Civilian Jobs After Service As A Combat Medic

Updated: May 9, 2022
In this Article

    Combat medics have a tough job. They are responsible for emergency care on and off the battlefield, depending on mission requirements, operations tempo, and other factors. Each branch of the military has some form of a combat medic though they may have different career field names and job descriptions.

    In the Army, there is an MOS with the job titled Combat Medic Specialists, an MOS also referred to as 68W or “sixty-eight whiskey”. In the Air Force, these are known as Air Combat Medics/Pararescue or simply “PJs”. The Navy has Hospital Corpsmen who perform similar duties, and the Marine Corps does not have a medical division. The U.S. Marines rely on Navy medical troops instead.

    Working in these capacities is challenging, but rewarding. But every military career comes to an end at some point and anyone working as a combat medic or in a related MOS should start thinking about their career beyond military duty. What civilian jobs are open to combat medics who leave the military?

    Career Choices

    Before a former combat medic can really settle into making good decisions about post-military jobs, one big choice has to be made. Continue a career started in the military? Change direction within the same general field of medicine? Or start a completely new career unrelated to your old job?

    This article will focus on job choices for those who leave the military but want to remain in the medical field. If you decide you want to start a new career unrelated to medicine, it’s a very good idea to take advantage of VA transition assistance resources designed for people starting a new career or interested in learning how to.

    The opportunities we discuss below aren’t necessarily available in all locations, but the general idea is to take these options and find local versions of them in your chosen job market.

    Combat medics may or may not qualify for some of these jobs without additional certifications, training, or other measures so expect that your experience will vary.

    Anyone who has trained in a medical profession knows there are many diverse opportunities including teaching and training others in medical skills. Your opportunities are not limited to the types of work you did in uniform. You could be a manager, trainer, a liaison, or a hands-on worker, etc. You could even work as a medical recruiter, which is something we’ll explore below.

    Job Sources

    There are too many job boards to list but not all of them are right for those who want to work in medicine. Why do we say that? Because many would-be or type websites merely “scrape” the web for job listings and reproduce them wholesale on their own pages. Why is this a problem for a highly skilled job seeker?

    Because many of your job opportunities may be found on government hire sites like or on private healthcare official sites that feature specific instructions to submit job applications and resumes not necessarily included in the listing by the third-party job site.

    In other words, if you use to apply for a job right for a former combat medic, you may be wasting your time if the job application process requires you to submit in a specific way such as via the online job portal at

    Such sites may refuse to accept applications not submitted through their portal; submitting via a third party job search site gets you nowhere.

    Civilian Jobs For Combat Medics

    Some of these jobs may seem very entry-level to a highly experienced combat medic. But we include them here as some of them may be stepping-stone jobs toward a more advanced position within the Civil Service, the Department of Veterans Affairs, or even a private civilian healthcare facility.

    Some will need to take a more entry-level opportunity to work their way up, others may be immediately qualified for higher and more advanced positions.

    Private Healthcare Job Options

    The need for medics, nurses, nurse assistants, and many other medical positions is great within the private healthcare industry. Literature published by the World Health Organization includes the acknowledgement that private-sector care plays a critical role; the WHO notes that “most countries” have some blend of public and private options.

    Whether you are looking at employment in a nursing home, hospice, extended care facility, clinic, or other operation, private industry is a big part of the hiring landscape.

    Some may feel intimidated by applying to work at a big hospital or private care facility. But there are plenty of medically-oriented businesses including physical therapy clinics, sports medicine clinics, and other opportunities that operate on a much smaller scale.

    Some may consider working in the medical department of a professional sports organization, charter school, or other such entity.

    Private Sector Health Industry Recruiting

    Some military medical troops are specifically recruited to join the military to serve. But did you know that there are civilian medical recruiters too? A combat medic leaving the military would do well to explore options with a civilian medical industry recruiter.

    This in and of itself is a fulltime job and some with combat medic experience may actually choose to recruit rather than practice. Many healthcare companies rely on such recruiting operations which locate skilled professionals for private practice, local hospital operations, and groups with unique medical job requirements.

    You can do a Google search for medical recruiting operations but be sure to do your homework on such companies if they are new to you–investigate the online reputation of that company and other information to make sure you are working with a reputable agency.

    Government Healthcare Jobs

    The federal government, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, routinely hires ex-military medical troops like combat medics for a variety of needs, programs, and services. The VA may hire you to work at one of their facilities, while you can find opportunities in a wide variety of other government agencies including the Department of Defense. Opportunities include:

    • Defense Health Agency Civilian Jobs
    • Army/Air Force/Navy medical jobs
    • Army Medicine Civilian Corps Jobs
    • Public Health Service Jobs

    Where can you find these opportunities? There is a centralized government medical job board on that offers a portal to these jobs and much more. What kind of jobs? At press time, the following were just some of the opportunities:

    Physician (Occupational Medicine)
    Defense Health Agency
    Department of Defense
    Fort Belvoir, Virginia

    Medical Support Assistant (Office Automation)
    Defense Health Agency
    Department of Defense
    Bethesda, Maryland

    Nurse (Consultant/Medical Home Port Team/Patient Centered Medical Home)
    Defense Health Agency
    Department of Defense
    Fort Belvoir, Virginia

    Supervisory Physician Assistant
    Defense Health Agency
    Department of Defense
    Fort Sam Houston, Texas

    You can also search for medical jobs on the Department of Veterans Affairs official job board.

    Civilian Jobs For Former Combat Medics And Other Military Medical Specialties

    No list of medical job opportunities would be complete without a listing of some of the career options open to those with the right experience. These jobs may all require new certifications, training, or other steps to be accepted as a new hire.

    Your experience will vary depending on state and federal law, local opportunities, and other variables. When applying for jobs like the ones listed here, be sure to read the entire job description and listing to make sure you know the requirements and credentialing needed to land an interview.

    Intermediate Care Technicians (ICT)

    The Department of Veterans Affairs offers jobs for ICTs at VA medical centers. This work involves “complex technician-level diagnostic and treatment procedures” as well as providing “intermediate and advanced paramedic-level care” crisis intervention, and related duties.

    Health Technician

    Another opportunity commonly offered at VA facilities, a health technician in this setting would be responsible for direct patient care, administering medication, as well as diagnostic support and medical assistance in VA medical centers and clinics.

    Medical Support Assistant (MSA)

    This commonly-offered VA job is one that requires “tact and diplomacy” according to the VA official site, which is why the agency recruits former military medical troops. They perform what the VA terms as “front-line contact” with patients–the VA hires vets in this capacity to use their “shared experience to comfort fellow Veterans” who may be trying to cope with navigating the VA medical system.

    Nursing Assistant

    Even if you did work above the assistant level while in the military, working for the VA as a nursing assistant has its perks. The VA official site reminds potential applicants that “certification is desirable” but is NOT required to apply. The VA official site adds that “Nursing staff may take advantage of the special education support programs we offer to earn the degrees and certifications necessary to become a Licensed Practical Nurse or a Registered Nurse”.

    Naturally you are not limited to applying for jobs at the VA for any of the above, but the VA is a very large federal employer and it would be a mistake to rule out the agency as a major source for medical job opportunities.

    This is NOT a comprehensive list of medical jobs open to former combat medics, there are many other opportunities for work as an Emergency Medical Technician or EMT, Surgical Tech, a Physician Assistant, or an Emergency Room Nurse just to name a few.

    About The AuthorJoe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News

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