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Private Military Contractors

Private military companies represent a large and very lucrative jobmarket for vets these days — or, at least, for vets with the right stuff.

Companies like Blackwater USA (now Xe), Sandline, Military Professional Resources, and numerous others have six-figure jobs for highly-skilled combat professionals, with a marked preference for former special ops personnel (although so-called “Tier 2” jobs are also available for former commissioned and non-commissioned officers with traditional military infantry or combat experience).

Take note that the jobs are not for your average green-shaded bookkeeper. Are you the kind of person who loves adventure and danger and who might get a genuine rush from roaming Southeast Asian jungles, taking fire in Baghdad, or hunting terrorists in the mountains of Afghanistan?  Before you say yes consider that hundreds of PMC’s were killed in the Iraq war — believe it, this is a job that puts you in harms way.

But the pay is excellent with some PMC’s (also known as “Security Contractors”) earning, as said, in the the low six figures (up to about $250K is possible, around $125K more likely).  So how does one get a job in this field?

First, you need to be ex-military (with only a very few exceptions).  Although not essential, it’s best to approach employers with a specialization, such as expertise in explosives, weapons, security, intelligence, or jungle combat.  Especially good specializations are extractive security and VIP close protection. Also, though it sounds a little overwhelming, learning an Asian or Middle Eastern language is a huge plus (but don’t worry, few PMC’s have this skill).

The number one qualification is special services experience (SEAL, Ranger, etc).  Employers are primarily looking for fighting machines and they are not interested in any candidate not in peak fitness.  This is where being a PMC differs so much from being, say, a private bodyguard.  As a PMC you will quite likely face action and life-threatening situations.  Most bodyguards, as you probably know, never find themselves in life-or-death situations like this.

Who are the employers?  You can find a list of virtually all of them posted at PrivateMilitary.org.  Another great resource is DangerZoneJobs.com.

Jobmarket Trends

Believe it or not the so-called sequester and DOD budget cuts are actually a favorable trend from the standpoint of PMC’s and security (now a $100 billion business).  The reason is that, as DOD reduces our military presence in the Middle East, the US State Department is ramping up its PMC hiring.  For example, in Iraq, PMC’s are performing a wide array of missions funded by State, such as training, security and reconstruction.

Another trend is anti-piracy operations, which have been assisted in many cases by PMC’s.  Piracy in the Horn of Africa has declined by almost 30% as more and more commercial fleets have hired private armed guards to safeguard their vessels.  But piracy is an issue worldwide nowadays, not just in the Horn of Africa region.

Then there’s the spread of radicalization, evidenced in the murder of US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other US citizens in Libya.  At present PMC’s are in high demand throughout the entire African continent to provide security, especially around oil fields in the north.

The important point is that, despite DOD cutbacks, opportunities for PMC’s are strong with other government agencies like the State Department, and commercial entities as well.

To learn more about this field, check out Contracted:  America’s Secret Warriors by Kerry Patton.

 

 

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