Use Your GI Bill to Snag These Top Entry-Level Jobs

A sergeant first class holds a bouquet of roses after the Fort Knox Army Education Center College Graduation Ceremony.
While scholarships and discounts are available to the entire student body, military-connected students can access specific ones. Military students can reduce out-of-pocket expenses between educational benefits and specific programs through individual colleges. (Photo by Sgt. Nahjier Williams/U.S. Army)

Exiting the military, veterans may already have their college degree or they have access to the GI Bill. Either way, there is no excuse for a veteran not to have a college degree when entering the job market.

Your first experience with the job market often might be with entry-level jobs, unless the job you are pursuing is directly related to what you did in the military. With that in mind, we looked at a recent study by on the top entry-level jobs for college graduates. If you are at the point where you have not gone to college yet, or are in a program but have not declared your major, consider the list for potential areas of study.

The study is based on 11 key metrics, including median starting salary, projected job growth by 2024, and more.

The Top 10 Entry-level Jobs

1. Engineer: While “engineer” is a fairly broad category, they generally design, build or maintain machines or structures. For example, civil engineers had a 2015 median pay of $82,220, with a growth outlook of 8%.

2. Systems Engineer: They design, develop, test and supervise the development and test software, circuits, personal computers and more. They saw a 2015 median pay of $111,730 and have a projected growth of 3%.

3. Safety Representative: They analyze work environments and work procedures according to safety, health and environment regulations. Safety representatives had a 2015 median salary of $70,210, with a growth outlook of 4%.

4. Web Applications Developer: They are responsible for the look of the website or app, along with performance and capacity. They had a 2015 median salary of $64,970, with a growth outlook of 27%.

5. Environmental, Health and Safety Engineer: They develop procedures and design systems to prevent sickness and injuries. Their 2015 median pay was $84,600, with a growth outlook of 5%.

6. Electrical Engineer: They design, develop, test and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, and design and develop electronic equipment. Electrical engineers saw a 2015 median pay of $95,230.

7. Safety Technician: They collect data on the health and safety conditions of the workplace and conduct tests. In 2015, their median pay was $48,070 per year, with a growth outlook of 9%.

8. Software Engineer: They develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or another device. Their 2015 median pay was $100,690 per year, with a growth outlook of 17%.

9. Training specialist: They plan, conduct and administer programs that train employees and improve their skills and knowledge. Their 2015 median pay was $58,210 per year, with a growth outlook of 7%.

10. Architect: They plan and design houses, factories, office buildings and other structures. Their 2015 median pay was $76,100 per year, with a growth outlook of 7%.

It's interesting to note that most of these jobs on the list above were pretty low on growth rank. Only web applications developer and architect made the top 20 (at Nos. 13 and 15, respectively), even though the Bureau of Labor Statistics listed software engineers higher than architects, and training specialists as the same. Safety representative came in at No. 1 with the immediate opportunity rank, and web applications developer ranked lowest in this category with a 20 (out of 109).

Income Growth Potential

If you’re focused on getting a nice salary coming out of the military, the top five jobs on this list for starting salaries were:

  • Tax attorney
  • Drilling engineer
  • Attorney
  • Patent attorney
  • Employment law attorney

The lowest was teaching assistant (college).

Another important factor for these jobs is income growth; the top five were:

  • Employee relations specialist
  • Consumer loan officer and geologist (tied)
  • Geophysicist
  • Market research analyst

In contrast, the lowest job for income growth was teller.

The occupations that had the most job openings were all tied at the top:

  • Engineer
  • Safety representative
  • Training specialist
  • Software engineer
  • Systems engineer

What Does This Mean?

If you already have a job lined up, this may not mean anything to you. It should be noted that certain job fields were not included in the study, so if you happen to have one doing military advising for a top movie studio in Hollywood, that is great. But for those of you who want to let the market guide you on your journey, this is a good starting point.

Remember, the GI Bill is a strong resource that should not be ignored, and you need a college degree for most of the jobs above. You should consider other options, such as the Vocational Rehabilitation Program (now known as Veterans Readiness), which helps veterans with a VA disability rating and employment handicap by providing counseling, training, education and job placement assistance.

The Post-9-11 GI Bill offers great perks and living expenses, leaving you with little excuse not to pursue an education, if you so desire. For attending private universities with higher tuition rates, consider looking for assistance from the Yellow Ribbon Program.

If you would like to find out more about the GI Bill and going to school, visit the’s GI Bill page.

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