Characteristics of Veterans in Allied Health Care Jobs


Objective: The goal of this study was to explore how veterans in healthcare occupations compare to their civilian counterparts.
Data/Setting: We used the 2011-2013 American Community Survey (ACS), which is a household survey conducted annually by the U.S. Census Bureau. We restricted our analysis to the non-institutionalized population age 18 to 75 years old living in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. We used pre-defined stratified sample probability weights to make the sample nationally representative and identified individuals working in healthcare occupations as classified by four-digit Census occupation codes.
Design/Methods: Sociodemographic characteristics of the study population were compared by veteran status and gender, and unpaired two sample t-tests were conducted to determine significant differences across mean characteristics by gender and by veteran status. Pearson’s chi-squared test was used to determine significant differences in proportions across veteran status within gender. Statistical significance was determined at p<0.001.
Results: Healthcare from 2011 to 2013 was a female-dominated field among non-veterans, (79.7% female) but among veterans, the gender distribution was nearly reversed (32.0% female). Generally, veterans had a lower percentage of females in every occupation compared to non-veterans. Among veterans, female veterans working in a healthcare occupation were significantly likely to be younger, not married, working part-time, below the poverty level, and receiving lower average individual earnings than male veterans. Allied health professions such as diagnostic related technologist/technician (e.g., cardiovascular technologist/technician, sonographer, magnetic resonance imaging technologist) were among those most commonly held occupations by veterans across both genders, but with higher frequency among males. Female veterans and non-veterans were more likely to be in lower-skilled occupations like nursing/psychiatric/home health aide, medical assistant, and personal/home care aide compared to their male counterparts. About 40% of veterans under age of 25, either gender, were in low-skilled aide and assistant positions; this was significantly higher than among young non-veterans.
Conclusions: Given that healthcare occupations are in high demand for the foreseeable future and veterans are currently underrepresented in the field, young veterans struggling to find employment should be encouraged to consider opportunities in healthcare. Reflective of the larger veteran population, veterans working in healthcare were largely an older male population that is relatively well-educated and working in highly skilled occupations. Young veterans, on the other hand, were more likely to be in assistive entry-level occupations regardless of gender. The nation’s challenge is to ensure that veterans and nonveterans who enter healthcare occupations enter at the highest level their education and training supports, and that they have trajectories that encourage career advancement and upward mobility. More work is needed to understand the underlying factors (e.g., military training and experience, financial support for education from the GI bill) that led male veterans to more highly skilled and higher-paying occupations in healthcare.
This study resulted in a full report and a 2-page policy brief that can be found in the publications section of our website.
Lead Researcher: Bianca K. Frogner, PhD
Contact Info:



HRSA: HWRC Allied Health






Authors Title Type Date Documents/Media
Frogner BK, Skillman SM, Snyder CR Characteristics of Veterans in Allied Healthcare Occupations PUBLICATION 11-11-2016
Full Report
Policy Brief