If you’re currently a U.S. Navy Corpsman and are thinking about your next steps after the military, it’s natural to wonder what careers align best with your current skills and experience. The good news is that your extensive military training and medical experience have likely prepared you well for the civilian workforce, and there are several jobs you can pursue that closely resemble your military medical experience as a Corpsman.

While your military job does overlap with several civilian positions, there are several challenges you may encounter. Even with your military experience, your future career prospects depend largely on your willingness to pursue additional educational opportunities. In the process, you may find you're already familiar with some of the information from your extensive training and experience.

Prospects for civilian employment in healthcare are positive, and if you stick it out, you will be rewarded with a fulfilling and successful career. This article covers a brief overview of the Navy Corpsman job and dives deeper into the four potential career paths you can choose that closely match your position in the U.S. Navy.

The Navy Corpsman

The U.S. Navy Corpsman, also known as a Hospital Corpsman, is a highly diversified and versatile position that can lead to service members working in varying specializations. Each corpsman is trained to provide basic life care support and medical care to Navy service members and their families.

The role of a U.S. Navy Corpsman encompasses a wide range of responsibilities that spans from surgery and patient care to dental hygiene and behavioral health—depending on whether they have completed advanced training. Navy Corpsmen can find themselves working around the world in Navy medical treatment facilities such as hospitals or clinics. They may also find themselves working aboard aircraft carriers or submarines if the need arises.

If you served in the U.S. Navy as a corpsman, your future career path in civilian life may vary depending on your medical training and specialization. Here is a list of several civilian positions that will likely overlap with many of the responsibilities you had while on active duty.

Civilian Jobs for Navy Corpsmen

1. Registered Nurse

A registered nurse (RN) is not only a rewarding career, but it is also a stepping stone to many other positions in the healthcare department. As such, it is a great choice for former Navy Corpsmen who are looking to break into civilian healthcare. RNs are typically responsible for providing patient care to individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other settings. Nurses are involved with several facets of patient care including patient-and-staff communication, observation of patients, medical record keeping, evaluating the current health of their patients, and working to administer patient care to improve their overall well-being.

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Although nurses are not likely to find themselves 10,000 leagues under the sea in a submarine, RNs do provide different levels of care to a variety of patients in a wide range of settings. This is why many Corpsmen find that becoming a Trauma Nurse or Emergency Department Nurse aligns well with their military experience and skills.

The position is also financially rewarding with average compensation around $75,330 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The job outlook for RNs is particularly positive as well with employment opportunities for registered nurses projected to increase at a rate of nearly 9% through 2030.

In order to become an RN, the first step is to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university. If you have received Navy technical or operations training in the medical field while on active duty, this training may be applicable toward credit hours via the American Council on Education. The next step is to pass the NCLEX exam which tests your knowledge and training in the medical field.

2. Nurse Practitioner

In many ways a nurse practitioner (NP) is largely an advancement from the RN position. While the two are similar, NPs typically work in a primary care setting and hold a much greater degree of decision-making responsibility. Depending on the state and number of years they have practiced, an NP can provide patient care without being overseen by a physician. For example, according to a new Massachusetts law, certified NPs who have completed at least two years under physician supervision can practice independently. NPs can also provide referrals and create individualized treatment plans for their patients.

NPs also receive a higher salary than RNs, earning, on average, approximately $117,670 yearly. And although job prospects for an RN are on the rise, the job outlook for NPs is well above the average at 45% growth over the next ten years.

NPs typically start their careers out as RNs before pursuing an advanced degree such as a master's in nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). From there, aspiring NPs can begin seeking out a career in their desired specialty.

3. Clinical Nurse Leader

Clinical nurse leaders (CNLs) are involved with almost everything related to patient care and coordination. Essentially, they are trained generalists who deliver comprehensive services rather than focusing solely on one type of service. CNLs are also tasked with the coordination of patient care by collaborating with the patient caregivers that interact with their patients directly.

CNLs typically receive an annual salary of more than $92,000. This translates to a wage of roughly $44 per hour, but this figure may vary depending on experience, location, skill set, and other factors.

Similarly to NPs, CNLs start out as RNs. The two additional steps to secure a CNL job are to obtain an advanced degree in clinical nurse leadership and earn a CNL certification from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

4. Paramedic/EMT

If you are looking for a job that closely overlaps with the position of Navy Corpsman, a career as a paramedic or EMT may be perfect for you. According to Navy Credentialing Opportunities On-Line, there is an estimated 80% or greater overlap between the positions of EMT and paramedic and those of a basic Hospital Corpsman.

Paramedics and EMTs work as first-responders to emergency medical situations. They typically work in ambulances or air transportation settings. These pivotal positions often involve life-or-death situations and require a mindset like yours that is comfortable with emergency decision-making.

Since paramedics and EMTs require less training than many other healthcare professions, educational costs and salaries tend to be lower, averaging $36,650 per year. With the number of positions expected to grow by 11% over the next decade, job security and opportunities are exceptional.

The educational requirements for these positions are not nearly as stringent as the previously listed jobs. Both paramedics and EMTs only need to have obtained a high school diploma or GED. The next step is to complete a state-approved EMT course and acquire CPR and Basic Life Support (BLS) certifications. EMTs must then pass the National Registry Emergency Medical Technicians exam.

Paramedics generally start their careers as EMTs before completing additional training. This training involves completing an accredited program from a CAAHEP-approved location and applying for the National Paramedic Certification. Once this is complete, paramedics can apply for licensure in their desired state of employment.

How To Transition From Corpsman to Nurse

When your active duty has ended, the process of pursuing a civilian job may seem daunting. The culture differences are hard to overcome and the civilian world is highly competitive. However, the good news is that obtaining a nursing position is definitely within your reach. This guide walks you through the process of pursuing a nursing career in the civilian workforce.

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