Building a military spouse career is an uphill battle. Frequent moves, family separations, poor job markets near military bases compound challenges to both completing an education and discovering a military spouse job that works for you, not against you.
Sometimes military spouses with even the most portable career are experiencing a very tight and competitive market when it comes to finding work that is rewarding and pays well.
I am not an expert when it comes to military spouse jobs. I am simply a military spouse with experience finding (and creating) income-generating work at both stateside and overseas duty stations. All of the careers I mention are options for spouses, not a finite list possibilities.
First, let’s talk about practicality.
My personal philosophy on developing a career as a military spouse is all about practicality. Because when your people say, “You can be anything you want,” they probably didn’t consider you would be moving every three years to places like the middle of nowhere.
Of course, you should dream big and do what you love! At the same time, however, you want to do something that provides you with an actual job that pays actual money. There is nothing more stressful than spending months or even a year looking for employment in your field only to come up empty handed at your current duty station.
Military spouse unemployment is a real issue in the community and pursuing a career that is conducive to military life is both smart and savvy.
Go ahead and ask yourself these 3 questions:
1. Will the career you choose be portable from duty station to duty station?
2. Will the job pay enough to make working worthwhile?
3. Will the future projected job market actually have jobs in your field of choice?
Based on my experience and the experience of spouses I know, these are my top 10 most practical jobs for military spouses. The goal is to enable you the greatest chance of actually getting a job and getting paid while living a military lifestyle.
Military spouse jobs that work for you, not against you.
A practical option is to become a pharmacy technician. The school is reasonably short and the job pay is moderate the more seasoned you become. This job can help you decide if you want to attend pharmacy school later.
Becoming a pharmacist is a great idea because they all make six figures and there is a Walgreen’s on every corner. If you can complete the schooling, this is a powerful career for military spouses. It is important to note that the schooling is extremely competitive and challenging. Transferring credits from duty station to duty station is another important factor to consider before starting a program.
A medical technologist is fancy name for a lab technician who analyzes and tests body fluids and tissues. This means you typically work in a lab running blood work and other lab tests and reporting the results into an electronic medical record. Sometimes you are also the person obtaining the sample of blood or other bodily fluid from patients in a clinic or hospital setting.
Places to work include local hospitals, clinics or a blood bank. This position requires a Bachelors Degree and some states require licensure.
I spent 8 years as a critical care registered nurse (RN) before starting my own at home business. If you have the opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing, do it! This is a great job for military spouses.
Getting your first job is challenging, but once you gain some experience, the likelihood of each subsequent job hire increases. No matter where you are stationed there is a healthcare need. You do need to transfer licensure in many situations; however, this is usually pretty feasible.
Something to keep in mind is the RN position requires an Associates or Bachelors Degree, but the entire profession is moving toward Bachelors prepared nurses only.
Dental hygienist school takes approximately 2 years to complete and there are dental needs at every duty station. The job market is slightly tighter, especially if private practice dentists are looking for more long term hires (despite the fact that it is illegal to ask this).
Child Care Provider
Many working military spouse struggle to find reliable and flexible child care options. Running an in-home daycare at any duty station is an option, and it is usually fairly easy to get base approval if needed. Another option is to work at a local daycare or a CDC on base.
Certified Nursing Assistant
This job is a perfect stepping stone for any position in healthcare. The schooling can take as little as 3-8 weeks. The pay for this job is on the lower end, but again, it is a stepping stone. Using this job to network with hospital staff is a great way to get hired once you finish your medical technologist or nursing degree.
A virtual assistance (VA) provides professional administrative, technical, or creative (social media) assistance to clients remotely from a home office. I currently do VA work managing blogs and websites outside of my own. I am completely self-taught and was hired on word of mouth alone.
Depending on your skill level and actual work experience, a VA will make $5-30 per hour. The benefits to this job are you can do it anywhere in the world and take it where ever you go and the pay is reasonable for the skills and education required.
Blogger / Writer / Online Entrepreneur
If you are looking to work from home and be your own boss, starting your own blog or website is an awesome option. In terms of starting a business, it is literally the lowest risk investment you could make. The startup cost is minimal compared to the earning potential.
A year and a half ago I started this military wife blog, and it is currently a part time income for our family. There are thousands of other moms and spouses–literally thousands–who earn part-time to full-time incomes through blogging alone. Freelance writing is another option.
If you are thinking about starting a blog, I highly recommend grabbing Building a Framework Package. It will save you so much time and money in the long run, while giving you all the skills you need right now to start making money in only a few short months.
There are some military spouse careers that are portable, but also challenging because you need to re-build a client base every single time you move. This takes a considerable amount of time and effort. As a massage therapist, building a client base might be somewhat easier, especially if you are willing to travel to client’s homes.
Direct Sales / Network Marketing
I know everyone is sick of all the home parties and direct sales tactics. But if you truly love and embrace a product, network marketing is a beautiful thing. I can personally attest to this with my Young Living experience!
First of all, our family loves the products! After sharing the products genuinely with friends, family and my blog readers, the business growth is amazing to watch. I can’t tell you how many people come to me each and every month wanting to do the business side of Young Living. The products sell themselves. In less than a year with Young Living, our family is earning a nice part-time income.
If you are looking for more career help, I highly recommend In Gear Career, which is a non-profit organization for professional development, community support, information sharing, and networking to address the unique challenges faced by career-minded Military Spouses.
Want more on military life?
- 57 Things Military Spouses Can Stop Apologizing For
- The Ridiculous Lies About Military Spouse Unemployment
- What Military Spouses Need to Consider Before Choosing a College
- 47 Things No One Tells You About Being a Military Wife