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How to Go From Military Medic to Civilian Medical Assistant

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All U.S. military service branches use trained medics in medical support functions. Navy hospital corps members, for example, serve in Marine Corps units, at sea and in aviation squadrons. Army Special Forces medics are among the military's best-trained medical personnel. Many military medics also serve in clinical settings in a number of technician specialties, including pharmacy and radiology. For a medic leaving military service, transferring acquired skills to a hoped-for civilian medical assistant position can be of high importance.

U.S. Military Medics

Except for the Marine Corps, which gets its medical support from the Navy's medical department, all U.S. military service branches feature large medic communities. Army medics, like Navy hospital corps and Air Force basic medical technicians, possess a range of medical skills. At minimum, military medics are trained to basic emergency medical technician as well as certified nursing assistant levels. Many military medics, though, receive comprehensive training in medical technician specialties, including paramedic-level capabilities or other health-care technical occupations.

Military Medic to Civilian Medical Assistant

As a 2012 Bloomberg article notes, military medics frequently have trouble moving into civilian medical assistant positions. The military used to do a poor job of ensuring that military medics received civilian certifications for the skills and abilities they've acquired. First lay the groundwork by researching civilian certification requirements if you want to smoothly transfer from military medic to civilian medical assistant. You may need to obtain additional training and certification before you can work as a civilian medical assistant.

Obtaining Civilian Certifications

For military medics, the Army, Navy and Air Force offer methods of obtaining civilian certifications before leaving the service. The Army and the Navy, for example, use Credentialing Opportunities Online, or COOL, to help their medic personnel obtain needed civilian certifications. The Air Force's Credentialing and Education Research Tool, or CERT, is offered through the online Community College of the Air Force. CERT's goal is to help Air Force enlisted personnel obtain needed civilian certifications, such as for civilian medical assistants.

Work Experience and Resumes

Documenting work experience through a resume is vital. It's important to translate your military medic and other skills into language understood by civilian employers. For example, a military medic is typically a basic emergency medical technician trained in patient assessment and patient care techniques.'s career field translation tool can also help you put your Army "Health Care Specialist 68W" occupation, for instance, into easily recognizable civilian terms. The U.S. Department of Labor's sponsored O_Net military crosswalk tool allows military personnel to select their service branch, enter their career field title or code and see comparable civilian occupations. For example, O_Net states that the Army's enlisted Health Care Specialist 68W, or combat medic, occupation also compares directly to the emergency medical technician and paramedic field. O*Net's EMT and paramedic tasks, such as administering first aid, also make for easily understandable resume language.


Tony Guerra served more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy. He also spent seven years as an airline operations manager. Guerra is a former realtor, real-estate salesperson, associate broker and real-estate education instructor. He holds a master's degree in management and a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies.

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