Figuring out jobs for military spouses can be a difficult nut to crack. Service members move frequently, and they often drag their spouses along with them.
That makes it extremely difficult for military spouses to find gainful employment. A lot of employers don’t want to hire spouses of service members, knowing they could leave abruptly.
I know of these difficulties firsthand, as my wife has currently taken a job back home in preparation for my separation from active duty in 2021. That was our decision, but it came after three months of submitting applications for the high-caliber positions in California (and having no luck) she was used to working in school districts.
Benefits of Employment for Military Spouses
Eradicate Debt: If you can live on the service member’s salary, every penny the military spouse makes at his or her job can go towards paying off debt. The faster you get rid of bad debt, the better your finances (and life) will be!
Networking: Military spouses are often lonely. Stuck in the monotony of “stay-at-home spouse” is no way to live out your days. Another benefit of jobs for military spouses is the ability to build relationships with coworkers and get out of the house!
Investing: It should be obvious that you should invest as much of the secondary income as possible, but unfortunately, a lot of military families do not. The number of spouses I know who work a job just to fund their expensive hobbies is astounding. Now, I’m all for having a few hobbies, but make sure you’re investing some of that income first!
Employment Disadvantages for Military Spouses
Moving around: At one point or another, you will have to move around in the military. That creates difficulty with employment because you’re never going to really work your way up the ladder at a job. In most jobs, you will start as the low man on the totem pole and by the time you’re getting promoted…it’s time to move!
Temporary employment: Ultimately, a lot of employers dislike hiring military spouses because of the short-term nature at the job. I understand this because hiring and training new employees is an expensive pain in the ass. That being said, while it is unfortunate, it can be worked around.
Licensing: Depending on your profession, it may be complicated to transfer your license to another state. I, for example, am a licensed real estate agent in the state of Hawaii. When I moved to California I realized it wouldn’t be worth my time to get my license here, so I didn’t. However, if I was a spouse and that was my full-time occupation, I’m sure it would be worthwhile. It definitely isn’t convenient though!
Overspecialize: If you are a highly educated, very specialized employee, you may be screwed. That skillset may be useless when you move to a small installation where there is no need for your occupational field.
Jobs for Military Spouses
Now that we have gotten the “woe is me” crap out of the way, here are some jobs worth looking into. These are occupations that I believe are in high demand and/or can be worked remotely that can help you maintain steady employment move after move after move!
Being a teacher may not pay incredibly well, but it is consistent work. My wife has a Master’s in academic counseling and has been a high school counselor for 11+ years. When we moved to Hawaii, she was able to get a job in the base education center.
We moved to San Diego, and she would have been able to work at any grade school or in the education center on base if she wanted. She also would have been able to teach some classes or even just fill in as a substitute teacher.
For this reason, I like teaching as a job for military spouses. No matter where you get stationed, there will be schools. And they typically have a fair amount of turnover, which means more employment opportunities. They also have a great work schedule. The idea of getting off work at a reasonable time of day and not working summers is great!
The ability to sell is transferable to almost any job. Sales is a great skill to master and can be very lucrative. I love the idea of finding commission jobs for military spouses because they are highly paid and versatile.
If you have sales experience in one industry, you should be able to get a sales job in another industry. Being able to sell cars is different from selling houses, products, services, coaching, timeshares, etc., but it is all similar at the core. Worst case scenario, you can always work in a local call center!
If you can prove your ability to sell in one industry, I guarantee the other industries will hire you. Every industry is looking for top sales professionals!
I recommend you learn to sell anyway. Sales is an extremely valuable skill to have in life!
The medical field is great for military spouses. I am focusing on nursing because I haven’t met too many neurosurgeon spouses in the military. I have, however, met a TON of nurses! Nursing allows you to work 3-4 days a week (usually 12-hour shifts) and still spend a lot of time at home.
Another benefit to the nursing profession is that your job description will remain similar at any hospital/clinic. This makes it easier to maintain proficiency and stay up to date in your career field. There are medical professionals in EVERY job market. Nursing also requires just enough certification to keep the number of potential employees limited but not enough to make it overspecialized.
Pharmacy and Pharmacy Technicians
The pharmaceutical industry has a lot of opportunities! You can work at Walgreens, CVS, in a hospital, clinic, on base, etc. Much like nursing, the pharmaceutical world creates great jobs for military spouses!
It is specialized but not TOO specialized, and the job remains similar no matter where you work. There is no shortage of need for “drug dealers” in the modern world, and I don’t foresee that changing anytime soon. This is another great career that can be transferred to new duty stations.
In the world we live in, it is becoming increasingly easy to work remotely. Don’t believe me? Go read The 4-Hour Work Week (you should read this regardless).
I will also go ahead and rope side hustle into this list. You could drive for Uber, Lyft, Instacart, or any number of gigs to earn extra cash.
Here is an extensive list of side hustles I recommend looking into.
Having a graphic design background opens the door to a lot of great jobs for military spouses. Not only can you work with many different companies, but you can freelance on websites like Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer, etc., in order to make extra income on the side.
Having graphic design skills could prove invaluable in a lot of different ways!
The infographic on the right is my most popular post on Instagram, and was created by a Freelancer from Fiverr!
Building a Business
Finally, you could start a business and create your own job as a military spouse!
I saved this one for last because it is the most complicated and potentially the least rewarding. There are a LOT of ways you could fail at building a business, and it will take a lot of time to get started.
That being said, you get to be your own boss, and it could be extremely rewarding! I know several mil-spouses who operate successful blogs, YouTube channels, Etsy stores, E-commerce storefronts, or other online businesses. The real beauty of these endeavors is your ability to take them with you.
It is easy to maintain your job if it revolves around an online platform. That is one of the reasons I love the idea of building a business. If you can build an online consulting business or another successful business model, you’ll be able to take your job and clients with you to any duty station.
That could eliminate the stress of job hunting every time your family gets relocated.
I hope this article has helped you decide on a profitable and transferable career…happy hunting!