The Best Free Tools for Bridging the Language Barrier

3-½ minutes to read

When you talk to civilians about your military experiences do you feel like a foreigner? You say something and you get that head nod. It’s the one indicating comprehension while the eyes tell you the person doesn’t know what you’re talking about. That’s what you face when job-hunting after military service. The vast majority of civilians have never heard of a military occupation code (MOC). They have no idea what you did.

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Some military jobs, like hospital corpsman and medic, have clear private sector equivalents. But most, like infantryman and boatswain’s mate, have nothing similar in the civilian world. And, just because you served in a medical capacity doesn’t mean you want to continue doing so.

Like civilians not knowing military terminology, most service members can’t convert a skill, such as breaking down and cleaning an M-16, into valuable private sector expertise. Yet your ability to get a high-paying job will in large part come from just that process.

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To help you, I looked at the most prominent military skills translators. Here’s my assessment of if and how they can help you.

Tools for Bridging the Language Barrier

Skills translators break down into four types from least to most useful:

  1. Job board
  2. Occupation matcher
  3. Occupation matcher with detailed information
  4. Skills translator

They’re all free and easy to use. But, as I discuss below, those in categories 1 and 2 have little practical value.

Category 1 - Job Board: Military Skills Translator asks for your service branch and MOS, AFSC, or rating. It returns a list of related jobs. MOS Code to Civilian Occupation Translator and Stars and Stripes MOS Code to Civilian Occupations Translator are identical. I don’t know if they’re using the same software vendor or one has licensed the other’s. Suffice to say they request the same input, MOC, and give you the same output, a list of available jobs. These two have an interim step confirming your military job whereas goes straight to the jobs.

All are better than a regular job board where you would have to input a job description. But other than that, like all job boards, they’re a waste of time. Only a small percentage of people get a job using job boards. As well, they treat everyone in a MOC the same.

Category 2 – Occupation Matcher:

Department of Labor CareerOneStop Military to Civilian Occupation Translator asks for your MOC and returns a list of occupations. Because it gives such limited information don’t waste your time using it.

Category 3 – Occupation Matcher with Detailed Information:

O*Net Online Military Crosswalk Search asks for your service branch and MOC. It returns occupation matches. When you click on one of the occupations, you get:

  • Detailed Tasks – a list of the duties you would perform
  • Tools & Technology – that you’ll use
  • Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities - required for the job
  • Work activities
  • Work Context – the environment in which you’ll work
  • Job Zone - the preparation you need to qualify for the job including an SVP Code summarizing the level of preparation difficulty
  • Education – typical education level of people holding the job
  • Credentials – you need
  • Interests – the characteristics of a person the job will satisfy
  • Work Styles
  • Work Values
  • Related Occupations - note those with a “Bright Outlook”
  • Wage & Employment Trends
  • Sources of Additional Information

Such comprehensive data gives you a broad and deep picture of a particular job. Spend some time using this tool. The biggest negative comes from not treating you as an individual. You’ll have to research various jobs and decide which ones your unique skills and experiences best qualify you for.

Category 4 – Skills Translator: Military Skills Translator is the only actual skills translator. You input your service branch, MOC, code status, and code category. It gives you a group of skills in civilian language. You can use this group, and ones you add to it, in the Resume Builder function on the website.

O*Net gives you a lot of information. But think about what happens when you’re in a meeting to discuss a job (a.k.a. interview). When asked why you’re qualified, do you say, “Because I plugged my MOC into O*Net and out popped this job”? gives you crucial data you need to create your Unique Value Proposition (UVP), which is the heart and soul of your self-marketing effort.

One caution, I input the same MOC into the skills translator three times and got three different groups of skills. You should do the same thing. Have it generate several sets of data. Then analyze each skill to determine whether it applies to you.

Next Step

O*Net and give you powerful free tools for constructing your UVP. Combine them with what you’re passionate to do. Now you have a path to the kind of job you’ll love. Get started now.

Where are you stuck figuring out your Unique Value Proposition?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below

© , Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some links in the above post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guide Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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