How to Work for the Department of Defense. The United States Department of Defense, centered in the Pentagon, administrates all federal national security initiatives as well as the Army, Navy and Air Force. While the Department's management personnel are almost entirely comprised of individuals with a background in military service, civilians with the proper credentials can also work for the Department of Defense.

Graduate Into a Department of Defense Career From Military Service

Join a branch of the military as a new recruit, complete your basic training and continue your career. The U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force all offer training in specialized disciplines--from military intelligence to advanced scientific research--that will be directly applicable to a future career in the Department of Defense.

Take advantage of the opportunity to complete your college degree while serving in the military. For servicepeople with a scholastic aptitude, it's not a bad idea to continue your education at the graduate level. Disparate fields of study ranging from nuclear physics and engineering to political science and geography will be useful going forward, depending on what specific Department of Defense division you hope to work in.

Stay in regular contact with human resources personnel in your branch of the military. Make sure they know about your desire to work for the Department of Defense, and ask them to refer you to any available positions for which you are qualified.

Apply directly to Department of Defense positions you're interested in. Make sure you gather as many references from senior military personnel as you can to give yourself a leg up.

Work for the Department of Defense as a Civilian

Complete a college education. Even if you're aiming to work in a support position, the Department of Defense tends to favor candidates with at least a bachelor's degree.

Contact the Department of Defense's human resources (HR) department directly to see what vacancies they're currently looking to fill. Apply to all positions you're qualified for. Remember that any military experience you have will put you at an advantage, and make sure to include this information on your resume.

Take advantage of special opportunities if you're a direct family member (spouse or child) of a military serviceperson. The Department of Defense has initiatives in place that offer employment to military families.

Things Needed

  • ['Military service (recommended)', "Bachelor's degree (recommended)"]


  • Connect directly to job information and opportunities with the Department of Defense at the Civilian Personnel Management Service website (see Resources below).


  • Civilians will be required to undergo a background check before they are hired to work for the Department of Defense. A history of criminal activity will disqualify you from working there.