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Understanding the Civilian Economy for Opportunity

In today's blog, we will talk about the civilian economy and how it works. This will be a snapshot of how things are broken down in terms of organization of opportunity.


American Veteran Professional Services LLC was created by veterans to assist veterans in understanding the different sectors of the civilian economy. The United States has only a few sectors of businesses and workforce opportunity, that is it, nothing more, nothing less. Your goal is to choose which sector best fits you and your family’s lifestyle. Sound too good to be true?

Consider this: your military training is based on something called a Quality Management System, also known as a QMS. Did you know that a QMS is used every day by our government and the world’s largest organizations such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Apple, and Amazon? Furthermore, the United States Military helped create and implemented the first program to assist contractors develop streamlined processes to meet the stringent requirements of government regulations— MIL-Q-9858.


This blog was developed to help you understand how the civilian economy works and what sectors are available to assist in creating your opportunity. Whether you are active duty, reserve, IRR, retiring, a veteran, transitioning, considering departing the military, or a military member of any type, this information will provide a reference when seeking a career in any sector of the civilian workforce. This blog can be used in various way and is specific to decision making when considering employment with any company or government agency in general. The reason all of this is important; because with this information, you know what you are walking into before you make a decision.

Government Employment (Public Sector)

According to the Department of Labor, a public sector employee means that you work for a state, District of Columbia, a territory or possession of the United States, a city, a municipality, a township, a county, a parish, or a similar government ( Let’s break this down: large federal, small federal, state, and local government agencies (city and county). For anything federal, most of the time, the pay is determined by experience and education. Furthermore, you will encounter something called GS, a General Schedule (blue collar) pay scale from 1 to 15 and then something called SES, Senior Level Service (Google GS Pay Scale to get an idea of where you place). There are over 400 federal agencies and if you want to know everything about the agency, we implore you to find the agencies mission, vision, and values. This can be a tool that will help you look into the agencies culture before applying to the career (it’s a fast way to see if it’s a good fit for you and your family).

For state and local government (city and county) it is not as straight forward as federal employment. Each local government has different types of laws, regulations, pay scales, and so forth so each career may be different and require different types of education and experience. No matter the public sector career, there will be benefits (medical, dental, vision, vacation, retirement, etc.) that are typically better than the private sector because public sector careers are funded by our tax dollars and because of laws and regulations. However…

Did you know that all government agencies use a Quality Management System to help them control their agencies? Why is this important to know? Because government agencies already have established policy and procedures most of the time for the career you are looking at. For some of us this works because there is established structure and it is like the military. The systems and processes in the public sector are not as in depth as the military but will create familiarity for you.

Yes, you can advance in your career in the public sector, but for some, not at the pace they wish to because of the established Quality Management System they must adhere to due to laws and regulations. Are you a hard charger? Do you like creating and contributing ideas? Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit? Then maybe the public sector is not for you.

Private Sector

We have arrived at a complex topic, the private sector in the civilian world. How does it work? What is involved in this sector? How do you make heads or tails of the private sector? What are the opportunities? The questions here can go on forever. When we look for careers in the private sector, it can be a daunting task because there are so many. According to the SBA, there are over 31.7 million small businesses that employ over 60.6 million people and account for 47.1% of jobs in the United States ( Then there are medium sized companies and large organizations.

When our government talks about the private sector, they refer to organizations in several ways. A small business, a medium business, and a large business. There are too many factors to write about and explain how these are categorized, but a quick way our government does this is by using something called a NAICS code (North American Industry Classification System). These NAICS codes determine a lot about a business; size, income limits, industry, services, and so forth. However, we can categorize businesses in the United States so you can know what type of business it is and the potential it may have for you and your family. Mom and pop shops consist of less than 10 people. These businesses typically do not offer benefits and pay ranges from $12 an hour to $15 per hour. Some mom and pop shops are successful and are kept small and profitable, but choose not to grow.

Brick and Mortar stores are places like Lowes, Cabela’s, Target, and so forth. Typical pay is $12 to $17 an hour and most of them offer benefits to some degree. Upward promotion is possible, but most high paying jobs are taken for many years to come.

Now lets get into government contracting. Remember the NAICS codes? Companies that are involved in government contracting are recognized as small businesses through these NAICS codes and many of these companies have something called “Set Asides.” These companies’ contract with government agencies and have the potential to grow, which means possible potential for you to become an intricate part of the organization’s development. There are small businesses with a certification called a VSOB and SDVOSB “Set Aside” for veterans and disabled veterans. These companies are owned and operated by military personnel, and they receive contracts based on their designations. Most of these companies do offer benefits as well.

Then there are larger companies like Lockheed Martin, BAE, Northrup Grumman, Boeing and so forth but we will save how these work for another time.

If you have any questions or want to learn more about our training classes, please contact using the information at the bottom of this page.


Courtney Schreiber, USN Veteran

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