I’m back after a LONG break dealing with our overseas move. There is so much to talk about in the finance arena related to this move, but the focus of my post today is on military spouse employment overseas. This is a huge issue for many military families that receive overseas orders. The first question is whether the spouse is allowed to work at all (you have to check the Status of Forces Agreement- if there is one). Assuming you are allowed to work, is employment available that matches your skills? In many locations, the answer is going to be no. Much of what is available on base is limited to employment through MWR or the NEX/commissary (if there is one). You can pursue a DOD civilian job, or a job out in town.
In my situation, I had worked remotely as an engineer for 9 years, and the company did not want to continue to employ me in Southeast Asia. I have a bachelor’s degree in engineering and graduate degrees in theology and nuclear engineering. I brushed up my USAJOBS resume, and applied for a couple of jobs (for which I was not selected). I setup an account on Flexjobs.com. There, I was able to become part of a contract editor pool for a company that edits technical journal articles. I also decided to get certified as a personal trainer through ACE, and I can get clients as an MWR contractor once I finish that.
Another factor in military spouse overseas employment is the need for flexibility. School schedules may not match up with US holidays, and often the military member is gone frequently. Thus the military spouse is the one who needs to always be available for the kids. Military families often take advantage of the opportunity to travel that comes with living overseas, so starting a new job with restricted amounts of time-off might not be ideal.
I am hoping to cultivate some transferable skills (the technical editing and personal training) during this tour. They are not location specific, and both are flexible. Side note: in order to take childcare tax deductions, both spouses need to be working or in full-time school. So, having at least some part-time income is important!
A quick Google search for top jobs for military spouses overseas was underwhelming, to say the least. Most list things like “transcriptionist, virtual assistant, English teacher, babysitter, pet sitter.” Many of my friends are employed in some way here. Their jobs include: substitute teacher, cake baking, selling clothes/belongings online, teaching exercise classes, personal trainer, online tutoring, photographer, health coach, sewing, and working remotely for US-based companies.
Are you a military spouse working overseas? I’d love to hear what you do and how you got into it!