Switching Careers: From Army Transporter to Weatherizing Expert

Royce BrubacherNovember was a disappointing month for job seekers. The unemployment rate inched up to 9.8%, with only 39,000 jobs added in the private sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, surprising many experts and highlighting how slow the recovery has been for many Americans.

Still, jobs can be found in health care, information technology and education, according to job search website Indeed.com. Royce Brubacher, an Army transporter for five years, proves that persistence and a willingness to switch careers can pay off.The summer of 2009 was a tough time for Royce Brubacher. Thanks to the recession, his tree-trimming business in Arizona was faltering and the veteran felt it was time to move closer to his family in Colorado.

After four months of Internet-based research and tapping friends and family for leads, the 35-year-old landed a job in December 2009 with the non-profit Veterans Green Jobs, weatherizing homes of low-income residents in the San Luis Valley area.

"As a veteran, I was looking for a veteran-friendly company to work for," the divorced father of four told WalletPop in telephone and email interviews. "Through my friends and family, I heard of Veterans Green Jobs. Although I did not have a background in construction, Veterans Green Jobs gave me a great opportunity to learn on the job. Being able to help people and give back to the community is also what attracted me to Veterans Green jobs."

It may have been a crash course in learning how to insulate homes, but, in just one year, Brubacher, who grew up working his family farm, quickly rose from crew member, making nearly $17 an hour, to crew leader, making almost $21 per hour and overseeing a team of three.

"In addition to being a 'farm boy,' because of the nature of his previous employment as a tree man, Royce demonstrated that he had the physical capability to do light construction, could drive a big truck, was familiar with basic safety procedures and the proper use of power tools," said Tamar Ellentuck, senior director of the San Luis Valley Weatherization program for Veterans Green Jobs. "Because he also had to keep track of expenses, appointments, safety hazards and crews in his last job we knew that he had the ability to do that in another setting. His military experience almost guaranteed that we could train him quickly and that he would be able to work effectively as part of a team."

Switching careers has not only taught Brubacher new skills, he is able to spend more time with his family. He works four, 10-hour days and can spend time with his children. He also lives in Monte Vista, the same town as his mom and her husband.

"Don't get down on yourself," he advised. "Don't blame yourself because you are not working. The economy will pull through. If you have to change, find another career. Just because you're a truck driver doesn't mean you can't learn a new skill. Don't rely on one skill."
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