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Blog>Guides>5 Government Jobs for Veterans

5 Government Jobs for Veterans

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5 Government Facilities for Veteran Jobs

  • U.S. Department of Defense
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Social Security Administration
  • U.S. Department of Justice
  • Department of Veterans Affairs


Veterans and service members who are no longer on active duty often have skills and abilities obtained during service that can set them up to succeed in many government jobs. There are laws and other hiring structures in place through the United States Department of Labor and the Department of Veterans Affairs to assist military veterans with finding federal jobs.

Opportunities also await via the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which serves as the federal government's policy manager and human resources agency. This article will highlight a few points for vets to consider during their job search and provide details on common fields of federal employment that veterans might be interested in.

Understanding Veterans’ Preference

Veterans can face unusual challenges when transitioning into civil service. One way in which federal hiring is made more accessible to veterans is through an initiative known as “veterans’ preference.” Being that many government jobs are categorized as "competitive service" — wherein applicants are rated for quality — it is helpful for veterans to be given a late-stage advantage when applying for these jobs.

U.S. Army soldier with an American flag patch on their arm.

Although the preliminary application process for a veteran is the same as other job candidates, if a veteran and a non-veteran are up for the same position and have the same rating, veterans' preference means the job would go to the veteran. Veterans’ preference functions much like a tie-breaker when all other factors are equal. It gives veterans a leg-up to accommodate for any hardships they carry in association with their time on active duty.

It’s important to note that veterans’ preference is not automatic. Veterans must claim their preference by providing a copy of their DD Form 214, known as the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, or any additional release documents issued at the time of their separation from service. The DD-214 is issued to veterans who have completed service at any time since the 1950s.

Veterans’ preference points are broken into three categories:

  • Disabled. Ten-point preference eligibility for service-related disability or receipt of a Purple Heart
  • Non-Disabled. Five-point preference eligibility for:
    • Serving in any war, campaign, or expedition for which a campaign medal or badge has been authorized
    • Serving more than 180 consecutive days (excluding training) in which any part took place from Jan. 31, 1955 – Oct. 15, 1976, or Sept. 11, 2001 – Aug. 31, 2010
    • Any service completed between April 28, 1952 – July 1, 1955, or between Aug. 2, 1990 – Jan. 2, 1992
  • Sole Survivorship. Zero-point preference eligibility but placed ahead of any non-veterans or preference eligible with the same score on an examination or who are otherwise rated equally in quality

To claim the Disabled Veteran 10-point preference, it’s necessary to supply hiring officials with the additional SF-15 form.

Know If You Have Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment (VRA) Eligibility

Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment (VRA) grants non-competitive placement for eligible former armed forces members. To be deemed eligible for a VRA appointment, a veteran needs to meet one or more of the following qualifications:

  • Honorably separated from active duty service within the last three years
  • Recognized as a disabled veteran
  • Received an Armed Forces Service Medal for service contributions during a military operation
  • Received a campaign badge for service contributions during any campaign or expedition

Veterans can apply any number of times under VRA eligibility and be appointed to a position at any pay grade level, including a GS -11 or equivalent. After two years of continuous service in a VRA appointment, veterans are transitioned to Competitive Service.

The 30 Percent or More Disabled Veterans Program

The 30 Percent or More Disabled Veterans Program allows military service members to be non-competitively appointed to federal positions when they have a service-related disability that meets or exceeds 30%. The Department of Veterans Affairs must rate a veteran’s service-connected disability at 30%, or the veteran must have retired from active duty due to a 30% or more disability rating.

One benefit of utilizing the 30 Percent or More Disabled Veterans Program is that there are no restrictions on available pay grade levels and no mandatory requirement that veterans eventually be converted to permanent positions if hired temporarily. As with other special federal hiring conditions relative to veterans, taking advantage of the 30 Percent or More Program requires submission of the DD form or SF-15 form.

The Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998 (VEOA)

The Veterans Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA) of 1998 is an executive order that protects preference rights for eligible veterans. While the VEOA doesn’t give veterans’ preference eligibility as an application factor, it does allow former service members to access positions that would otherwise not be available to outside applicants.

VEOA eligibility is extended to veterans or other preference eligibles who have honorably separated from active duty after three or more years of continuous service and to those who were honorably discharged just before completing three continuous years.

VEOA applicants selected for a position are given career or career-conditional placements. Further information on VEOA can be found on the FedsHireVets Special Hiring Authorities homepage.

Government Jobs For Veterans

Eligible veterans can become federal employees in a variety of ways. The best veterans employment program will meet the individual needs of veterans. However, capitalizing on any advantages offered through the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. National Guard, and GI Bill is an excellent place to start. Familiarizing yourself with the offerings available through the OPM is also advisable.

The following sections will cover some positions for veterans in various federal agencies.

U.S. Department of Defense

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is an executive sector of the federal government responsible for managing all matters pertaining to the U.S. Armed Forces and national security.

Smiling female security guard on the street.

Former service members can find gainful positions in this department, such as:

  • Contract Specialist
  • Security Officer
  • Educational Assessor
  • IT Specialist
  • Program Analyst

The DOD remains the largest federal employer of veterans in the United States.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is charged with providing public security within U.S. borders and in all territories associated with the U.S.

Closeup of a border police officer.

This federal branch handles issues like cybersecurity, counterterrorism, and maritime security. Veterans can apply for jobs, such as:

  • Transportation Security Officer
  • Border Patrol Agent
  • Investigator (criminal or civil)
  • Investigative Analyst
  • IT Specialist
  • Interdiction Agent

The Department of Homeland Security also manages port security, border security, immigration laws, aviation security, and critical infrastructure protection. All of these categories may include more federal positions that are right for the skills of eligible veterans.

Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the federal branch responsible for assigning Social Security numbers and managing Social Security payments to retirees, disability insurance recipients, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) afforded to the aged, blind, or disabled.

Portrait of an IT specialist using a laptop in a data center.

Top positions for veterans in this sector include:

  • Administrative Clerk
  • IT Specialist
  • Exam Analyst
  • Facilities and Physical Security Officers
  • Accountant

The SSA encourages former service members and military spouses to apply for employment.

U.S. Department of Justice

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is tasked with overseeing the dispensation of fair and impartial enforcement of federal law.

Successful attorney wearing a suit.

The DOJ handles punishments for U.S. citizens found guilty of federal crimes and actively administers federal law wherever required. Jobs that veterans might consider with the DOJ include:

  • Attorney
  • Criminal Investigator
  • Correctional Officer

Department of Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides vital services — such as health care — to America’s veterans.

Female paramedic in face protective medical mask standing in front of ambulance car.

The VA also manages benefits programs for military spouses and survivors and handles issues like burial placement in national cemeteries. Jobs available to veterans through the VA include:

  • Psychologist
  • Registered Nurse
  • Social Worker
  • Physician
  • Health Technician
  • School Certifying Official

As most veterans will have some interaction with the VA, this can be a familiar place to begin searching for federal work.

Find Federal Jobs For Veterans On Joblist

Despite having an understanding of the special hiring authorities at their disposal or connection with a particular appointing authority, veterans may still need additional assistance transitioning to civilian work.

Veterans and other job seekers should turn to Joblist to discover curated job openings based on their skills, experience, and location preferences. Take our simple and easy job quiz today and be on your way to building up your federal resume.

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