Why a security cleared IT role could be a great choice for former services personnel

Published on: 28 Mar 2022

Leaving the armed forces means finding a civilian career, which can be a tricky prospect. One of the hardest aspects of this is finding the right job for you, as it might seem like there aren’t that many transferable skills between an office job and the British Army, Royal Navy or Royal Air Force. However, you might find that the IT sector is the perfect career move.

This might seem unusual, but the IT sector is extremely varied and there are a range of challenges that ex-servicepeople are extremely able to tackle. In some cases, you could even be dealing with issues of national security if you go into cyber-warfare or counter-fraud. Furthermore, a lot of the skills you will have learned in the armed forces are extremely relevant for a career in IT.

While it might not be an obvious move, a career in IT could be the perfect option for anyone transitioning into civilian life. Here’s why a security cleared IT role could be the right choice for you.

Use your skills

Firstly, you might already have the skills needed to succeed in the world of IT. For some servicepeople, these skills will be technical in nature. If you worked in intelligence, signalling or many other areas of the military, there is a good chance you have a high level of digital understanding and IT skills already.

However, if you haven’t worked in a technical area you might be wondering if IT is even a possibility for you. The good news is that it is, and you almost certainly have some relevant abilities that will help your career. For example, being able to keep a cool head under pressure and a keen attention to detail are both essential qualities to have during a cyberattack.

‘Soft skills’ like these are in demand in a number of fields, and IT is no different. There’s also the matter of security clearances. If you have one, this will be highly desirable to any IT company working with sensitive information or in secretive fields. Even if you don’t, your military experience will make it easier for you to get one, which will also stand you in good stead.

Demand is high

If you have the relevant abilities, there is a great demand for talented people with the tech skills to succeed in IT. The industry is dealing with a major lack of talent overall, with 24 per cent of data protection firms, 36 per cent of AI/machine learning firms and 48% of cybersecurity firms are dealing with skills shortages.

This is not something that is going away any time soon, with the Learning & Work Institute saying the UK is heading towards a catastrophic digital skills shortage. While this is a challenge the sector as a whole will have to face in the coming years, for anyone coming into the industry it is a major advantage.

High demand means less competition and more opportunities, especially if you have some of the skills listed above or are willing to undergo further training. You could be exactly what a public or private sector organisation needs to help them modernise, develop the tech solutions of the future or battle against cybercrime.

Great career prospects

Another advantage of the high demand for skilled IT professionals is that it leads to some amazing career prospects. The average base pay in the sector is over £44,000 a year, with some roles paying an annual salary of more than £500,000. If you are willing and able to go into an area of IT in high demand, and you have the ability to learn the required technical skills, it can be very lucrative.

Progression is also much easier in an industry where professionals are in high demand. Not only does the skills shortage mean there are fewer people capable of progressing through the ranks, giving anyone joining the field a major opportunity, but it also means there’s more competition between organisations.

If you join the IT sector and find there is no room for progression at the firm that hires you, there will likely be another company or public sector organisation that will happily take you on at a higher position. The more experience you get in the field, the more attractive you are to different businesses, so it’s a great way to steadily progress in your career.

Getting into IT

How do you go about joining the IT industry? There is no single way, but if you are looking to do so then there are a few things to consider. Firstly, you will need to think about tailoring your CV. Many people use a generic CV that they send out to all businesses, but it is much more effective to create a different one for each role you apply for.

Depending on the organisation, IT firms might be looking for attention to detail, discipline, organisation or the ability to lead a team. They will also be interested in any technical skills you have picked up during your time in the military. These should be the focus of your CV and cover letter, so potential employers see straight away that you have excellent relevant experience.

The same goes for any security clearances you have or have the potential to get. Make sure these are obvious to anyone looking at your CV, as they will be a major benefit to you. If you want to find IT jobs that require a security clearance, your best bet is a specialist jobs board like SecurityClearedJobs.com.