Military spouses have obstacles to employment but they are not insurmountable. It is definitely harder to get hired as a military spouse, after all, if it’s a choice between a candidate who is tied to the area, vs. a candidate who might only be in the area for two to three years, the decision seems clear. Actually, though, it’s not. Technically employers may not ask if a person is a military spouse, and in my opinion, being vague is in order in these situations. “Yes, I am new to the area.” “We are here for the foreseeable future.” “We moved here because we like the area.” Or, if the employer clearly knows you are a military spouse, you can honestly state that you are hoping to stay as long as possible.
In an interview, make it clear that, in addition to your work experience, your role as a military spouse has trained you with valuable skills. We adapt well to change, and are used to project management, budgeting and logistical planning. We are highly committed to the task at hand and know how to compartmentalize; and we are so glad the employer took a chance on us, that we put all of our efforts into working hard for the company. Tell the employer that because of your drive, passion and experience, you’ll give more to the company in whatever time you do have there than other, longer term, employees would.
There are definitely some career paths that are more conducive to military life than others. I know a lot of nurses, speech therapists, teachers (I’m a teacher), and freelance artists of all sorts- writers (me), graphic designers, etc., and consultants who work from home. Plus, many people have home businesses. There are plenty of online university programs to get various certifications, and there is scholarship money, through MYCAA, (The Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts Program is a career development and employment assistance program sponsored by the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program) for instance. Some people find jobs they are happy with on military bases, where the people hiring know how the lifestyle works and are especially open to hiring spouses. For more sources on education and employment, visit Military One Source.
If you have a college degree of any kind, you can substitute teach at any level, and it’s a really great flexible job. I’ve done it in four different countries!
Since military spouses, because of the nature of the military, have no choice but to take second chair to their Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine, it’s best to focus on something that brings you joy and try to find a career/hobby/job that fits into it.
I taught when my husband and I were first married, but once we had kids, I stayed home. I wanted to be a Stay At Home Mom. Besides, his job is so unpredictable, and deployments long and frequent, I could never have counted on him to help in a pinch. At first, I got frustrated by his odd hours and having to take odd phone calls in the office in the middle of the night, etc., and I’d speak my mind, after all, I felt I knew how to run things better, until one day, he got tired of me trying to tell him how the military could run better. He said, “I have my job and you have yours.” At first I was really angry, but then I decided that he was right. At that point in our lives, it was my chosen job to take care of the kids, which is no easy feat in any situation, but especially in military life (we have moved 12 times, and been through years of deployments). I made it my mission to be the best mom possible and raise really great kids, and I think I’m pretty good at my job.
Find what makes you happy, and make it happen.