Be All You Can Be? Does The Military Fast-Track Your Career?
For years, the US military has promoted the idea that the armed forces is an effective launching pad to leadership positions. We wanted to dig into this presumption and explore whether those with military backgrounds really get more senior positions once they enter the corporate world.
By tracking the careers of both veterans and non-veterans, we see how military service affects seniority when compared to civilians. Among civilians, seniority is highly dependent on the university that someone attended. Below is a ranking of universities by the seniority attained, compared to veterans from different branches of the United States Armed Forces:
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To take this a step further, we explore the effect of military experience on seniority, compared to the seniority that could have been attained by college alone. In the chart below, on the left, we see the seniority that would have been attained without military experience, in terms of equivalent universities. On the right, we see the seniority that is actually attained, in terms of equivalent universities:
- The highest levels of seniority are generally achieved by the highest ranked universities: MIT, Harvard, etc. Yet the military puts up a strong fight, in some cases outperforming Ivy League and other top-tier Universities.
- The best-performing branch of the Military is the Air Force, achieving similar career growth as graduates of Yale and the University of Pennsylvania. The Marines also perform well and achieve higher positions than veterans of the Navy and the Army.
- The quality of universities attended by veterans are quite similar across all major branches of the US Military. This suggests that the seniority advantage of the Air Force is more likely explained by the training received, rather than selecting stronger candidates. The advantage is about as large as the difference between attending a State School vs an Ivy League.
If you have any ideas of other metrics to track or would like to hear more, please feel free to reach out.