Can I Join a Private Military Contractor Company Without Ever Being in the Military?

Can I Join a Private Military Contractor Company Without Ever Being in the Military?

Joining the military is a rigorous process that takes mental and physical stamina and dedication. The many requirements to join a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces include certain health and physical standards. If you’re unable to join the military, you can still provide service to the country as a private military contractor. While many positions require military experience, some private military contractor jobs require no experience in the military. That doesn’t mean there aren’t hoops to jump through to get those jobs.

What Private Military Contractors Do

Private contractors provide a range of support to the military, often at lower cost than having the military carry out the tasks. Private military contractors subsidize the military in positions such as force protection specialist, aircraft firefighter, armor vehicle technician, and armed security guard. They also carry out mundane tasks such as mail delivery, customer support, inventory management and human resources.

Private military contractors are thoroughly vetted and trained to ensure they are capable of working alongside the military and in support positions. All candidates undergo an extensive background check, drug screening and security clearance.

Jobs Requiring No Prior Military Experience

Prior military experience is necessary for many positions that directly provide mission support. For other positions, those with prior military experience are preferred since they have expertise specific to the job.

However, there are a number of private military contractor positions that do not require prior experience in the military. Most require that the applicant be a U.S. citizen and have experience specific to the job. Private military contractor jobs that require no military experience include:

  • Background investigator
  • Armor vehicle technician
  • Driver/kennel attendant
  • Firefighter
  • Records management
  • Proposal manager/writer
  • Security alarm monitor
  • Unarmed security officer
  • Water treatment plant operator

Each position comes with its own set of requirements that must be met to be considered for the position. For example, someone who wants to be a contract background investigator must have experience conducting one-on-one subject interviews, with at least one year of experience doing so at a government level. Someone who wants to be in records management may only need a high school diploma, knowledge of software, and a couple of years of experience in records management. An unarmed security officer needs to have graduated high school, have at least one year of experience in law enforcement or security, and be able to complete detailed reports.

Joining a Private Military Contractor Company

Whether or not you’ve been in the military, you follow the same method for joining a private military contractor company. Many contractors recruit prior military and nonmilitary professionals. In that case, a recruiter helps you determine the best position based on your interest and background.

If you are interested in seeking a position with a private military contractor on your own, the best place to start is online. Private military contractors such as Constellis and GardaWorld Federal Services list open positions along with their requirements. You can apply online for any position that appears suitable.

Getting a job with an overseas military contractor – security company, or a private military contractor, or PMC – isn’t difficult, if you have the necessary blend of training and experience. It also helps if you’re in top-flight physical condition and have a spotless police record. Duties and locations depend on the organization you choose to work for and the skills you bring to the job.

Although the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries forbids its signatories the use of mercenaries, or from raising mercenary troops, the United States is using private security to protect foreign interests, not to act as mercenaries. Department of Defense instructions allow PMCs working under the auspices of a U.S. government contract to defend themselves, their client and their client’s assets, but a military commander must ensure the PMC does not participate in operations of a military nature, such as raids or pre-emptive strikes against opposing forces.

Experience Required

Overseas security companies require personnel to have at least two years’ experience in physical security, Department of Defense anti-terrorism and force protection, and interview and investigation techniques. An appropriate background includes service with the U.S. Army military police, U.S. Air Force Security Service or a military intelligence service. A high school diploma or its equivalent is required, but an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in political science or a security-related field is preferred. U.S. citizenship and a security clearance, or the ability to obtain a security clearance, are required for many assignments.

Physical Requirements

Security personnel must be able to wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as helmets and Kevlar vests, during extended high-threat situations. They must be able to stand for extended periods and be unconcerned about poor living conditions in remote locations. Domestic or international travel, often on short notice, is required and a passport is necessary. If you meet the physical and experience requirements, PMCs generally require you to express interest in employment through email or by completing an online application.

Outlook and Pay

Details on the job outlook and pay for overseas military contractors are sketchy and anecdotal. As long as governments are willing to pay for private security contractors, though, the private citizen with military experience can profit. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates referred to individual security contractors’ pay as “six-figure salaries.”


Private Military Company Pay Vs. Army Pay

Although the United States isn’t a signatory to the U.N.’s “International Convention Against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries,” the employees of private military companies (PMC’s) aren’t mercenaries. PMCs supply support services and personnel whose jobs range from aircraft repair to medical and humanitarian aid. They also provide security guards who have parlayed their military training into a PMC army type of job paying three to five times their Army pay.

Private military companies are as hesitant about providing information about their payroll as they are about naming their clients. The individual contractors who worked for PMCs rarely speak of it because the CIA and other discrete organizations are their clients. CIA contractor pay and signed contracts require silence.

Private military companies offer top wages to attract qualified applicants willing to carry out dangerous missions. For example, Blackwater contractor salary is estimated to fall between $9,000 and $22,500 a month, according to the website. Silent Professionals pays maritime security officers in Africa between $700 and $800 per day.

Army Pay

Army base pay is part of a soldier’s compensation package for serving in the armed forces. U.S. Army pay depends on an individual’s rank. The higher the rank, the greater the responsibility and the corresponding pay.

A private, entering advanced individual training earns a base salary of $20,170 per year, as listed on the U.S. Army website. A newly promoted private first class working as a machine gunner earns $22,608. A sergeant with six years experience, possibly including combat, earns a base pay of $36,018 per year. A first lieutenant with four years experience annually earns $59,774. A captain, after five years of service, probably has combat leadership experience and earns $71,323 per year.

Similarities Between the Two

Because PMC personnel work outside the U.S., they can receive their pay through direct deposit to their bank in the same way Army personnel do. Some PMCs, such as those that provide aircraft maintenance, for example, don’t work in a combat-type situation. Instead, they may contract to foreign governments, where their personnel maintain the aircraft, both military and civil, belonging to the government.

Differences Between the Two

PMCs don’t have the same duty schedules as the U.S. Army. Instead, the PMC tours of duty are based on their clients’ requirements. For example, in Iraq, PMC contracts with the U.S. government may require that personnel leave the country after a period of several months. PMC personnel provide physical security for U.S. nonmilitary assets and personal security for U.S. government civilian personnel. Additionally, PMC personnel aren’t subject to military courts or orders and can resign their positions at any time, without repercussion.

Deciding Best Fit for You

The U.S. Army is the common starting point for career soldiers, both those who spend 20 years or more in the Army and those who become PMC field employees. If you prefer the more casual relationship and the higher pay that a PMC offers, you may be well suited to that work. On the other hand, if your paycheck is not an issue and you prefer the traditional military role the U.S. Army offers, stay in the Army.

What Is the Income for a CIA Agent?


The income and duties of CIA agents vary according to their job designations. The minimum qualifications include U.S. citizenship, a high school diploma and being at least 18 years old. Applicants must also pass a background investigation, polygraph test and medical exam.


As of 2012, special agents earned $74,872 to $155,500 a year while working under the agency’s inspector general, according to the CIA website. They conduct sensitive investigations into law violations, abuse of authority, mismanagement, waste and public danger within the CIA. They can work independently or as part of investigative teams. Minimum requirements include a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of experience in complex investigations. Agents must be able to organize and analyze data and draw conclusions essential to an investigation, sometimes under tight deadlines. They must also demonstrate negotiation skills that emphasize diplomacy and discretion.


Protective Agents

Protective agents made $50,408 to $95,206. As part of the Directorate of Support, they support protective operations that can last from 45 to 60 days or more and can travel extensively — domestically and internationally. Candidates must be at least 21 years old and physically fit; they must have a driver’s license and a high school diploma or equivalent. At least seven years’ experience is required in military, security or law enforcement positions, preferably in special operations or protective-operations branches. A bachelor’s degree is preferred. Pluses include previous deployment in a war zone, report writing, professional medical experience and management background.


Paramilitary Officers

In 2011, paramilitary officers received $58,511 to $81,204 a year. They serve the Clandestine Service at the Washington, D.C., headquarters and abroad. They handle intelligence operations and activities for government policymakers in potentially hazardous environments. As such, they use media, technical and military skills such as aviation and psychological warfare. Minimum requirements include a bachelor’s degree, experience in military special operations or combat arms, and combat leadership background. Foreign travel and foreign language knowledge are assets. The maximum age for applicants is 35, although that can be waived.


Clandestine Service Officers

Officers in the Clandestine Service were paid $52,976 to $81,204 in 2012. They must enter the service as a trainee. Those with a bachelor’s degree and experience in business or the military can enter the Clandestine Service Program, while those with the degree but no experience can join the Professional Trainee Program. A GPA of 3.0 or higher is preferred, as well as proficiency in languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Persian Russian or Turkish. Upon graduation, agents secretly assess, develop, recruit and manage foreign individuals who have access to necessary foreign intelligence on national security issues.

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