If you're preparing to transition from the military, the thought of no longer having your regular bimonthly military paycheck likely is a source of stress. In fact, according to a 2016 study from Blue Star Families and USAA, 59 percent of military spouses and 61 percent of active-duty servicemembers are anxious about their current financial situation. How much do you need to make to maintain your standard of living after the military? Will you be able to find a job that pays that amount?
To address these questions, you first need to remember that your budget will likely become more complicated once you leave the military. Unlike when you were in the service, your entire salary will probably be subject to taxes, and you may have to pay for healthcare and other benefits. That means your post-military salary may need to be higher, and you'll need to figure out how much higher. The GI Jobs Military to Civilian Pay Calculator is a simple tool you can use to target the salary you need to earn to maintain a comparable standard of living after you transition.
This tool allows you to enter your rank, years of service, special duty pay, and location. You can also select your tax filing status, healthcare expenses, and your target location(s). The tool will then calculate a civilian salary that is equivalent to your military salary based on the cost of living for the location(s) you selected. While the tool does not include all forms of military compensation that you may receive, such as your uniform allowance and certain types of special pay, it will give you a basic idea of your financial situation and how it may change after you transition.
Whether you'll be able to find a job that pays that amount will depend largely on the job market. In evaluating your post-military plans, there are a lot of factors to consider, such as where you want to live, what kind of an organization you want to work for (for example, government, private sector, nonprofit), and, of course, what kind of work you want to do. One of the best tools for evaluating salary is the U.S. Department of Labor's Wages by Occupation and Local Area tool. Using this tool, you can get an idea of the market rate for a given career field in a specific geographic area.
One of the great advantages of these tools is that they allow you to begin the process of planning for post-military life right now. These tools, along with our career services team, can guide you through this challenging process and onto an educational path that can help to make your plans a reality.
At UMUC, we've been serving military and veteran students since 1947, so we understand the stress and uncertainty that you feel as you transition into this new stage in your life. That's why we strive to provide the education and resources that can make this transition easier and help you to achieve your goals. To learn more about the opportunities and resources that are available at UMUC, visit the Veterans Resource Center.