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How to Transition from Military to Civilian Life with an MBA

September 20, 2021
Military mother sits at dining room table with child on her lap while working on a laptop

Leaving the military and entering the civilian business world is a significant milestone. Aside from the obvious differences (a business “uniform” is less of a uniform and more a turn of phrase), you’ll find yourself having to adjust to new organizational structures, methods of communication, work hours, and more.

Don’t underestimate the power of your background, however. Military personnel have a lot of highly transferable and sought-after skills that make them desirable candidates. In fact, a 2015 study from the Apollo Research Institute showed that 81% of surveyed employers rated military employees as being stronger or much stronger in terms of demonstrating teamwork skills, and 77% said that military employees are more reliable and have a better work ethic.1

How an MBA Can Help Your Career

You might have held some more technical, administrative positions during your service, or you may have held none at all. Either way, a route that many veterans take to ease into a civilian job is earning their Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) degree. An MBA provides in-depth education and training on a variety of topics so that you have a strong foundational knowledge for several job opportunities. At Seattle Albers School of Business and Economics, for example, you’ll study across all critical areas of business operation, including marketing, finance, risk management, international business, negotiations, and more.

Often, MBA graduates can leverage their degree to earn higher salaries, gain promotions, and pursue new career paths. Some employers may even offer to sponsor your degree, especially if you choose to specialize in a field that they need. The prestige of an MBA, combined with your impressive military background, will give you a firm advantage over other job candidates.

If you’ve already earned your MBA or are considering what the degree can do for you, read our list of the top eight MBA jobs below to see if one might be the right fit.2

Top MBA Jobs on the Rise

1. Management analyst/consultant

Median pay: $165,000

Job profile: Management analysts (often referred to as management consultants) can be instrumental for any company in any industry. An analyst’s job is to observe and immerse themselves in a company’s day-to-day operations, identify areas for improvement, and create and implement a successful plan of action. This often involves a large amount of data analysis, inter-department coordination, and tactful communication.3 With its high salary potential and a variety of clients to work with, it was ranked the #10 Best Business Job in 2021.4

2. Financial analyst

Median pay: $81,590 per year

Job profile: Financial analysts use stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and more to help businesses and individuals make smart investment decisions. As an analyst, your work could range from one-on-one counseling to multi-level strategies for large corporations. Most analysts earn a bachelor’s degree in finance or accounting to get started, but an MBA will give you deeper knowledge to land more senior positions with higher salaries.

3. HR specialist

Median pay: $61,210 per year

Job profile: If you’re a people person, then human resources would be a great fit for you. You might not think of HR as a typical business job, but these specialists have the power to shape a company’s success from the inside out. From finding good candidates, to navigating workplace issues, to managing payroll and benefits, their work touches every part of the employee journey, and thus affects company-wide performance and satisfaction.

4. Financial advisor

Median pay: $87,850 per year

Job profile: Similar to a financial analyst, financial advisors help people and businesses handle their money wisely. Where they differ, however, is that a financial advisor also helps to create budgets, file tax reports, build retirement plans, and more. This position involves a lot of planning, communication, and flexibility, as you’ll need to meet with your clients frequently to assess and update their financial plans. Helping people achieve their financial goals is worth the hard work, though; U.S.& World Report named it the #4 Best Business Job in 2021.4

5. Accountant

Median pay: $71,550 per year

Job profile: Nobody knows numbers, statistics, and reporting better than an accountant. Day to day, they work with organizations or individuals on filing taxes, identifying fraud, performing audits, and reporting on all financial figures. As the saying goes: as long as people have money, they’ll need others to help them manage it.

An accountant’s work is highly organized and detail-oriented, but it’s not always about spreadsheets and budgets. A good accountant can look beyond the numbers to see the human impact in their work, including how to effectively lead a team through a busy season and beyond.

6. Computer systems analyst

Median pay: $77,740 per year

Job profile: As the world becomes more and more digital, business and information technology (IT) are closer than ever. A computer systems analyst has an understanding of both subjects and can help organizations assess, update, or replace their computer systems.5 The job takes a fair amount of patience and coordination, but you can be certain your skills will be in demand for years to come.

7. Web developer

Median pay: $73,760 per year

Job profile: Have you ever visited a website and gotten frustrated by its poor usability or design? With the right training and the right MBA, you can help create better websites for businesses all around the world. Web developers can work on their own, either as an independent consultant or with a firm, and are masterminds in user experience, site design, and website applications. This role has some creative freedom as well, and may involve working with writers, graphic designers, and business owners to create a site that’s all their own.6

8. Database administrator

Median pay: $93,750 per year

Job profile: There’s no denying that data is one of business’s top commodities. What’s not so obvious, however, is how to successfully store, organize, and protect it. A database administrator plays the key role of setting up, managing, and updating databases according to a company’s needs. Depending on the size of the company, this could mean millions of pieces of highly-sensitive data that must be guarded at all costs. The role comes with a lot of responsibility, but that also means more opportunities for growth, management experience, and salary increases.7

For more information about MBA jobs and salaries, please visit our Careers page.

Seattle University is Here to Serve You

Seattle University and the Albers School of Business and Economics are proud to welcome military servicemen and women into our community. Your enviable work ethic and commitment to excellence will serve you well in our online MBA program, which also has a part-time workload for increased flexibility. From military and veteran financial aid, to networking and career events, to one-on-one academic advising, we hope you’ll take advantage of the host of resources available to you.


1. Retrieved on September 13, 2021, from topmba.com/jobs/military-mba-jobs
2. Retrieved on September 13, 2021, from military.com/veteran-jobs/career-advice/job-hunting/8-hot-jobs-for-mba-grads.html
3. Retrieved on September 13, 2021, from usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/articles/hot-jobs-for-mba-graduates
4. Retrieved on September 13, 2021, from money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rankings/best-business-jobs
5. Retrieved on September 13, 2021, from money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/computer-systems-analyst
6. Retrieved on September 13, 2021, from money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/web-developer
7. Retrieved on September 13, 2021, from money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/database-administrator