Civilian terms for military experience

Change your military title and responsibilities into civilian-friendly terms

Check your particular service’s personnel manual to see if it contains a list of military jobs and tasks, cross-coded to civilian occupational titles.

This list can help you get started thinking about how you can describe your military job in terms that hiring managers will understand.

Civilian terms for military experience

Military experience / term Civilian equivalent
NCOIC, Watch Captain, Petty Officer of the Watch Supervisor, manager, coordinator
Temporary Duty Assignment (TDY) or Temporary Active Duty Business-related travel, career relocation
Permanent Change of Station (PCS) Career relocation
Non-commissioned Officer Academy Leadership or management training
War College Executive military leadership school
Command and Staff College Senior military leadership school
Basic Officers Course Entry-level officer leadership course
Basic Training Introductory military training
O7 and above (Brigadier General, Major General, Lieutenant General, General, Rear Admiral, Vice Admiral, Admiral) Highest positions within a company, such as the President, Senior Director, Chairman of the Board, Managing Director
O5 and O6 (Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel, Commander, Captain) Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Program Director
O4 (Major, Lieutenant Commander) Senior Administrator, Department Head, Program Manager, Senior Advisor
O1 to O3 (Second Lieutenant, First Lieutenant, Lieutenant, Captain, Ensign, Lieutenant Junior Grade) Executive, Administrator, Manager, Supervisor, Superintendent, Project Officer
WO1 to WO5 (Warrant Officers) Director, Specialist, Facilitator, Technical Manager, Technical Specialist
E7 to E9 (Sergeant First Class, Navy Chief Petty Officer, Master Sergeant, First Sergeant, Senior Chief, Sergeant Major, Fleet Master Chief) Director, Supervisor, Department Manager, Operations Manager, Senior Advisor
E4 to E6 (Corporal, Specialist, Petty Officer Third Class, Sergeant, Petty Officer Second Class, Staff Sergeant, Petty Officer First Class) Assistant Manager, Line Supervisor, Section Leader, Task Leader, Supervisor, Foreman
E1 to E3 (Private, Seaman recruit, Seaman apprentice, Production Worker, Assembler, Technician, Assistant, Apprentice, Team Member


You can also do a search online by inputting your military rank followed by “translated to civilian terms.” You’ll get a number of responses.

Click the next button for a list of action verbs to use on your new resume.