Let’s face it. Life can be unpredictable when you are a member of a military family.
With frequent and sometimes unexpected moves, it can prove challenging to build a career as a military spouse.
While the job search can be daunting, especially if you have as many questions as answers for interviewers and a resume filled with short term endeavors, you can take control of your career amidst the uncertainty.
In this guide, learn how to support your family and pursue your professional passions as a military spouse. With our tips, you can build a business or land a job with the flexibility you need.
Benefits of Military Spouses Working
Many military spouses find staying at home and caring for their children full time to be rewarding, especially if their spouse is deployed.
However, there are a number of benefits to working as a military spouse.
- Additional Income: The most obvious benefit of working while your spouse is in the military is the added income it yields. Adding a second paycheck to your household can improve your daily life and allow you to meet financial goals.
- Savings: The money you bring in while your spouse is in the military could help you to fund anything from a vacation to a home purchase to your children’s college education.
- Debt Repayment: A second income can help you to pay down debt, whether it be credit card debt, student loans, or other bills, more quickly.
- Investing: The income you earn can be invested in your future, whether you choose a hands-on investment like real estate, increase TSP contributions, open an IRA, or set aside funds to be managed by a robo-advisor.
- Building the future: You’re a military spouse today, but you may not be forever. If you start building your career now, you’ll be doing your future civilian self a favor.
- Fulfillment: Aside from the monetary gains, working successfully at a job you enjoy can provide you with a meaningful experience and the opportunity to use your skills and abilities to help others.
- Relationships: The life of a military spouse can get lonely when you’re constantly on the move. Working can provide you with meaningful friendships with coworkers.
These are just a few reasons you might want to work as a military spouse.
Difficulties Military Spouses Face Finding Gainful Employment
You can absolutely find work, and even build a successful career, as a military spouse, but you may find yourself encountering some of the challenges below.
- Frequent moves: In the military, it may feel as if you’re always starting over again. Unfortunately, you aren’t the only one who feels that way.
- Bias: Unfortunately, some companies are biased against military spouses, overlooking them for long-term employment because they frequently move. While you may run into this issue, there are companies who are happy to hire military spouses.
- Licensing issues: When you move across state lines, you may find that your professional license doesn’t transfer with you. Getting a professional license in your new state can take time and money – delaying your ability to begin your job search.
- Lack of industry: Your specialized degree and impressive resume may do you little good when you move to a remote military community without jobs in your field.
While these challenges may slow you down, they should by no means stop you from pursuing a career while your spouse is in the military.
Without further ado, here are a few of the best types of jobs you should consider when your spouse is in the military.
Best Types of Employment for Military Spouses
The best job when you’re on the move is a remote one.
Thanks to technology, you can have a flexible career from anywhere in the world in a number of industries.
Here are a few to keep in mind:
- Accounting: With the ever-expanding reach of technology, many companies are going digital with their finances, hiring remote (if qualified) accountants to manage their finances.
- Customer service: Remote customer service reps answer phones, respond to email inquiries, sell products, and work through issues with customers. For many of these jobs, all you need is a computer, the knowledge to use it, and reliable wifi.
- Writing: Wordsmiths are in high demand. Whether it’s writing textbooks, novels, grant applications, blog posts, or web copy, you can build a lucrative career as a remote writer.
- Editing: Likewise, many writers, companies, and organizations hire remote editors to whip their content into shape. If you have an eye for detail and loathe grammatical errors, editing could be a valuable career path for you.
- Tutoring: If you have a bachelors degree and the ability to teach, you could make money tutoring wherever you are. There’s no shortage of reputable online tutoring platforms offering services in everything from elementary ESL training to upper-level math classes.
- Travel advising: If you’ve traveled a lot with your spouse’s career, why not put that experience to good use as a travel agent? You can build your business completely online, helping clients to book hotels, flights, dining, and attractions for their upcoming vacations.
- Web design: There are thousands upon thousands of people looking for assistance with their websites. Whether you’re a graphic designer or developer, you can find projects on freelance sites that pay well and build your clientele.
- Social media: Similarly, you can manage social media accounts remotely, crafting content, managing ad campaigns, networking, and sharing images and videos.
These are only a few of the remote employment opportunities to consider if you’re a military spouse. Evaluate your skill set, interest, and qualifications, and start looking online for positions that offer remote work. You may be surprised at just how many you find.
While most of the jobs above will likely involve you being employed by a company or individual on a salaried, hourly, or contracting basis, the job ideas below put you in the driver’s seat.
Here are a few employment opportunities you might find beneficial if you want to work for yourself.
- Real estate: The real estate industry is highly lucrative and you can take it with you on the move. Whether you choose to manage properties or become a licensed real estate agent (which only requires a high school diploma in terms of formal education), you can build a solid home-based business in real estate.
- Farming: While rural areas may be a hindrance in some industries, they can provide you with the perfect soil to plant a profitable business in farming. Buying some acreage can pay off if you’re able to farm the land and sell products.
- Painting: While you may not make bank as a construction worker or home painter, it can provide you with a substantial secondary income for your family.
- Art: If you’re a talented artist, you can build a career around your passion. Sculptors, painters, illustrators, and graphic designers can take advantage of online retailers to sell their work, as well as local galleries and vendors.
- Construction: No matter where you’re stationed, there is always a need for construction workers. This type of labor is intense, but you can break into this profitable industry without any formal education requirements.
- Any of the above: If you’re a skilled writer, editor, designer, tutor or other professional mentioned in the list above, you can start your own business. Getting started is as simple as building a basic website featuring your services, rates, contact info, and testimonials.
Teaching, Tutoring, & Childcare
With a constant demand for teachers in urban and rural areas alike, you are likely to be able to find a teaching position wherever you land.
You should be aware, however, that pursuing a teaching career as a military spouse can be quite challenging. You’ll have to stay on top of licensing and certification requirements, as they often change from state to state.
While obtaining national certification can be arduous, it’s well worth your time if you anticipate a move.
To succeed as a teacher and military spouse, stay on top of your game, looking at all the positions in the area you’ll be moving to as soon as you’re made aware of the location.
After that, have your resume ready, start contacting schools, and be upfront. Taking a proactive approach is your best bet at landing a job in teaching or any other field.
While you may be hesitant to share your spouse’s military status in other careers, it isn’t likely to have the same negative effect on your teaching prospects.
If there aren’t any positions open at the time and you want to get your foot in the door, subbing & tutoring can help you get your name out there and create rapport with teachers and administration. Likewise, take every chance you can to network with teachers and organizations everywhere.
Childcare is another career field that is often in demand. You will need to verify whether or not credentials are required in your new location.
After reading the list of remote and self-employed jobs above, you may be wondering how your skills could serve as the basis for a business.
One route many military spouses take is consulting. Consultants are individuals who use their experience and skills to provide advisory services to an individual, company, or organization.
You can provide consulting services in just about any area in which you’re an expert.
People seek consultants of business, accounting, marketing, writing, programming, public relations, and a whole host of other areas of need.
Work may come slowly at first, but over time, you can build a thriving consulting business if you take the following into consideration:
- Hone your craft: Before you set out to market your consulting skills and throughout your career, make sure you’re up to date on the technological advances and best practices in your industry. In some cases, you might want to seek professional training or certification. Make yourself a true expert whom businesses can’t live without.
- Build your soft skills: Communication skills, time management, problem-solving, and work ethic matter significantly in the consulting world. Don’t just focus on the hard skills needed in your field.
- Set attainable goals: Be realistic about the time and resources it will take to build your consulting business and set measurable ways to achieve your goals.
- Establish your credibility: Results speak for themselves. Document the results you’ve gotten for clients and feature their testimonials on your site and promotional materials to demonstrate your excellent consulting skills. Connect with clients on Linkedin. All of these actions work to build your credibility and trust, banking you more clients.
Civilian Jobs in the Military
The military often hires civilians for in-demand jobs in fields like budget and finance, cyberspace, the medical field, engineering, finance, and HR.
In fact, usajobs.gov offers a path to federal employment specifically for military spouses which streamlines the application process to help military spouses get hired more easily.
If your spouse is active duty, completely disabled as a result of their military service, or your spouse was killed in the line of duty and you have not remarried, you could qualify for the government’s spousal employment program.
These types of jobs can make the transition from military life to civilian life a simple one, all the while helping you to build a stable career.
Steps to Take To Become More Employable
Whatever professional path you choose while your spouse is in the military, keep the pointers below in mind to secure a great job and build a lasting, meaningful career.
- Brush up on skills: As mentioned above, your best chance at finding professional success in spite of the obstacles facing you as a military spouse is to be the best in the business. Seek educational and professional development opportunities wherever you can, work to hone your skills, and become an expert in your industry. You may even be able to find tuition assistance for military spouses to help finance your education.
- Become location independent: As you learn and grow, do whatever you can to make yourself employable wherever you go, whether that means pursuing remote professions or seeking transferrable certifications.
- Seek out jobs with top military spouse employers: Some companies like USAA and T-Mobile look more favorably on hiring military spouses than others. Consider applying with these and the other companies on our list of the best employers for military spouses.
While you may have a few more professional hurdles than the average individual who stays put in one place, they shouldn’t stop you from pursuing a career.
There are plenty of companies, both remote and on-site, looking to hire military spouses.
If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, the world is your oyster, with an abundance of self-employment options at your disposal.
With your passion, expertise, and goals in mind, paired with the willingness to go the extra mile, you can have a rewarding career no matter where you’re stationed.