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Translation vs. Transposition: How to apply military experience in civilian markets


Admittedly, the lines connecting military experience and professions in the civilian sector are not always clear cut. In fact, the translation of military experience into civilian terms is not always easy—some ideas, experiences, skills, and qualifications may not always seem translatable, computable, or easily applicable. Thinking about the difficult task of translation with which servicemen and servicewomen are often tasked brings to mind something poet and translator John Ciardi wrote in his introduction to his translation of Dante’s Inferno, writing, “I believe  that the process of rendering from language to language is better conceived as a ‘transposition’ than a ‘translation,’ for ‘translation’ implies a series of word-for-word equivalents that do not exist across language boundaries any more than piano sounds exist in the violin.” Although Ciardi’s words ring true as it regards the business of translation, many employers (including the federal government) have come to realize our men and women in blue are not only highly trained, but possess an array of unique skills and abilities carefully honed through military service. Using Ciardi’s metaphor, even if piano sounds may not exist in the violin, a violin can certainly carry a melody played on a piano. So too, even if the specific duties one performed while in the military may not directly correlate to professions in the civilian sector, employers have come to realize that military experience and knowledge can be easily transposed, and put to use in the civilian workplace.

Pinpointing where overlaps occur, however, can be difficult—let’s face it, those positions available in the civilian sector are not only diverse, but fall on a broad spectrum. Finding where you fall on that professional spectrum, and where your experience may apply, can be overwhelming. In this vein, CNNMoney produced a list, titled “Best jobs if you’re leaving the military,” which might serve as a compass, helping servicemen and servicewomen to plot the trajectory of their post-service career.

  1. Intelligence Analyst
  2. Management Consultant
  3. Logistics Analyst
  4. Program Manager, Aviation/Aerospace
  5. Pilot
  6. FBI Agent
  7. Systems Analyst
  8. Training and Development Specialist
  9. Security Manager
  10. Senior Policy Analyst
  11. Information Security Analyst
  12. Facility Security Officer
  13. IT Security Consultant
  14. Security Engineer, Information Systems
  15. Senior Systems Engineer
  16. Logistics Specialist
  17. Business Development Director
  18. Probation Officer
  19. Contract Specialist
  20. Business Development Representative