How to Match Your MOS to a Civilian Career or Industry

Military Transition

Recently a ClearanceJobs reader asked the question “How do I know what industry my MOS is a match for?” A very valid question, as in most cases military skills are matched to individual civilian jobs and not viewed from a higher-level. The military version of an industry is an occupation, and the good news is that almost any military occupation has a civilian industry equivalent.

Defining industries

But before we get to the mechanics of matching, let’s look at 20 of the more popular civilian industries as defined by My Next Move, a U.S. Department of Labor website for veterans.

Administrative and Support Services Manufacturing
Arts and entertainment Media and Communication
Construction Mining, Gas and Oil
Education Professional, Science and Technical
Farming, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting Real Estate and Rentals
Finance and Insurance Retail
Government Service
Health and Counseling Transportation and Storage
Hotel and Food Utilities
Management Wholesale and Commercial Sales

Each one of these industries can be further broken down into careers within that industry. For example, under Administrative and Support Services, 69 possible careers are listed.

While the most common approach is to dig down and align specific civilian job categories with Military Occupation Specialties (MOSs), let’s take a more macro approach and align a military occupation group to a specific civilian industry.

Below are two tables; one for enlisted military members, the other for officers. Along the left side of each table are military occupation groups – the military’s version of industries. Notice how many of the occupation groups match up with the civilian industries shown in the table above.

For example, the civilian industry Administrative and Support Services coincides with the enlisted occupation groups Administrative and Support Service. On the officer side it matches well with Executive, Administrative and Managerial, along with Support Services.

The number of personnel listed by branch across each group, and the totals to the right side, can be useful in estimating the potential competition in that occupation to its corresponding civilian industry.

Enlisted Army Air Force Coast Guard Marine Corps Navy Total enlisted personnel in each occupational group
Occupational group
Administrative 5,575 14,095 1,678 11,691 18,244 51,283
Combat Specialty  101,873 618 637 40,108 8,265 151,501
Construction  15,050 5,203 6,377 3,692 30,322
Electronic and Electrical Equipment Repair  29,276 29,988 4,351 16,673 48,921 129,209
Engineering, Science, and Technical  41,620 50,708 1,232 26,994 41,017 161,571
Healthcare  28,362 15,431 729 23,843 68,365
Human Resource Development  15,424 7,800 1 2,330 4,019 29,574
Machine Operator and Production  4,374 6,283 1,744 2,488 8,404 23,293
Media and Public Affairs  6,016 7,039 140 2,432 3,744 19,371
Protective Service  21,010 33,951 2,610 6,035 12,961 76,567
Support Service  9,913 5,193 1,111 2,210 8,356 26,783
Transportation and Material Handling  47,047 28,236 10,431 22,962 33,522 142,198
Vehicle and Machinery Mechanic  43,725 43,290 5,523 21,168 46,984 160,690
Non-occupation or unspecified coded personnel 2,609 6,291 1,568 1,509 2,582 14,559
Total enlisted personnel for each military branch and Coast Guard 371,874 254,126 31,755 162,977 264,554 1,085,286
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Manpower Data Center

 

 

Officer Army Air Force Coast Guard Marine Corps Navy Total officer personnel in each occupational group
Occupational group
Combat Specialty  21,453 3,763 4,375 6,152 35,743
Engineering, Science, and Technical  23,010 15,475 4,278 10,334 53,097
Executive, Administrative, and Managerial  13,142 6,730 2,450 6,908 29,230
Healthcare  11,281 8,841 6,845 26,967
Human Resource Development 2,690 1,556 707 3,496 8,449
Media and Public Affairs  304 284 197 268 1,053
Protective Service  3,022 987 416 1,186 5,611
Support Service  1,625 735 38 990 3,388
Transportation  10,887 18,309 5,793 10,357 45,346
Non-occupation or unspecified coded personnel 2,812 3,670 8,198 2,692 7,333 24,705
Total officer personnel for each military branch and Coast Guard 90,226 60,350 8,198 20,946 53,869 233,589
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Manpower Data Center

To drill down even further, let’s head over to Careers Similar to MOS at My Next Move. Using the Army MOS of 42A – Human Resource Specialist – we see the civilian careers that most closely match that MOS are:

  • Executive Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
  • Human Resource Assistants
  • Office Clerks, General
  • Word Processors and Typists
  • First Line Supervisors of Office and Administrative Workers
  • Labor Relations Specialists
  • Human Resources Managers

Because the Army MOS of 42A is in the Administrative occupation area, it easily crosswalks over to the Administrative and Support Services industry on the civilian side. But how about something a little more obscure – like a Navy Submarine Sonar Technician?

According to My Next Move, it crosswalks over to:

  • Electrical and Electronic Equipment Assemblers
  • Electrical and Electronics Installers
  • Electrical and Electronic Repairers
  • Explosive Workers
  • First Line Supervisor of Mechanics, Installers and Repairers
  • Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers and Weighers
  • Radar and Sonar Technicians

On the military side, a Navy Submarine Sonar Technician falls under the subheading of Submarine Electronics in the Navy’s career grouping of Engineering and Applied Science, which falls under the larger occupation group of Engineering, Science and Technical. On the civilian side, most of these corresponding civilian careers could fall under either the Manufacturing or Service industry, depending on the career. All of the military branches have their own career listings if you visit their recruitment websites.

With more or less of a direct correlation between military occupations and civilian industries, in most cases it is relatively easy to walk an MOS over to a military occupation group and further crosswalk it over to a corresponding civilian industry. Once a civilian industry is identified, then use the Browse Careers by Industry search engine in My Next Move to match careers within that civilian industry.

Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.