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Research Synopsis

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Research Questions

  1. For each of the Army's ten most-populous military occupational specialties (MOSs), what are the most-needed knowledge, skills, and abilities?
  2. For each of the ten MOSs examined, what are the best-matched civilian occupations, in terms of work activities, work context, work style, and needed knowledge, skills, and abilities, including soft (nontechnical) skills?
  3. How can the Army use the information of military-civilian job matches to assist soldiers transitioning out of the Regular Army?

As the Army reduces its end strength, the number of soldiers leaving the Regular Army has increased, raising concerns about unemployment and other transition problems for these veterans. To help improve the Army's transition assistance process, the authors of this report administered civilian occupation surveys to soldiers in selected Army military occupational specialties (MOSs) to assess the level and importance of the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) needed in these MOSs and to develop better crosswalks between military and civilian occupations. The authors also identified and separately analyzed survey questions associated with soft skills, such as leadership, teamwork, and attention to detail, to assist soldiers with translating their Army experience for civilian employers.

The occupation surveys generated a rich database that was used to characterize the KSAs needed by Army soldiers to perform their MOSs, as well as other occupation attributes, such as work activities, work context, and work style. Furthermore, the crosswalks generated from the survey responses identified both a broader range of military-civilian occupation matches and higher-quality matches than existing crosswalks. Based on these results, we recommend that the Army communicate information about these job matches to both soldiers and potential employers and that it expand use of the occupation surveys to develop crosswalks for additional MOSs.

Key Findings

Improving Military-Civilian Occupation Crosswalks

  • The civilian occupation surveys generated a rich database of the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) needed by Army soldiers to perform ten of the largest Army military occupational specialties (MOSs).
  • Using these data, the authors were able to identify both a broader range of civilian occupations that utilize KSAs developed in the Army and higher-quality matches than existing military-civilian occupation crosswalks, such as My Next Move for Veterans.
  • The best-matching civilian occupations included some that made use of common soldier KSAs that were shared by multiple MOSs, as well as others that utilized MOS-specific KSAs.
  • Some occupations recommended by existing crosswalks do not match very well with the KSAs of the MOSs analyzed in this study. In part, these low-quality recommendations occurred because occupations from these crosswalks do not make use of soft skills developed in the Army, such as teamwork, leadership, and training, coaching, and mentoring others.


  • The Army should provide information on the best civilian job matches to transitioning soldiers in the ten MOSs analyzed in this report. This information should include the types of employers they should target, the KSAs they should emphasize in their discussions with employers, and potential skill gaps or credentials they may need.
  • The Army should also develop a communication plan for employers in these occupations, identifying which MOSs are good matches for them and the KSAs these soldiers have developed in the Army. In addition, the Army should provide information to employers about the number of soldiers in these MOSs leaving the Regular Army each year and their planned geographic locations.
  • The Army should expand use of the occupation surveys to develop crosswalks for additional MOSs.

Research conducted by

This research was sponsored by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs and the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1, U.S. Army, and conducted by the Personnel, Training, and Health Program within the RAND Arroyo Center.

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