Adjusting to life after your service in the military can be a challenge, as you are now making the transition from military serviceman to a civilian veteran.

But, that transition can be made a lot more smoothly than you might think.

There are a number of jobs that are actually very similar, in certain ways, to your career in the military. Choosing a job that isn’t too drastically different can ease the transition because you aren’t having to deal with an enormous amount of changes.

Instead, you will be in an environment that you are already fairly used to and performing tasks that aren’t too foreign.

This is especially true when it comes to air force jobs.

After leaving the air force, you have multiple options that are rooted in the field of air, from becoming a pilot to working customer service for an airline.

But, what is the top civilian job to look at after leaving the air force?

In my opinion, the job best fit for an air force veteran is by far an aviation or aerospace program manager.

Aviation or Aerospace Program Manager

aviation manager

Becoming a program manager for aviation and/or aerospace is by far one of the easiest jobs to adjust to, but also one of the most profitable.

This is a low stress level job, due to the fact that there is no certification needed, and the extreme flexibility of the job.

But certification might be the route for you to take if you have no previous experience with program management, project leading, or directing of any sorts. There are several online courses you can take that will get you the 35 hours of education you need, and well developed online institutes to help make the certification process go a bit smoother.

Becoming certified also helps when wanting to make more of an attractive appearance to your potential employers. Of course, the person with the most education, experience, and character is most likely to get the job.

As an aviation or aerospace program manager, you will be given a project or contract to manage. Then, you are simply in charge of coming up with timelines and deadlines, supervising other staff members, and monitoring the budgets.

And if you have no previous experience, or the sound of being supervisor over such tasks makes you a bit nervous, then worry no more. You won’t be all on your own -- as an aviation or aerospace program manager, you will have senior staff to report to.

Furthermore, according to, your military training transfers very well to the field of aviation and aerospace. However, this also means that the demand for you is everywhere due to employers seeking to hire people who already have security clearance.

How to Get Certified After Air Force Job


As I said earlier, receiving certification isn’t necessary and it isn’t a requirement to become a program manager for aviation or aerospace.

However, you may feel like it would serve you well if you did receive certification. This is especially the case if you have no prior experience with any kind of program or project management, or if you are simply wanting to make a better appearance to employers.

Getting certified is made easy through the Project Management Institute, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping and educating people entering the field of aviation and aerospace management.

You can achieve certification through the site’s online course.

The Project Management Institute also offers certification in 7 other areas

However, the certification best suited for a job in aerospace program management is “Project Management Professional.”

The Certification Process

To obtain certification and register for the courses with the Project Management Institute, you must meet certain criteria as well as go through the process of becoming properly educated and then finishing with an exam.

Step 1: Meet the eligibility requirements and criteria

Each of the certification types listed above has different criteria and requirements. To make sure that you fit in line with these, you can refer to the specific handbook for each one.

For the Project Management Professional certification, the prerequisites consist of:

  • Obtaining a secondary degree (a high school diploma, associate’s degree, or a global equivalent)
  • 7,500 hours of experience in leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of education in project management

Or, there if you have a 4 year degree, the prerequisites are a bit different:

  • Obtaining a 4 year degree
  • Only 4,500 hours of leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of education in project management

Step 2: Submit an application 

Completing the application is quite simple and once the information is collected, then you can simply use the Project Management Institute’s certification system to help you through the rest of the process.

To submit your application, you must provide the institute with the following information:

  • Contact information (this includes an email address, billing address, and phone number)
  • Your education (the school you attended, level of education you possess, degree date)
  • Domain education (names of the courses you completed, institutions you attended, dates, and the qualifying 35 hours)
  • Domain experience (descriptions of the projects you’ve lead or directed before, the qualifying hours, employment dates, your role, reference, and experience summary)

Step 3: Reviewing your application

Once you start filling out an application, it will remain active for 90 days. Once you finish it, the Project Management Institute will review it to ensure that you have met all of the certification criteria.

The Institute says that the review process typically takes anywhere from 5 to 10 days, and once your application has been completely looked over, they will email you the next step.

Additionally, if there seems to be a problem with your application or the Institute has questions, they will reach out to you with them as well.

Also, please note that each certification type is different, so these are not solid dates and times.

Step 4: Provide your payment

The Institute has an online certification system set up that makes paying easy for you to do. To move on to the final stage, which is the exam, you must make a payment for it.

After your payment has been approved, the Institute will email you with an eligibility number, which is valid for 1 year.

You will use this number to schedule your exam, which you can take up to 3 times in a 1-year time period.

Step 5: Take the exam

Upon passing the exam, you will receive your certification.

*Tips for Studying for the Exam

In order to pass the exam, of course, you have to study.

  • review the certification handbook. This will explain the format that the exam is written in, which will help you better mentally prepare for test day. The exam content outline will benefit you in the same way.
  • think about enrolling in an online or local exam prep course. Study groups, programs, or courses will help you be prepared more for what exactly is on the test and you may even get to try your hand at some practice ones.
  • read, read, read. To help you learn more and better, it is wise to consider reading books and articles about aerospace, aviation, project management, and the like. It is especially good to read content specialized in your domain topic areas.

Salary of an Aviation & Aerospace Program Manager

Another valid reason to consider becoming an aviation or aerospace program manager is because of the great salary. Of course, you should never choose a career path just for the money. But, it is definitely a bonus.

Out of all the air force jobs veterans can choose from, this is by far one of the highest paying ones.

According to, the average aviation or aerospace program manager makes a median salary of $107,118 per year, with 50% of employees obtaining this salary.

The lowest salary, of which only 10% receive, is still a whopping $66,000 annually.

And finally, 75% of aerospace and aviation program managers make an average of $130,000 per year, and the 90th percentile making $150,000.

So, regardless of whether you are one of the least educated or the most experienced, having your primary income coming from a career in aerospace program management is one heavy income.

Furthermore, according to, the field and demand for aviation and aerospace program managers are expected to grow up to 7% over the next 10 years.

Aerospace Program Management is the Best Fit for Veterans of the Air Force

veteran airforce

Leaving the military life of the air force can be difficult, but luckily, there are plenty of air force jobs that can make you feel right at home. Aviation and aerospace program management is one of the best.

From a high paying salary to a similar air force environment, flexible position, and no college specialty required, the field of aviation and aerospace is one fit for an air force veteran without a doubt.

As a program manager, you will get to handle all things aviation overview. From assigning deadlines to supervising budgets, this job is full of small tasks to help paint a big picture.

Your role as an aerospace and aviation program manager will definitely be a role well recognized and needed.

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