraft maintenance is a round-the-clock necessity. 

5. Windmill Technician 

Whether you believe in climate change or not, green energy options will continue to grow and develop in the United States and across the world. With that in mind Windmill Technicians are experiencing unprecedented demand. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for wind turbine technicians in 2020 was $56,230, with the top 10 percent earning more than $83,560. Wages can vary based on factors such as experience, location, and the size of the company.

The job outlook for wind turbine technicians is very promising. BLS projects a 44 percent growth in employment between 2019 and 2029, which is significantly faster than the average for all occupations. 

Military veterans can leverage their bravery, problem-solving abilities, and physical fitness in this role. As technicians work in small groups and extremely hazardous environments. 

Final Thoughts 

Leaving the military and moving into civilian life can be scary and stressful. But it’s also an opportunity for new beginnings. Right time, right place, right uniform is still 70% of what you need to be successful in the civilian world.Trades offer numerous opportunities for women leaving the military to apply their skills, work in stable, high-paying jobs, and help to change the perception of these industries. 

Also know that, many of these trades offer apprenticeship programs which means you will earn an hourly wage while you are learning. Apprenticeships can be combined with the GI Bill meaning you will collect your monthly housing allowance on top of your paycheck. 

While the trades are historically male-dominated fields, more and more women are entering them daily. There has never been a better time for women veterans to consider a career in the trades.

Written by, Lester Burkes, Army Veteran and former Diesel Mechanic who is passionate about the Trades!